10 Celebrities Who Passed Away Because of Alcoholism
This article contains a list of the top 10 celebrities who died of alcoholism. While we may be used to hearing of celebrities who died because of heroin or other hard drugs, many have also died due to alcohol addiction.
Alcoholism addiction is more than just a lack of self-control; it is medically considered an all-out addictive disorder. This means it is not a totally bad habit; it is sometimes a disease.
Including Amy Winehouse, Verne Troyer, David Cassidy, Michael Elphick, and Jason Molina, this list features 10 celebrities who, due to one reason or the other, couldn’t fight alcohol addiction and later lost their lives to the disease.
Popular female movie stars like Barbara Payton and Julia Burns are also just a few of the women celebrities who died of alcoholism.
While taking hard drugs may seem to be the well-known reason celebrities die, alcohol addiction is a serious syndrome. This is because it has the potential to damage every organ in the body, including the brain, which can eventually lead to other psychiatric disorders. Celebrity deaths are always heartbreaking, but losing notable stars to alcoholism is no different.
1. Amy Winehouse (1983-2011)
Amy Winehouse was born on 14th September 1983 in London, England, and died on 23rd July 2011. She was a British singer and songwriter who came to the limelight after having a multiple Grammy Award-winning album Back to Black in 2006. However, Winehouse’s erratic behavior, tempestuous love life, drug abuse, and alcoholism cut short her ever-blooming music career.
Winehouse was raised solely by her mum, a pharmacist. During her early days in school, she demonstrated an unwavering passion for arts and entertainment but was allegedly expelled from Sylvia Young theatre school because she wore a nose ring. Amy was a gifted actress and singer, and by age 16, she was performing with jazz groups.
Amy broke into the music world at age 16 when a classmate passed her demo tape to a record label.
She eventually signed her first record deal, and her fame spread. Amy won five Grammy Awards on her debut album Back to Black. Some of the popular tracks in the album include “Love Is a Losing Game” and “Rehab.”
Amy confessed in an exclusive interview that she started taking alcohol at age 12. She revealed she drank every day and was addicted to taking Jack Daniel’s in the latter part of her life. She also confessed she loves Dooley’s toffee vodka and could literally take it easy every night.
Amy Winehouse’s Death
Sadly speaking, Amy Winehouse’s great talent was cut short by addiction to alcohol and drugs. She died tragically on 23rd July 2011 at the age of 27 from accidental alcohol poisoning.
2. Verne Troyer (1st January 1969 – 21st April 2018)
Verne Troyer is an American actor, YouTuber, comedian, and stunt performer. He was well known for his lead role of Mini-Me in the Austin Powers. He suffered cartilage–hair hypoplasia and was 2 ft 8 in (81 cm) tall. He was born on 1st January 1969 in Sturgis, Michigan, to the family of Reuben Troyer, a repair technician, and Susan, a factory worker. He had two siblings, Deborah and Davon. He revealed that his parents never treated him any different than his other siblings. He graduated from Centreville High School in 1987, where a plaque was dedicated to him in 2003.
Verne’s film career began when he was contacted by a former president of Little People of America to serve as a stunt double in the movie, Baby’s Day Out.
He further gained much popularity as a stunt double in several films of the 1990s, including Dunston Checks In, Jingle All the Way (both 1996), Men in Black (1997),, and My Giant (1998).
On 25th June 2008, a private home video was leaked of Verne Troyer and his girlfriend Ranae Shrider having sex. Also, in early April 2018, Troyer was admitted to a hospital after an incident in his home. He was admitted to rehab to undergo treatment for alcoholism.
Verne Troyer’s Death
On 21st April 2018, Verne Troyer died at a hospital in Los Angeles, California, at age 49. He died from sequelae of alcohol intoxication. His death was allegedly a suicide by alcohol poisoning.
3. David Cassidy
David Cassidy is an American singer and actor known for his leading role in the 1970s musical television series ‘The Partridge Family.’
He was born in New York City on 12th April 1950. He rose to the limelight in 1970 when he featured in the Partridge Family musical TV series. In addition to being popular on TV, David continued to perform in concerts with theater productions. However, in the latter part of his life, he opened up about his struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse.
David had a complicated marital life until he finally divorced in 2016. He officially made his struggles with alcohol addiction and drug abuse public in 2008. He was later charged with a series of DUI offenses and entered rehab in 2014. David Cassidy filed for bankruptcy in 2015, and in 2017, he lied to People Magazine he had a brain disease dementia, a disease his mother and father also battled.
