There is nothing worse than killing someone, and whether it's criminal or not, it is obviously a very difficult event to get past. People do, though, and in this feature we’ll share ten stories of celebrities who have surprisingly snuffed out a human life (or several). Some even became more famous post-homicide than after. Tragic, disturbing and unpleasant, here are ten celebs who have killed people.
Actor Matthew Broderick is well known as one of the most likable people in Hollywood, which is why the fact that he has not one, but two, deaths on his conscience is shocking. In 1987, when driving with then-girlfriend Jennifer Grey on a country road in Ireland, Broderick lost control of his vehicle and it swerved into the oncoming lane, crashing into another car. The occupants of that car, Anna Gallagher and her mother Margaret Doherty, were killed instantly. Broderick spent a month in the hospital and his memory of the crash was virtually erased, but police found he wasn’t drunk or otherwise impaired so he eventually got off with a $175 fine.
Charles S. Dutton
Dutton is one of Hollywood’s most dependable black actors, with a tremendous filmography that includes hits like "Rudy." He also produced "The Corner" for HBO, which would eventually evolve into all-time TV classic "The Wire." Dutton’s familiarity with the mean streets of Baltimore is no coincidence, though. He grew up there, and in his youth he dropped out of school to pursue a career as a boxer. At the age of 17, he got into a fight with another young man and ended up accidentally stabbing him to death. Found guilty of manslaughter, Dutton spent seven years in prison. While serving his time, he discovered the art of drama and from then on it was the straight and narrow path to rectification.
Rock 'n' roll takes a hard toll on the bodies of those who practice it, and Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil is living proof of that. During the band’s hard-partying '80s heyday, Neil left a party at his house in his 1972 Ford Pantera with Hanoi Rocks drummer “Razzle” Dingley in the passenger seat. Needless to say, Vince had been drinking all day and should never have been behind the wheel, so it came as no surprise when he lost control and smashed head-on into a Volkswagen. Dingley was killed instantly and the driver and passenger of the other car both suffered severe head trauma. Amazingly, Neil only served 30 days in jail for the incident.
Back in the late 1960s, Claudine Longet was the face of swinging France, a gorgeous brunette with a sweet singing voice and a nice body. Her career started to flatten out in the 1970s, but she was still doing fine when her relationship with Olympic skier Vladimir “Spider” Sabich came to a gruesome end in 1976. Sabich returned home after a day of skiing and prepared to shower, taking some time to show Longet a new gun he’d bought. As she held the gun, it went off in her hands, hitting Sabich in the gut. She claimed it was an accident, and several screw-ups by the police resulted in Longet getting a conviction for misdemeanor criminal negligence and just 30 days in prison, served non-consecutively.
The former First Lady has a dark tragedy in her past. At the tender young age of 17, when she was still Laura Welch, she was involved in a bizarre and violent accident that claimed the life of a close friend. While driving one November night in 1963, she ran a stop sign and smashed into another car being driven by classmate and ex-boyfriend Michael Dutton Douglas. The future Mrs. Bush and her friend in the passenger seat were treated for minor injuries, but Douglas was killed instantly. The incident caused Laura to lose her faith in God for some years and continues to haunt her.
Another rock 'n' roll fatality, hard-drinking drummer Keith Moon of The Who had a rough night at the pub that resulted in the death of his own manager. In January 1970, Moon and Neil Boland went to the grand opening of the Red Lion, a Hertfordshire pub that his neighbors’ son had just opened. Unfortunately, also attending was a gang of skinheads, who didn’t take kindly to the foppish (and wealthy) Moon. Things quickly got violent, and as Moon and his entourage tried to escape, Boland ended up in front of the Bentley that the drummer was driving, getting crushed underneath the vehicle. He was pronounced dead in hospital the same night.
The world of sports has plenty of stories of athletes behaving badly with firearms, but one of the most notorious incidents actually took a man’s life. Jayson Williams was one of the NBA’s top stars in the 1990s until an on-court accident broke his leg and forced him to retire. In 2002, Williams was giving a tour of his palatial New Jersey mansion to a group of people including limousine driver Costas Christofi when he picked up a shotgun and started showing off by spinning it in one hand. The gun was loaded and went off, killing Christofi. Williams was finally convicted of reckless manslaughter in 2010 and sentenced to five years in prison.
The lovely Rebecca Gayheart first came to fame in the 1990s as the face of Noxzema in multiple television commercials, and went on to have a successful career on shows like "Beverly Hills 90210." She also had a sex tape, but who doesn’t? Her encounter with death came in 2001, though, when she was driving in Los Angeles. The cars in front of her had stopped to let 9-year-old Jorge Cruz, Jr. cross the street (illegally, as he wasn’t in a crosswalk), and Gayheart, talking on her cell phone, swerved around to pass and struck the child, killing him. She pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to three years of probation.
Donnell “Spade” Cooley was known as the King of Western Swing, melding a country sound with big band style to produce feel-good music throughout the 1940s. He worked in a number of films as a stand-in for Roy Rogers and released a number of hit records. That wasn’t enough to keep his wife Ella May faithful, however. Cooley suspected her (correctly) of sleeping around, and in 1961 finally snapped and beat her to death in the couple’s Willow Springs house, crushing a lit cigarette on her skin to make sure she was dead. He claimed she slipped in the shower, but he was sentenced to life in prison. On a furlough to play a concert in 1969, he had a heart attack and died after his performance.
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If you’re going to manage some of the toughest boxers in the fight game – George Foreman and Mike Tyson, among others – you have to be a tough guy yourself. Don King is most famous for his huge hair, but the Ohio-born promoter started his life as a petty criminal. After dropping out of Kent State in the 1950s, he ran a bookmaking operation and ended up killing two people. First, he shot a man in the back when he was trying to rob one of King’s gambling establishments, and then 13 years later he brutally stomped one of his employees to death for stealing $600. Amazingly, he got off with a non-negligent manslaughter charge and four years in prison.