Being famous can insulate you from a lot of legal and PR trouble. That's why sometimes a famous person can cause the death of a normie like you or me, and you don't even hear about it. But it's true: Celebrities do sometimes kill people. Because accidents happen. And murders also happen...
In 2006, pop singer Brandy was involved in a tragic car crash that killed the driver of the other vehicle, 38-year-old Awatef Aboudihaj. Though Brandy wasn’t charged with any crime, she was involved with several lawsuits over the incident, all of which she settled out of court.
In 1987, actor Matthew Broderick was vacationing in Ireland with his “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” co-star and then-girlfriend Jennifer Grey. While driving, Broderick crossed into the wrong lane and crashed into another car. The crash killed both passengers in the other car, a 63-year-old woman and her 28-year-old daughter. Broderick was fined $175.
In February 2015, Olympic gold medalist and media personality Caitlyn Jenner caused a multiple-car accident while driving her SUV. The crash killed the woman driving the car Jenner hit, and injured others. Jenner wasn’t charged with any crime, but several lawsuits against her evolved from the tragic incident.
Murder was the case that they gave him. In 1993, Martha Stewart’s best friend, Snoop Dogg, was arrested in connection to the murder of a rival gang member. Snoop didn’t pull the trigger, but was behind the wheel of the vehicle involved in the alleged drive-by shooting. Both Snoop and the alleged shooter were acquitted.
She's the former first lady. She's also a killer. In 1963, the future Laura Bush, nee Welch, ran a stop sign and hit another car, killing its driver, who happened to be her friend and classmate. Bush was 17 at the time.
The Who’s drummer was legendary for his partying and self-destructive behavior, but in January 1970, things took a deadly turn. At a pub in England, a crowd started attacking Moon’s car, and a drunk Moon tried to drive away. He accidentally hit and killed his friend, driver and bodyguard, Neil Boland. Moon was cleared of charges, but the incident haunted him the rest of his life.
Tennis sensation Venus Williams was involved in a car accident in Florida on June 9, 2017, that resulted in the death of a man in the other vehicle. Authorities determined Williams wasn’t at fault, though. Liability was placed on an unidentified third driver who cut Williams off in the intersection.
Johnny Lewis was an actor best known for playing Half-Sack on the show "Sons of Anarchy." In 2012, Lewis murdered his 81-year-old landlady and her cat, then died after either jumping or falling off the roof of her villa.
Michael Jace played closeted gay police officer Julien Lowe on "The Shield" before finding himself on the opposite side of the law in real life. In 2016, Jace was convicted of murdering his wife, April. He is currently serving 40 years to life in prison.
Before the real Felicia Pearson played the character Felicia Pearson on "The Wire," she was a convicted killer in real life. At age 14, Pearson was convicted for shooting and killing a 15-year-old girl, Okia Toomer. Pearson served six and a half years in prison.
William S. Burroughs
Beat novelist William S. Burroughs is perhaps best known for his influential 1959 drug-fueled opus “Naked Lunch.” He’s also pretty well known for shooting and killing his wife, Joan Vollmer, in 1951.
In January 1986, Grammy Award winner Luther Vandross lost control of his car while driving in Los Angeles and swerved into oncoming traffic. His passenger was killed, and four others involved in the crash were injured. Vandross pleaded no contest to reckless driving and later settled a wrongful-death suit with the victim’s family.
To some of us, model/actress Rebecca Gayheart will always be known as the Noxzema girl, because of the years she spent as a popular spokesperson for the skin product during the ‘90s. While driving in 2001, Gayheart hit and killed a 9-year-old boy who was crossing the street.
One night in 1984, after drinking like monsters all day, Motley Crue singer Vince Neil and Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle Dingley got in Neil’s car to make a liquor-store run. While driving pissed drunk, Neil hit another car. Both people in the other car suffered brain damage and other injuries. Dingley was killed. Neil was sentenced to 30 days in prison, of which he served 15 days before being released for good behavior.
The genius auteur film director who made “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” “The African Queen,” and “The Man Who Would Be King,” to name a few of his classics, hit and killed a pedestrian while driving on Sunset Blvd. in 1933. Huston was not charged with any crime.