David Cassidy’s Death
On 18th November 2017, it was all over the news that David was in critical condition at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He later died on 21st November.
However, in the Biography documentary special, it was revealed David confessed to his producer stating the truth about his health challenge. He said he never suffered from dementia. In his own words, he said, “There is no sign of me having dementia at this stage of my life. It was complete alcohol poisoning; The fact is I lied about my drinking. I did this to myself to cover up the sadness and the emptiness.”
4. Michael Elphick
Michael Elphick was a very popular American actor. He is fondly remembered for his lead role in the hit series Boon as Ken Boon. He died after a protracted illness caused by a long-running battle with alcohol addiction at the age of 55.
Michael had a long career on TV for over 33 years, and his many excellent appearances included Three Up Two Down, Dennis Potter’s Play for Today: Blue Remembered Hills (1979), as the bully, Peter; The Knowledge (1979), when he played a would-be London cab driver driven almost to despair by the sadistic examiner (played by Nigel Hawthorne); Private Schulz (1981), Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (1983).
His career was remarkably less successful but nonetheless featured a rich and varied vein of characterizations.
His final film role proved to be the film Out of Bounds, where he had a small role.
Michael Elphick’s Death
On 7th September 2002, Michael Elphick died of a heart attack complicated by his drinking problem. He collapsed at his home in Willesden Green, London, after complaining of pains. He was later rushed to the hospital, where he died at age 55, shortly before his 56th birthday.
5. Jason Molina
Jason Molina was an American singer and songwriter born in 1973 in the Rust Belt. He was a prolific and visionary artist who built a solid and faithful indie following as the frontman for Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. Jason’s minimalist style made fans out of his contemporaries with shades of Neil Young in his voice and a poet’s ear for lyrics.
Jason Molina’s Death
Jason Molina died at the age of 39 in March 2013 of organ failure related to alcohol addiction. News had it that he was a chronic drunk, and he died as a result of too much alcohol consumption.
6. Gary Moore
Fans of hard rock and heavy metal music will be familiar with the legendary musician Gary Moore. While he was a solid musician and guitarist, he was mostly known for his early days in the industry as part of numerous music groups. Gary’s association with the Skid Row band and Thin-Lizzy band are probably his most notable acts. Firstly with Skid Row, before leaving with the founder of Thin Lizzy, Phil Lynott.
After Thin Lizzy was excluded from the band in 1983, Moore would go on to have a Solo career, something he had started whilst the band was still performing. He would continue to perform Solo up until he died in 2011. Mostly known for his facial expressions whilst performing and lyrics that always came from the heart, Moore’s fans dearly loved him. His skills with the guitar are still renowned to this day with industry giants referring to him as a genius.
Alcohol was always a part of Moore’s life from the day he started performing professionally till the day he died. He however managed to keep his drinking under control during the larger part of his career and life. While it is unclear how much he usually drank, it certainly was something he could handle.
The fact that he was Irish may have played a role, providing him with a large tolerance for alcohol. Another factor that may have played a role in his alcohol addiction. In his younger days, during his time with Skid Row and Thin Lizzy, alcohol use never seemed to be a problem. With band rock stars, however, there is usually more alcohol consumption than sobriety in most cases. There were, however, no complaints of excessive drinking, even though there probably were incidents.
Gary Moore’s Death
Gary Moore would eventually die in the early hours of the 6th of February. When he was discovered by his girlfriend, the initial diagnosis was Moore had died of a heart attack. Further analysis confirmed this assessment but also revealed the heart attack was induced by alcoholism.
The amount of alcohol found in his blood after toxicology was said to be more than eight times the legal limit for blood alcohol levels. Witnesses who had last seen him at his hotel confirmed he and his girlfriend had drunk at night before retiring to their hotel room. Upon his death, it was revealed that in his final years, he had fallen to alcoholism and battled it severely.
Since it was probably something he had done for a long time, his heart attack may have come as a result of aging. He could no longer handle massive amounts of alcohol as he once had. With about 380mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood in his body, he was over the average fatality blood alcohol level by at least 30 mg.
7. Oliver Reed
One of the most recognizable names in British Television through the 1970s and ’80s, Oliver Reed is certainly an upper-class Actor. His final film role came in the 2000 blockbuster, Gladiator, with the recognizable role of Antonius Proximo. Fans of the movie will remember Reed’s stellar performance, which would be his last appearance before he died. Off the screen, however, Reed was a frequent drinker whose life can be classified a ‘hellraiser’.
