Actors' Tragic Final Texts Before They Died

Whether or not they were aware of the finality and magnitude of what they wrote, some very famous actors wound up delivering their last words in the form of a text message. Being able to deliver a few thoughts, or even a photo or video, to anyone at any time, and instantaneously at that, is a marvelous feat of modern science. It's become so ordinary that it's easy to overlook the power of a text, which can be used to deliver something tragic, poetic, or headline-grabbing, if it's, say, the last one a big-time actor writes.

That text can stay with the recipient forever as a precious, permanent memento of a lost loved one while also being shared with the world as the final statement of a popular artist. Here are some of the final things some well-liked and world-famous actors said before their tragic deaths, thankfully recorded for posterity because they happened to make those utterances in the form of a text.

Treat Williams

While occasionally popping up in films like "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" or "Mulholland Falls," Treat Williams was the kind of actor who was all over television in the 1980s, '90s, and beyond. He garnered award nominations for TV movies like "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "The Late Shift" while also appearing on "Blue Bloods" and "Chicago Fire" and starring on "Everwood" and "Chesapeake Shores."

On June 12, 2023, a car hit Williams while he was riding his motorcycle near his home in Dorset, Vermont. He was sent via airlift to Albany Medical Center in New York but died from his injuries later that day at the age of 71.

The 1979 film version of the musical "Hair" provided Williams and Beverly D'Angelo with their first leading film roles. The actors remained close friends for more than 40 years, and on a June 2023 Instagram post mourning Williams' death, D'Angelo characterized their relationship as "brother and sister from the start." She also shared a screen-grab of her last text interaction with Williams, sent right after a long and intimate conversation. "Hey treatski. Thank you for calling just love you," D'Angelo wrote. Williams replied with three heart emojis, wrote "Good talk today," and shared a picture of the control panel of the small airplane he was piloting.

Tom Sizemore

When film directors in the 1990s needed an intimidating and fierce actor to play a cop, criminal, soldier, or wounded soul, they called Tom Sizemore. He made an impact in indie movies and blockbusters alike with roles in "Natural Born Killers," "Saving Private Ryan," "Point Break," "Passenger 57," and "True Romance." Headline-grabbing substance abuse issues and multiple domestic abuse incidents negatively impacted Sizemore's career momentum.

On February 18, 2023, Sizemore endured a stroke at his home in Los Angeles, which triggered a brain aneurysm. The actor died on March 3 at St. Joseph's Hospital Burbank after his family opted to discontinue life support; he was 61.

In the days prior to the stroke, Sizemore, who was struggling with addiction, texted with Heidi Fleiss, a former madam whom the actor dated following her release from prison in the late 1990s. Fleiss told The Sun that Sizemore said, "I don't want to do drugs anymore," and that he'd taken steps to improve his health and was taking methadone to help alleviate an opiate addiction. "It's really heartbreaking because in one of his last texts to me just a few days before he had the aneurysm he said, 'At least we're alive right now.'"

Cameron Boyce

In a career that would tragically end after just over a decade, Cameron Boyce established himself in two highly visible pop culture machines. Boyce appeared opposite Adam Sandler in two blockbuster "Grown Ups" movies and was also part of the Disney Channel's troupe of young actors. He voiced the title role on "Captain Jake and the Never Land Pirates" and played Luke Ross on the sitcom "Jessie" while also co-starring in three very popular "Descendants" movies as Carlos De Vil, son of Disney villain Cruella De Vil.

On the evening of July 5, 2019, Boyce enjoyed dinner with his parents, then went home. For a few hours, and into the night, Boyce exchanged messages with his father about NBA basketball. "We were texting that night. We were texting about the Lakers. We were texting back and forth up until 12:30," Victor Boyce told "Good Morning America." Some time after the final message went through, Boyce fell asleep and didn't wake up the next morning. "He passed away in his sleep due to a seizure which was a result of an ongoing medical condition for which he was being treated," Boyce's family said in a statement to ABC News. "The world is now undoubtedly without one of its brightest lights." The actor, one of many once famous child actors who passed away, was 20 years old.

Matthew Perry

A minor teen star in the 1980s — he had a recurring role as a teenager with an ultimately tragic drinking problem on "Growing Pains" and starred in one of Fox's first shows, "Boys Will Be Boys" — Matthew Perry became a superstar in 1994. That's when he began playing the clownish and sarcastic Chandler Bing on "Friends." A 10-year, Emmy-nominated run on that '90s-defining sitcom launched Perry into the upper echelon of television actors, and he'd headline "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," "Go On," "Mr. Sunshine," and a remake of "The Odd Couple."

