21 Celebs Who Died — Some Really Young — During The Most Successful Times In Their Careers

1.First, Chadwick Boseman died in 2020 at the age of 43 from colon cancer. At the time of his death, Chadwick had just completed several big projects, like Da 5 Bloods and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, with the latter earning him a posthumous Oscar nomination. After the historic success of Black Panther, Chadwick was also slated to begin production on Black Panther 2.

Closeup of Chadwick Boseman

2.Heath Ledger was found dead in his apartment on Jan. 23, 2008. The day before he was nominated for his second Academy Award for his work as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Following his death, Heath won an Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe, and a SAG Award for his work in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight.

Closeup of Heath Ledger

His final film role ended up being The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which he was in the middle of filming.

Barry King / WireImage / Getty Images

3.James Dean died in a car crash in Sept. 1955 when he was only 24 years old. Earlier that same year, James starred in East of Eden, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Following his death, Rebel Without a Cause was released, which became his most celebrated role.

James Dean

4.Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was killed on March 31, 1995 outside a motel in Texas when she was only 23 years old. The year before her death, Selena won her first Grammy Award for Best Mexican-American Album for Selena and her posthumous album Dreaming of You debuted at the top of the Billboard 200, making Selena the first Latin solo artist to do so.

Selena holding her Grammy

5.River Phoenix died in 1993 at the age of 23. Prior to his death, he starred in movies like Stand by Me, Running on Empty, My Own Private Idaho, and more. Running on Empty earned him an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

River Phoenix

6.Jimi Hendrix died in 1970 at age 27. At the time of his death, he was considered a genius musician and "a star, as brightly gorgeous as a star [who has] ever graced rock 'n roll music." His performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Woodstock in 1969 earned him his one and only Grammy nomination. His influence is still felt today, and he is one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century.

Jimi Hendrix onstage

7.Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash in 2001 when she was only 22 years old. Prior to her death, she released three studio albums including Aaliyah, which came out a little over a month before her death. Posthumously, she received three Grammy Award nominations for Best R&B Album and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

Aaliyah onstage

8.Amy Winehouse died in 2011 at the age of 27. Three years prior, she had won five Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year for "Rehab." Back to Black, her second studio album, is still considered one of the best albums of the 21st century by some music critics.

Amy Winehouse onstage

9.Tupac Shakur was killed in Sept. 1996 while leaving a boxing match in Las Vegas. At the time of his death, he had released four studio albums including All Eyez on Me. The album charted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 when it debuted and has gone on to be considered one of the best albums of all time.

Closeup of Tupac

10.Mac Miller died in 2018 at the age of 26. At the time of his death, Mac had released five studios albums, with the latest being Swimming, which earned him a posthumous Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Album. In 2020, Circles was released, which was the album Mac was working on at the time of his death. His final album received acclaim from critics and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200.

Mac Miller onstage

11.Sharon Tate was murdered by members of the Manson Family in 1969 alongside four other people. Sharon had risen to widespread acclaim thanks to her performance in Valley of the Dolls in 1967. The role earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination for Most Promising Newcomer — Female. At the time of her death, she was thought to be "one of Hollywood's most promising young starlets, even though her television and film appearances were not primarily in leading roles."

Closeup of Sharon Tate

12.Kurt Cobain died in 1994 at age 27. At the time of his death, Nirvana had released three studio albums including Nevermind, which steadily rose up the Billboard 200 charts eventually becoming the No. 1 album in 1992. Nearly two years after his death, Kurt won a posthumous Grammy alongside Nirvana for Best Alternative Music Performance for their legendary MTV Unplugged in New York album.

Kurt Cobain onstage

13.Angus Cloud died at the age of 25 in 2023. At the time of his death, not only was he known for starring as Fez on Euphoria, but he has three films — Your Lucky Day, Freaky Tales, and an untitled movie from the team behind Ready or Not and the new Scream movies — that are scheduled to release posthumously.

Closeup of Angus Cloud

14.Cory Monteith died in 2013 when he was only 31 years old. At the time of his death, Cory was starring as Finn Hudson on Glee, a show that launched his career and received critical acclaim. His death was written into the series with the Season 5 episode "The Quarterback," which brought in 7.4 million viewers when it aired, marking one of the biggest episodes for the series since early Season 4.

On the 10-year anniversary of his death, Lea Michele wrote on Instagram,

15.Cameron Boyce died in 2019 at just 20 years old. Cameron starred in the hit Disney Channel show Jessie before landing the role of Carlos in the Descendants movie franchise. When the first film debuted, it received 10.5 million viewers, making it one of the biggest Disney Channel movies since Teen Beach Movie in 2013. Posthumously, Cameron had five projects release, including Descendants 3, Mrs. Fletcher, and Runt.

Closeup of Cameron Boyce

16.Paul Walker died in a car crash in 2013 at age 40. At the time, he was in the middle of starring in the Fast and Furious movie franchise, which earned him widespread recognition. In 2014, following the release of Fast & Furious 6, Paul won Best On-Screen Duo at the MTV Movie Awards alongside Vin Diesel, an award they had previously won in 2002 when the first movie debuted.

Closeup of Paul Walker

17.Janis Joplin died in 1970 at the age of 27. She had recorded four albums, with two of them being solo albums. She is widely considered "one of the biggest female rock stars of her time" even before her death. In 1972, Janis was nominated for two Grammy Awards posthumously for Pearl.

Janis Joplin onstage

18.John Candy died in 1994 from a heart attack at age 43. In the years leading up to his death, John was one of the most in demand comedic actors, starring in movies like Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Splash, The Great Outdoors, Uncle Buck, Spaceballs, Cool Runnings, and more. In 1995, following his death, he was awarded the Earle Grey Award alongside the SCTV cast for their lifetime achievements in comedy.

Closeup of John Candy

19.Taylor Hawkins died in 2022 at age 50. Considered one of the best rock drummers of all time, he was known for his work with the Foo Fighters. Alongside several Grammy Awards, he was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside the band in 2021. Less than a month after his death, the Foo Fighters won three Grammy Awards for their latest album.

Closeup of Taylor Hawkins

20.Brittany Murphy died in 2009 from pneumonia at age 32. Leading up to her death, Brittany had starred in a string of successful movies like Clueless, Uptown Girls, Sin City, Girl, Interrupted, 8 Mile, and more. Posthumously, she appeared in two movies.

Closeup of Brittany Murphy

21.And finally, Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray while filming a documentary in 2006 at age 44. He received global fame thanks to his nature series The Crocodile Hunter, which he hosted alongside his wife Terri. At the time of his death, the Prime Minister of Australia John Howard said it was "a huge loss to Australia."

Closeup of Steve Irwin

Posthumously, his family have continued his legacy with their most recent show Crikey! It's the Irwins, which shows, Terri, Robert, and Bindi Irwin work at the Australia Zoo.

NBC / Getty Images

We can't fit everyone into one post, so which other celeb deaths were you shocked by and now consider that they were at one of the most successful points in their career? Tell us in the comments below!