In addition to his acting, Reed also found success in music, where he had various singles some of which were wildly popular. Despite his success off the screen and his frivolous activities, Reed continued to star in and dignify several movies, plays, and television. He was a constant presence in the movie industry for more than 40 years, starting from his debut in 1955.
Had Reed gone on to live a few more years, there is no doubt he would have marked a golden jubilee in the film industry. He was by all accounts, a true icon of cinema.
His alcohol addiction wasn’t something that started in his old age, as it was always a part of his life from his youth. Not only was he known to frequent bars and get drunk, but Reed would often engage in disputes with other alcoholics.
One such incident saw Reed attacked with a broken bottle and severely injured on his face. He claimed he felt his movie career was over after the attack. After a couple of surgeries, however, he would return to the screen.
In another incident, he was visited by Steve McQueen to discuss a film project but instead, ended up on a bar crawl. According to McQueen, Reed got very drunk and even vomited at McQueen at one point during the night. There are numerous other accounts of more activities involving Reed and alcohol addiction, including his two-day binge before his wedding in 1985.
Reed claimed he had drunk 106 pints of beer during this period and was still able to wed his bride shortly after. With Reed’s alcohol exploits, it was a miracle his death due to alcohol didn’t occur sooner.
Oliver Reed’s Death
Reed would eventually die from alcohol-related problems in 1999, while on a break from Filming. Reed suffered a heart attack and was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital but died in transition. Reports claim he had spent his break in a bar where he had consumed almost £500 worth of alcohol, including lager, whisky, and rum.
He had reportedly won an arm-wrestling match against some sailors before his heart attack. With the amount of alcohol he had drunk, coupled with his age and the activities he was engaging in, His heart simply gave out. A friend of his, Omid Djalili, had claimed Reed had given up drinking in preparation to his role in gladiator. He also claimed Reed’s actions in the bar were simply due to pressure from others.
Regardless of the cause, the result was Reed’s death from an alcohol-related heart attack.
8. Dolores O’Riordan
A band rock musician who was widely recognized, Dolores O’Riordan was a true superstar. In the rock industry, she was one of the notable rock musicians through the 1990s with some even dubbing her the face of rock. She rose to fame as the lead singer of the band, “the cranberries,” in the alternative rock genre.
Though not a founding member, O’Riordan would become a lead vocalist and the most recognizable member of the band. She joined less than a year after the band was formed after the lead singer decided to quit the band. While she was a great band member and singer, O’Riordan was a shy girl and didn’t deal too well with performances at first.
However, once she was able to overcome this shyness, the band’s music reached new heights. She would go on to have massive success both with the band and as a solo artist. At one point in the mid-1990s, despite being in her mid-twenties, O’Riordan was one of the wealthiest women in the UK.
Being raised catholic, it is difficult to say O’Riordan always had exposure to alcohol use as a child. Going into the music industry, however, O’Riordan would have been exposed to a lot of alcohol and possibly drugs especially being in the rock genre.
There aren’t any reports that describe O’Riordan as a drunk or someone who battled with alcoholism. Nonetheless, it was possible she used alcohol to cope with some of the rigors and pressure of celebrity life. She even revealed that at one point she had attempted to take her life by overdosing on pills. The attempt was however unsuccessful and she moved on, determined to live on. It doesn’t seem like there were more reports of other incidents that would leave the people around her concerned.
Dolores O’Riordan Death
O’Riordan was said to have accidentally drowned in her hotel room’s bathtub after being intoxicated with alcohol. The official result showed she had more than the legal limit of alcohol in her blood.
While she had been sober enough to converse with her mother in the same night, she had been too intoxicated to notice she was drowning. Her toxicology report also showed there were drugs in her system at the time of death. Following on from the suicide attempt, many people theorized that it was another suicide attempt, with this one being successful.
However, the official reports from the coroner dispelled these rumors, revealing that the drugs in her system couldn’t have killed her. The drugs found were medications and were all in trace amounts. The alcohol was the only thing present in extreme quantities.
9. Brian Connolly
For more than 10 years, Brian Connolly served as lead singer and face of The Sweet, a rock band. For Connolly, music was more than just a career and seemed to be a calling as he had sung all his life, starting at an amateur level. Once he decided that music was his calling, he pursued it, performing for several local bands.