On the afternoon of October 28, 2023, medical authorities responded to a call at Perry's home and discovered the actor in his hot tub, apparently having drowned — one of many tragic things to happen to the cast of "Friends." According to an autopsy, the 54-year-old actor, who had a long and difficult history with substance abuse, had slipped into the water and lost consciousness from the effects of excessive ketamine in his system, a drug which he was otherwise taking in controlled, therapeutic doses.

One of the last people with whom Perry communicated on the day he died was Jennifer Aniston, his friend and "Friends" co-star. "He was happy. He was healthy. He had quit smoking. He was getting in shape," Aniston recalled to Variety. "I was literally texting with him that morning, funny Matty. He was not in pain. He wasn't struggling. He was happy."

Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis merits a mention as one of the best stand-up comedians of all time. He regularly appeared at comedy clubs across the country in the 1970s and '80s as well as on the many stand-up showcases that populated network and cable TV at the time. Lewis won over fans by making himself the butt of the joke, delivering meandering rants that touched on his many insecurities, anxieties, and relationship foibles. In the 2000s, he often appeared as a heightened version of himself with his friend Larry David on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," a show that once helped save a wrongfully accused killer from prison.

At the height of his stand-up success in 1989, Lewis took a starring role on the ABC sitcom "Anything But Love." He remained friendly with his co-star, Jamie Lee Curtis, for decades after their show's cancelation in 1992. Lewis and Curtis texted each other often, and conversed over their phones shortly before Lewis died. "Richard's last text to me, was hoping that I could convince ABC/Disney to put out another boxed set of episodes of the show," Curtis wrote on Instagram alongside a selection of "Anything But Love" publicity photos. "He also is the reason I am sober. He helped me. I am forever grateful for him for that act of grace alone." Less than a year after announcing his Parkinson's disease diagnosis, Lewis died in February 2024 at age 76.

Bob Saget

Active in the thriving 1980s Los Angeles stand-up comedy scene, Bob Saget took a major pivot when he won the role of sweet and corny single dad Danny Tanner on "Full House." Concurrently with that squeaky-clean sitcom's eight-year run, Saget hosted and provided voiceover for "America's Funniest Home Videos." In the 2000s, while serving as the uncredited narrator on "How I Met Your Mother," Saget focused on his stand-up act, which was much more provocative and adult-oriented than "Full House" fans may have expected.

Saget's "I Don't Do Negative" comedy tour hit Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on January 8, 2022. After the show, he retired to his room at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando in nearby Grand Lakes. The next day, after Saget didn't make his check-out and didn't answer calls from family, the hotel sent a security guard to the 65-year-old comedian's room, where he was found deceased in his bed. Investigators determined that Saget died of a traumatic injury to his head. Likely striking the rear of his head on an object and assuming he was fine, he went to sleep and died some time in the night.

On January 9, 2022, hours after her father's death, Aubrey Saget posted on her Instagram Story feed a screencap of the final message that her father had texted her. "Thank u. Love u," he wrote (via US Weekly), just before what would be his final performance. "Showtime!"

Naya Rivera

Naya Rivera was just 4 years old when she landed her first screen acting role: Hillary Winston on the 1991 sitcom "The Royal Family," opposite comedian Redd Foxx, who died after suffering a heart attack on set. After many more small roles on TV comedies, including a recurring part as Donna on "The Bernie Mac Show," Rivera found her signature role: cruel, lovelorn cheerleader Santana Lopez on the 2009-2015 musical-dramedy "Glee."

On July 8, 2020, Rivera took her 4-year-old son out for a boat ride on Ventura County, California's Lake Piru. Three hours after their departure, the child was spotted in the boat, asleep and by himself. That prompted a massive and coordinated search effort to locate Rivera, whose remains were discovered in large part due to information revealed in what would be the last text message she dispatched. "There was a picture sent to a family member that showed the boy on the boat by a cove," Ventura County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Team official Robert Inglis told Us Weekly. "We found where that cove was." Rivera's body was located near that site. The actor was 33.

Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman broke out playing real people, like Jackie Robinson in "42" and James Brown in "Get On Up," then moved on to Marvel. He portrayed T'Challa, king of the real-life inspired Wakanda in "Black Panther," the most acclaimed MCU entry ever.