Charles S. Dutton
Character actor Charles S. Dutton is familiar for his appearances in movies like “Rudy” and “Alien 3,” and the title role in ‘90s sitcom “Roc.” In his teens and 20s, Dutton served seven years in prison for manslaughter. He caught the acting bug during his stint, and went on to earn a master’s degree in drama from Yale after his release.
Don King is best known for three things:
1. That crazy hair!
2. Being a completely amoral boxing promoter.
3. Stomping one of his employees to death over $600 in 1967.
In 1994, former football star O.J. Simpson was charged with the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. Details of the crime and subsequent trial are shrouded in mystery.
Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen had always had a tumultuous (and drug-fueled) relationship. On Oct. 12, 1978, Vicious stabbed Spungen in the abdomen at the Hotel Chelsea in New York. Four months later, Vicious himself overdosed on heroin.
Robert Blake’s acting career began as a child and spanned the course of several decades. He made a name for himself with “In Cold Blood” and “Baretta.” On May 4, 2001, Blake’s second wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, was found shot in the head in Blake’s car. The actor was eventually acquitted of her murder but was later found liable in a wrongful death suit.
On Jan. 4, 2003, former Dallas Cowboy Dwayne Goodrich was involved in a hit-and-run accident that killed two motorists who were trying to pull a man from a burning car on the side of a Dallas freeway. Goodrich was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and served eight years in prison.
Former NBA player Jayson Williams had hired a limousine to drive his NBA charity team from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to his mansion in New Jersey on Feb. 14, 2002. While playing with a shotgun, Williams accidentally shot and killed the limo driver. He was initially convicted on four counts of trying to cover up the shooting and later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. In 2010, he was sentenced to five years but was paroled only two years later.
Aaron Hernandez’s career with the New England Patriots came to an end on June 17, 2013, when he shot and killed Odin Lloyd, a man who had been dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. He was convicted of first-degree murder on April 15, 2017, and sentenced to life in prison. He committed suicide in his cell on April 19, 2017.
Phil Spector could have been remembered forever as an eccentric but genius record producer, one of the single most influential creative minds in the history of rock and pop music. But that reputation will always be tainted by Spector’s 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson, for which he is currently serving time in prison.
Michael Brea is an actor best known for his role on “Ugly Betty” and for decapitating his mother with a Masonic ceremonial sword in 2010. Brea told New York’s Daily News, “I didn’t kill her. I killed the demon inside her,” adding that, “I didn’t want to kill her right away. I wanted to give her time to get right with God.”
Before he became the Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Edmonton Oilers, Craig MacTavish served a year in prison for vehicular homicide. On Jan. 25, 1984, the hockey player killed a woman while driving under the influence of alcohol. The conviction didn’t seem to affect his career though, as MacTavish signed with the Oilers immediately after his release.
NASCAR driver and team owner Tony Stewart has enjoyed a long and award-winning career in the sport. But on Aug. 9, 2014, he struck fellow racer Kevin Ward Jr. while the latter was walking on the track after his car crashed into the wall. The impact threw Ward 25 feet, and he later died from his injuries. Stewart, however, was never indicted for the incident.
On June 27, 2010, “Cry Baby” and “Melrose Place” actress Amy Locane crashed into another car in New Jersey, killing its passenger. Locane was found to have a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit and was subsequently charged with aggravated manslaughter and assault by automobile. She was sentenced to three years in prison, and was released in 2015.
On July 11, 1936, 30-year-old movie producer and eventual eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes struck and killed a pedestrian while driving in Los Angeles. A doctor who attended Hughes said he’d been drinking, and a witness reported Hughes was speeding and driving erratically. The witness later changed his story, and Hughes was cleared. "I was driving slowly and a man stepped out of the darkness in front of me,” Hughes claimed. OK.
On June 25, 2007 authorities were called to the home of WWE star Chris Benoit, where they discovered his body, along with those of his wife and 7-year-old son. It was later determined that over the course of three days, Benoit bound his wife and drugged his son before killing both of them. He later hanged himself.
Academy Award-winning actor Gig Young had only been married for three weeks when, on Oct. 19, 1978, he shot and killed his new bride before killing himself. A motive was never discovered for the crime, although Young had previously been under psychiatric care.
