Last Movie Roles – Part 2

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Bruce Lee – Game of Death

Bruce Lee was midway into production with “Game of Death”, when he was called away to star in “Enter the Dragon” (1973.)  After completing “Dragon”, he intended to finish “Death”.  Instead, he was found dead with actress Betty Ting Pei from the drug Equagesic (containing meprobamate.)  This caused cerebral edema (brain swelling.)  Fans insist Lee was killed by rival martial arts leaders for teaching his style of fighting to non-Asians.  “Game of Death” was completed in 1978, using a lookalike actor.

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Brandon Lee – The Crow

Son of Bruce Lee, Brandon was following in his father’s footsteps.  He had already had success with “Rapid Fire” (1992.)  “The Crow”, a dark, goth, revenge drama would make him a star.  Fate would step in, however, when a .44 Magnum revolver was loaded with real bullets instead of blanks during filming.  Brandon Lee was fatally shot on March 31, 1993.  “The Crow” was finished with doubles and digitally-altered images.  [Note:  In “Game of Death”, Lee’s character is shot while filming a scene for a movie.]

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John Wayne – The Shootist

Western star John Wayne stars as J.B. Books – a gunfighter/former Marshall, who has only weeks to live.  A sad and poignant end to a distinguished career.  Wayne died three years later from cancer – probably contracted from radioactive soil near St. George, Utah, while filming “The Conqueror” (1956.)

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Richard Burton – 1984

Burton’s best film in years as “O’Brien”, the man who held your worst fears in Room 101.  [Based on George Orwell’s classic novel.]  Amazingly, he was nominated seven times for an Academy Award, yet never won.  Cause of death:  cerebral hemorrhage on August 5, 1984.

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Montgomery Clift – The Defector

Montgomery Clift starred in this low-budget, cold-war drama only to prove to Warner Brothers he could still function well enough to perform with Elizabeth Taylor in “Reflections in a Golden Eye” (1967.)  Unfortunately, he died soon after filming from a heart attack.  (Clift had been having health problems for ten years following a near fatal car accident.)  Marlon Brando replaced him in “Reflections in a Golden Eye”.

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Edward G. Robinson – Soylent Green

Edward G. Robinson (deaf and terminally ill) knew he was dying from cancer and used it to great effect in his grand finale with star Charlton Heston.  Robinson would win an Honorary Oscar, posthumously, that same year.  (1973.)

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Alfred Hitchcock – Family Plot

Director Alfred Hitchcock became world famous for his suspense thrillers:  “Psycho”, “Vertigo”, “Frenzy”, “The Birds”, “North by Northwest,” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much”.  Likewise, his celebrity grew through his film cameos.  Additionally, he introduced every episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1955-1965.)  His last cameo was as a silhouette.  Hitchcock died in 1980 from kidney failure.

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Heath Ledger – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Director-writer Terry Gilliam’s over-the-top ode to the Illuminati:  complete with the death of its star, Heath Ledger.  On January 22, 2008, Ledger was found not breathing in his apartment.  First to be contacted was his girlfriend, Mary-Kate Olsen, and then later 9-1-1.  Eventual cause of death was discovered to be a lethal combination of drugs.  Ledger’s doctors were cleared of wrongdoing.  Olsen refused to speak with police unless granted immunity.  Ledger was replaced with three different actors:  Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell.

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Kim Novak – Lieberstraum

Actress Kim Novak is still very much alive, but she has vowed that “Lieberstraum” will be her swansong, stating that her best scene was cut.  The movie is a “Twin Peaks”-like mystery without the mastery of David Lynch.  (Mike Figgis directed.)  Maybe, that’s why it wasn’t a hit.  Still, Miss Novak is always worth watching and she’s excellent in it.

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Brittany Murphy – Deadline

The pictures say it all, don’t they?  On December 20, 2009, Brittany Murphy was found collapsed in her shower.  She had been suffering from ill health recently and the cause of death was attributed to “pneumonia, anemia, and multiple drugs.”  Strangely enough, her husband Simon Monjack died on May 23, 2010 from pneumonia and anemia.  Police blamed “mold”, then later recanted.  Murphy’s father paid for his own analysis and said she’d been poisoned.

Article Text © 2017 – ERN.  All Rights Reserved.

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