On August 28, 2020, Boseman's account on X, formerly known as Twitter, broke two devastating news items: that Boseman had been diagnosed with stage III colon cancer four years earlier, and that the disease had led to the death of the actor at age 43. Before he passed, Boseman sent a text to "Black Panther" producer Nate Moore. They'd arranged for Boseman to fulfill a request to a child participating in the Make-a-Wish program, despite the actor's declining health and COVID-19 protocols. "It was during lockdown, and we worked together to get a young boy a voice note from T'Challa, as well as a package of toys — no easy feat when we weren't allowed to leave our homes," Moore told People. "But Chad figured out how to make it work." In his final days, Boseman sent Moore a text reflecting on the situation. "It broke me, man," the message read, per Moore. "But we need to do that for them. People deserve abundant life, special moments. They've been through hell battling disease. If we were able to ease their suffering and bring joy for a moment, and hopefully moments [as] he goes through the bags, then we made a difference in his life."

David Bowie

One of history's most prolific, popular, and experimental rock stars, David Bowie was consistently famous from the 1960s through the 2010s. Forever attempting new musical styles and taking on new, all-encompassing personas, Bowie did folk on "Space Oddity," glam (while pretending to be an alien) on "Ziggy Stardust," sophisticated pop on "Let's Dance," and industrial on "I'm Afraid of Americans." He was also an actor, appearing in well-received movies like "Labyrinth" and "The Prestige."

On his 69th birthday, January 8, 2016, Bowie released the album "Blackstar." Two days later, he was gone. "David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer," a January 2016 post on the musician's Facebook page stated, announcing Bowie's death at age 69 from a disease the general public didn't know he'd had.

Weeks later, a romantic partner of the rock star from the 1970s announced that the two had been collaborating on new songs. "We had this very strange writing relationship. He was writing music and I was writing lyrics," singer Claudia Lennear told The Daily Mail. They'd reconnected in 2014 as friends and collaborators, with Bowie urging Lennear to give the recording industry another try; she stopped making music after the commercial failure of an album in 1973. Bowie's bandmates had a lot to say about him, but one of the last things Bowie said to anyone was a text to Lennear. According to her, it read: "Send me some lyrics. Don't forget."

Dame Barbara Windsor

Dame Barbara Windsor was a fixture on screens big and small in the U.K. for more than half a century. She was among the troupe of actors who played various roles in the "Carry On" film franchise, appearing in nine installments between 1964 and 1974. She then portrayed Peggy Mitchell on the mostly daily BBC soap "EastEnders" from 1994 to 2016, but is probably most familiar to Americans as the voice of Mallymkun the dormouse in Tim Burton's live-action "Alice in Wonderland" and its sequel. 

At the age of 83, Windsor died on December 10, 2020, at a long-term health care facility in London from complications of Alzheimer's disease. Actor Shane Richie joined "EastEnders" in 2002, where he and Windsor began their long friendship. He coined Windsor's nickname "The Duchess," which "EastEnders" writers incorporated into the show as a pet name for her character. In 2020, Richie was set to participate in the British reality series "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!" Just before producers confiscated contestants' phones, and just before Windsor died, Richie received a text from the actor's husband, Scott. "The Duchess sends her love," Richie recalled of the message, on BBC's "The One Show." "Just be yourself."

Kristoff St. John

While he guest-starred on dozens of TV sitcoms through the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, Kristoff St. John is best known for his work in daytime dramas. An absolute superstar of the soap opera, St. John starred on "Generations" from 1989 to 1991 and then quickly shifted to "The Young and the Restless." St. John portrayed Neil Winters for more than 1,900 episodes across 28 years, winning two Daytime Emmy Awards along the way.

St. John was discovered dead at his Los Angeles home in February 2019. An autopsy determined that the 52-year-old actor died from hypertrophic heart disease.

"Criminal Minds" star Shemar Moore credits St. John with giving him his big break, having recommended him to play his character's brother on "The Young and the Restless" in 1994. In April 2019, Moore sent a video to CBS's "The Talk" mourning St. John and reading one of the final texts he received from the deceased soap star he considered a close friend and a "mentor." "Bro, on the real, I look up to you. What you have accomplished. You were a squeaky clean little boy with stars in your eyes. Now you are the center of an entire solar system. You survived against all odds," Moore read. "You are exemplary far beyond any Black star that has graced TV in the last 50 years, except Denzel on 'St. Elsewhere.' And even he wasn't the actor who exudes sex and charisma like you. Keep pressing. Keep grinding."

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