10+ Tragic Celebrity Stories Fans May Not Know About

Given their current glitz and glamour, many assume that celebrities haven't had a hard life.

But it's actually to the contrary, as many have overcome difficult hardships. This includes everything from poverty to bullying. Some even encountered grizzly murders!

If you're ready for it, here are 10+ tragic celeb stories you may not know about.

TW: This article contains depictions or discussions of sensitive topics and may be triggering to some readers.

1. Jennifer Hudson

With her bright smile and angelic voice, you would have never have guessed the hardships Jennifer Hudson has faced.

The singer’s mother, brother, and seven-year-old nephew were horrifically murdered by her former brother-in-law, William Balfour, in 2012.

2. Sofia Vergara

Growing up in a well-known family in Columbia meant that Vergara faced the hardships of being a target for kidnappings and extortion.

Years after she “escaped” to America, she was sadly informed that her brother had been killed in the streets of her hometown.

3. Marie Osmond

Three years after a hard divorce, the actress and singer experienced the worst nightmare a mother could face.

In March of 2010, her 18-year-old adopted son Michael tragically took his own life. He had been battling substance abuse and depression stemming from his parent's divorce.

4. Kanye West

Yeezy had a rough go at it when he suffered a broken jaw from a car crash in 2002.

But nothing could compare to the pain of losing his mother, Donda, in 2007, a day after she had plastic surgery.

5. Mark Ruffalo

His younger brother, Scott, was a murder victim.

In December 2008, Scott was shot dead in his Beverly Hills apartment. The murder is still unsolved to this day, sadly. As if that wasn't bad enough, Mark was also once diagnosed with a brain tumor.

6. Drew Barrymore

Since the Never Been Kissed star was a self-proclaimed "party girl," her mom sent her to a rehab institution by age 12.

When she broke sobriety, she hit rock bottom and even went to a mental institution for 18 months.

7. Jamie Lee Curtis

For 10 years, the actress had been nursing a secret Vicodin addiction and no one knew.

"I was the wildly controlled drug addict and alcoholic. I never did it when I worked. I never took drugs before 5 p.m. I never, ever took painkillers at 10 in the morning," she told Variety.

8. Demi Moore

A lot of the star's tragic childhood was written in her memoir, Inside Out.

One of these stories was how Demi had to endure her mother's many suicide attempts at a young age. This included digging pills from her mom's mouth.

That wasn't the only trauma she endured from her mother.

In a bone-chilling interview with Good Morning America, she revealed that her mother once “sold her” to a man one night for $500.

He ended up sexually assaulting her.

9. Jim Carrey

Before he was making the world laugh with his movies, life for Jim Carrey wasn't so funny.

After his dad lost his job, the family was forced to live in a van and all work to make money.

10. Pierce Brosnan

The James Bond actor was thrust into single fatherhood after his wife Cassandra tragically died of ovarian cancer.

This left him with three kids to raise alone. Thankfully, he took on the role with grace, making him one of Hollywood's best single dads!

11. Oprah

Oprah's life as a young adult was a far cry from the glamorous life she's living now.

She dealt with traumatic things such as abuse, abandonment, and living in poverty before she worked her way up the media mogul ladder.

12. Woody Harrelson

Woody was just 12 when he heard his father's name mentioned on the radio in regard to a murder trial.

His father, Charles V Harrelson, was jailed for five years in 1973 for the murder of a man.

13. Dylan McDermott

This horror movie actor had his own horror story when his mother was killed by her boyfriend when he was only five.

A young Dylan contacted the police, informing them about information. This gave them enough evidence to charge John Sponza with murder.

14. Tina Fey

Paramount Pictures

When she was five and living in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a stranger came up and attacked the comedian out of nowhere.

"It's impossible to talk about it without somehow seemingly exploiting it and glorifying it," the comedian told Vanity Fair in 2018.

15. Terrence Howard

Instagram | @theterrencehoward](https://www.instagram.com/p/71QK4biY9l/)

What should have been a merry day turned horrific when Terrence's father got mad at an older man for cutting in line to see Santa Claus.

His father ended up taking the man's life, making the murder known as “the Santa Line Slaying." He was sentenced to 11 years in prison when Terrence was just two years old.

16. Joaquin Phoenix

Before Joaquin rose to fame, it was his older brother River Phoenix who paved the way with iconic roles in Stand By Me and My Own Private Idaho.

