Actors Who Died Soon After They Became Famous

Fans were heart-broken when Heath Ledger died in January 2008, at the height of his fame. Toxicologists determined that Ledger died of an accidental overdose, as the result of abusing prescription medications. Only 28 years old at the time of his death, he was on the cusp of releasing “The Dark Knight,” which ended up earning Ledger an Oscar for his performance as The Joker.

The Australian actor first made his mark in 1999, when he appeared as bad boy Patrick Verona in the teen film “10 Things I Hate About You.” From there, he quickly transitioned into more serious parts, starring in films such as “The Patriot,” “Monster’s Ball,” “The Brothers Grimm,” and “The Four Feathers.” Including posthumous releases, Ledger accumulated 23 acting credits. He received widespread acclaim for his role in “Brokeback Mountain,” in which he starred as Ennis Del Mar, a married cowboy who has a secret gay relationship in 1960s and ’70s Wyoming. For the role, Ledger earned an Academy Award nomination, a BAFTA nomination, a Golden Globe nomination, and a Screen Actors Guild nomination, among other awards.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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