Heath Ledger could be the latest star to have died from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. Ledger was taking anti-depressants as well as the “dangerous drug” Ambien at the time of his death, although his autopsy today was inconclusive. While most celebrity overdoses have been the result of either suicide or the use of illegal drugs, a surprising number of stars have died by accident — from medications you can purchase at the corner pharmacy. Here’s a list of accidental celebrity drug deaths:
1.) MARILYN MONROE.
Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” died from an overdose of sleeping pills — specifically, Nembutal and chloral hydrate . Although Monroe’s death was officially listed as a suicide in 1962, many forensic experts and investigators now say the overdose was more likely to have been accidental.
2.) ELVIS PRESLEY.
Perhaps the most famous prescription-drug abuser of all time, Elvis Presley died in 1977 from an overdose of medications while on the toilet in his Graceland mansion. Presley’s ex-wife wrote: “Presley was taking Placidyls to combat severe insomnia in ever increasing doses and later took Dexedrine to counter the sleeping pills’ after effects.” Presley’s personal physician, Dr. George C. Nichopoulos, concluded: “Elvis’s problem was that he didn’t see the wrong in it. He felt that by getting [pills] from a doctor, he wasn’t the common everyday junkie…”
3.) JUDY GARLAND.
Judy Garland, the Wizard of Oz star was found dead in her London bathroom by her husband in 1969. Coroner Gavin Thursdon said the cause of death was an accidental overdose of Seconal.
4.) MICHAEL JACKSON.
On June 25, 2009 the “King of Pop”, Michael Jackson died from an acute intoxication of propofol and benzodiazepine.
5.) ANNA NICOLE SMITH.
According to Wikipedia, “Ultimately her death [in 2007] was ruled an accidental drug overdose of the sedative chloral hydrate that became increasingly lethal when combined with other prescription drugs in her system, specifically 4 benzodiazepines: Klonopin (Clonazepam), Ativan (Lorazepam), Serax (Oxazepam), and Valium (Diazepam). Furthermore, she had taken Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) and Topamax (Toprimate), an anticonvulsant GABA agonist, which likely contributed to the sedative effect of chloral hydrate and the benzodiazepines.”
6.) DOROTHY DANDRIDGE.
The first African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award, Dorthy Dandridge was found dead in West Hollywood in 1965 from an overdose of Imipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant. It’s believed she improperly combined the medication — which she took for her bipolar disorder — with pain medication she received after breaking an ankle.
7.) BRITTANY MURPHY.
On December 20, 2009 actress Brittany Murphy passed away due to pneumonia, anemia and high levels of her prescribe medications: hydrocodone, acetaminophen, L-methamphetamine and chlorpheniramine.
8.) BRUCE LEE.
According to wikipedia, the famed martial artist Bruce Lee died on May 10, 1973 due to an analgesic (painkiller) that was given to him for a headache. The painkiller contained both aspirin and a tranquilizer, meprobamate.
9.) MARGEUX HEMINGWAY.
On July 1, 1996, the actress Margeux Hemingway and grand daughter of Ernest Hemingway was found dead at the age of 42 in her studio apartment due to an apparent overdose of phenobarbital.
10.) ROBERT WALKER.
Perhaps the most bizarre accidental prescription-drug death. Robert Walker, the star of Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train died mysteriously in 1951 after being given an injection of the “truth serum” sodium amytal by psychiatrists at his home.
11.) HEATH LEDGER.
On January 22, 2008 influential actor and director Heath Ledger died in his Manhattan apartment from an accidental overdose due to the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylaminie.
12.) WHITNEY HOUSTON.
Beloved singer, songwriter and actress Whitney Houston died on February 11, 2012 due to drowning, atherosclerotic heart disease, cocaine, diphenhydramine, alprazolam, cannabis and cyclobenzaprine.
13.) PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN.
On February 2, 2014 actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died at the age of 46 in a Manhattan apartment due to “acute mixed drug intoxication” from including heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines and amphetamine.