Cleveland Cavaliers player J.R. Smith has seen his fair share of legal troubles, but none came as close to ending his career than a June 9, 2007, car accident resulted in the death of one of his passengers. Smith pleaded guilty in 2009 but served only 24 days of a 90-day sentence.
Audiences may know Fay DeWitt for her comedic television work (she’s been on the small screen since 1959) but she’s also an actual killer. In 1965, DeWitt was accused of stabbing her ex-husband, Ray Allen, with a letter opener. Charges were never filed after it was determined that Allen broke into DeWitt’s home and repeatedly banged her head against a wall.
Oscar Pistorius is a former Paralympic champion who shot and killed his girlfriend on Feb. 14, 2013. Pistorius claimed he believed his girlfriend to be an intruder who had locked themselves into his bathroom. He subsequently shot her four times through the door. He was found guilty of culpable homicide and is currently serving a 13-year sentence.
Lillo Brancato Jr.
Lillo Brancato Jr. seemed to have a pretty bright acting career, having performed in “A Bronx Tale” and “The Sopranos,” but a severe drug habit led to problems with the law. On Dec. 10, 2005, Brancato was arrested for his role in the shooting death of an off-duty police officer. He was found guilty of first-degree attempted burglary and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
John Landis, the award-winning writer and director of films like “National Lampoon’s Animal House” and “An American Werewolf in London” is an unlikely candidate for a manslaughter charge. But on July 23, 1982, a helicopter crash on the set of “Twilight Zone: The Movie” killed three actors, and Landis was put on trial for involuntary manslaughter. He was found innocent on all charges.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, Claudine Longet appeared in numerous TV series and released several music albums. On March 21, 1976, Longet shot and killed her boyfriend, Olympic skier Vladimir Sabich. Longet maintained the shooting was an accident. She was convicted of negligent homicide and served a total of 30 days over her choice of weekends.
Former child actor Skylar Deleon was best known for his appearance in “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” but was never quite able to make it in show business as an adult. In 2004, he and his wife answered an ad to buy a yacht from Arizona couple Thomas and Jackie Hawks. The Hawkses disappeared and their bodies were never found, but Deleon confessed to their murder. On April 10, 2009, he was sentenced to death.
Huddie William Ledbetter was a folk and blues pioneer who had been in and out of prison since 1915. In 1918, he killed one of his relatives during a fight over a woman and was sentenced to seven to 35 years in prison. He was pardoned in 1925, however, after he wrote a song to the governor requesting his freedom.
Lane Garrison has appeared on several well-known TV series, including “From Dusk till Dawn” and “Prison Break.” But back in December 2006, Garrison pleaded guilty to drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter chargers after a crash killed his 17-year-old passenger. He served two years in prison and was released in April 2009.
When Michael Massee’s acting career first began, he landed the role of Funboy in 1993’s “The Crow.” Unfortunately for Massee, he wound up being the guy who fired the bullet that accidentally killed Brandon Lee. (The gun was supposed to be loaded with blanks, but still held ammo in its chamber from a previous scene.) Massee told Extra in 2005, “I don't think you ever get over something like that.”
On May 16, 1990, Christian Brando, a former child actor and the son of screen legend Marlon Brando, shot and killed his half-sister’s boyfriend. Although he claimed to have only wanted to scare the man, Brando also admitted to being under the influence of alcohol and acting on the belief that his half-sister had been the victim of domestic abuse. He pleaded guilty manslaughter and served five years in prison.
John Wilkes Booth
For 150 years, John Wilkes Booth has been famous for one thing, and one thing only: assassinating U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. But Booth, a handsome and popular stage actor, was already famous well before he was a murderer. In fact, the entire Booth family was something of a theatrical dynasty in the 19th century. But artistic dynasties tend to end when somebody in the family becomes one of the most famous assassins in history.
Throughout the 1910s and 1920s, Fatty Arbuckle was one of the most popular comedic actors in Hollywood. In 1921, Arbuckle was accused of raping and inadvertently killing aspiring actress Virginia Rappe. He was put on trial for manslaughter three times, with the first two resulting in hung juries. On April 12, 1922, Arbuckle was acquitted and received a formal apology from the jury.