Sadly, he ended up dying from a drug overdose.

He had taken a combination of cocaine, heroin, and valium together, also known as “speedball."

The Joker actor honored the memory of his late brother when he welcomed his first child with fiancée Rooney Mara.

They named him River after him.

17. Charlize Theron

The actress has overcome a lot. When she was a kid, her mother killed her father in self-defense.

This happened when her abusive alcoholic father came home intoxicated and threatened her mother with a gun.

18. Zack Snyder

Around the time that Zack began shooting Justice League, his family faced a tragedy of unparalleled proportions.

After a lengthy battle with depression and mental illness, Zack's daughter sadly took her own life. He was forced to walk away from JL and Joss Whedon was brought in to complete the film.

19. Sylvester Stallone

Sly's son Sage was found by his housekeeper less than two weeks after getting extensive dental surgery.

Speculation immediately began to swirl that Sage's death was the result of a drug overdose, but both Sly and his first wife Sasha Czack refute those claims.

20. John Travolta

This year would mark the 30th wedding-anniversary of John Travolta and Kelly Preston.

After a lengthy and strenuous two-year battle with breast cancer, Kelly sadly passed away surrounded by family in July of 2020. As the anniversary of her death approaches, we wish John and his family all the best.

21. Martin Short

Martin and his wife Nancy were the living embodiment of a romantic partnership. For more than 30 years, their love was constant and never waned.

In 2010, she lost her life to breast cancer. He told People that even though she's gone, he still communicates with her all the time.

22. Paul McCartney

Paul and his first wife Linda McCartney first met in 1969. Two years later, they formed the band Wings and toured the country together.

Sadly, Linda passed away in 1998 due to complications brought on by breast cancer.

23. Kelsey Grammer

Kelsey's life has been mired by tragedy. His father was murdered in a home-invasion when Kelsey was only 13-years-old.

Years later, his sister Karen was abducted by a notorious spree killer. Unfortunately, she lost her life to the killer at 18-years-old.

24. Brandon Lee

During a pivotal gunfight scene in The Crow, one of the blank pieces of ammunition malfunctioned and fired-off a live round.

Brandon was shot and died as a result of his wounds. A body double was brought in to finish the final scenes of the movie.

25. Keanu Reeves

Years ago, Keanu met and fell in love with a woman named Jennifer Syme. The couple was eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child when Jennifer sadly had a still-birth at 8 months.

She was killed in a car crash less than two years later.

26. Shania Twain

Shania Twain may be Country Royalty now, but hers is a true rags-to-riches story. As a child, Shania and her family were deeply impoverished.

She admits there were times when she'd have to put herself in the middle of her parents in order to keep them from physically fighting.

27. Anton Yelchin

Anton was a rising star plagued by a tragic end.

After fumbling to open the security door of his gated-apartment, Anton was crushed to death when his car accidentally slipped out of Park and into gear. His death sent shockwaves through the entertainment world.

29. Michael C. Hall

I'm proud to say that Michael C. Hall's battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma has a happy ending, but for a while it looked as if the actor would indeed lose his life.

Michael continued to film Dexter while he was receiving chemo treatments.

28. Andy Whitfield

Sadly, the story of Andy Whitfield doesn't have the same happy ending. Shortly after the first season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Andy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

The show postponed production to give Andy time to get treatment, but still sadly lost his life to the disease.

31. John Ritter

The news of John Ritter's heart-attack alone would have been tragic enough. But the fact that it happened on-set, right in front of the cast and crew, adds an entirely new layer of sadness to an already unbearable situation.

30. Aaliyah

Only the good die young, so the saying goes. At the time of her death, Aaliyah was a rising star and one of the most prominent and popular female hip-hop artists in the game.

She was killed instantly after her passenger plane crashed immediately after takeoff.

32. Selena Quintanilla

Most people are probably more than familiar with the Selena biopic starring J-Lo but are likely less familiar with the singer's tragic tale.

Selena was murdered by Yolanda Saldívar, the former President of her own fan club after Selena accused her of misappropriating and embezzling funds.

33. Phil Hartman


Phil Hartman was one of the most talented, well-respected, and coveted comedians of the '90s.

He was shot and killed while he slept by his own wife, Brynn Hartman. She was suffering from mental illness and committed took her own life shortly after.

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