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TV Diary: Remembering actors who left us too soon

Monday, November 19, 2012 - 12:01 am

I recently was watching “Addams Family Values” on TV when I lamented the passing of Raul Julia (Gomez Addams). The talented Julia died at the peak of his career in 1994 at age 54.

I began to think about other stars who passed away too young or at the height of their careers.

•James Dean is probably first on everyone's list. His untimely death in 1955 made him a legend at age 24.

•While on a trip to sell war bonds, Carole Lombard died at age 33 in an airplane crash. The actress, born in Fort Wayne, made no less than three movies a year from 1927 until her death in January 1942.

•Rebecca Schaeffer, 21, was a co-star on “My Sister Sam” when a deranged fan obtained her address from the local BMV and shot her to death in her doorway in 1989. After her death, stalking laws against celebrities were passed.

•Heath Ledger, 28, received posthumously an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for “The Dark Knight.” This performance reinforced how versatile an actor Ledger was.

•Sal Mineo's untimely murder at age 37 in 1976 by a drifter ended a steady string of TV appearances and starring roles in movies that spanned two decades.

•The Platinum Blonde — Jean Harlow — also made numerous films during the 1920s and '30s. She became ill during filming “Saratoga” with Clark Gable and died at age 26. The film was finished with body doubles, and Gable said he felt he was filming with a ghost.