After a few bands, Connolly would eventually team up with another singer from a former band and form The Sweet. At first, the band wasn’t as successful and was barely scraping by, until the addition of Andy Scott. Soon after, the sweet found success, and at the face of it all was Brian Connolly. With his newfound fame, Connolly was propelled into celebrity status.
Brian Connolly is a case of the pressures of fame and success influencing his actions. He wasn’t always an alcoholic, even though he frequently took alcohol. One of his exploits is said to have seen him attacked after leaving a club where he had been drinking.
This would leave him injured, affecting his singing, causing the band members to act. It would result in him losing his standing in the band, being relegated and excluded from decision making. He would handle this by drinking further which would only see things worsen.
Around the 1970s Connolly would truly become an alcoholic and his place in the band would only become more unstable. Around 1977, the band would find more success while Connolly’s Alcoholism further worsened. His relationship with alcohol was described as toxic by his band members. His alcoholism began to affect his music, leading the band to seek an alternative solution. He would eventually depart the band due to this around 1979.
Brian Connolly’s Death
Connolly is a perfect example of the extreme effects of alcohol on the body. Years of drinking and alcoholism culminated in organ failures and multiple heart attacks which resulted in his death. After a prior heart attack, he was hospitalized but didn’t wish to remain in the hospital and was discharged himself.
Unlike most other celebrity alcoholism cases, Connolly’s death wasn’t a result of consuming excessive amounts of alcohol in his old age. Instead, his death came as a result of different alcohol-related choices that he had made throughout his life. Today, Connolly’s alcoholism can serve as a cautionary tale to upcoming musicians and children.
Connolly’s death also offers a gentle reminder that there are diseases and organ failure that are related to alcoholism. While alcohol in small quantities may not be able to bring about organ failure, prolonged use definitely can.
10. Meena Kumari
She may have been dead for about half a decade now, but there is no doubting Meena Kumari’s legacy in the Indian Film industry. Her legacy sees her tagged as the tragedy queen due to the nature of some of her roles. She is revered as iconic, on a similar level to Marilyn Monroe in Hollywood.
Starting as a child actress, Kumari would go on to be a successful actress with more than 92 credits to her name in about 32 years in the industry. She was critically acclaimed as well as loved by audiences for her performances, some of which have been deemed unforgettable.
Kumari’s alcohol addiction might have started before her marriage or after, the accounts differ. However, one constant is that Kumari turned to alcohol as a crutch to ease suffering.
Reports had stated she was physically abused in marriage and she probably sought to drown the pain using alcohol. The more strained her marriage got, the more alcohol she consumed. It was reported at one point, she was having problems sleeping, and the alcohol addiction and drug use skyrocketed.
Alcohol was first given to her by a doctor to help her sleep but only in little quantities. Soon, the doctor’s restrictions didn’t matter and Kumari was frequently drinking herself to sleep.
Meena Kumari’s Death
Kumari’s final days were spent free of alcohol. However, the damage had already been done as Kumari picked up liver cirrhosis. The disease was chronic and despite the best efforts of doctors, she would eventually succumb to it.
At first, she seemed to be getting better and recovering, leading to a return to work, though doctors didn’t support the decision. However, she fell ill shortly after, which resulted in her death. The autopsy confirmed she died from liver cirrhosis, which was induced by her alcohol consumption.
Why Celebrities Resort to Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
Statistics from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 23 million Americans need alcohol or drug treatment. For many celebrities in the US, their addiction struggles are played out publicly along with their recovery and then their relapse.
Many celebrities manifest a strong work ethic and a high drive for success when mixed with certain societal pressures and unhealthy relationships.
A celebrity lives a public life and is often criticized harshly for their life, their everyday appearances, their opinions, how they dress, and their weight. Peer pressure, whether from colleagues, friends, or the general public, is known to have a huge impact on the development of alcoholism or drug abuse.
Celebrities easily resort to a life of drug abuse and alcoholism to wade off the pressure that comes from living a public lifestyle.
A celebrity is in the public eye most of the time and not all of them can handle the pressures that come with it. Alcohol and drugs are readily available in these circles, which could prompt any celebrity to turn to alcoholism. Alcoholism isn’t always viewed as a killer, but it’s the real killer when thoroughly investigated. Many celebrities have died from alcoholism and we’ve highlighted the top 10 celebrities who died of alcoholism above.
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