Famous Celebrities Who Died In Their 60s

The average life expectancy for Americans is 77 years old, so it hits particularly hard when a family member, close friend, or beloved celebrity passes away in their 60s. That's because, had circumstance been different, they could have potentially had much more time — years, in fact, to spend with their loved ones and to entertain their fans. The celebrities on this list died of an assortment of calamities, from cancer and heart disease to tragic accidents. Some were still actively working in their chosen fields when they passed away, while a few had stepped away from the spotlight for one reason or another.

Either way, these stars were gone too soon. These singers, actors, and entertainers made their mark in show business, and they won't be forgotten any time soon (even those who died decades ago). Their legacy lives on through their movies and music. Check out some stars who died in their 60s.

Carrie Fisher

Actress Carrie Fisher cemented herself in cinema history by playing Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" films. She also happened to be the daughter of two equally talented showbiz parents, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. Carrie was just 19 years old when she landed the role of Luke Skywalker's sister in the iconic sci-fi franchise in 1977 and went on to star in a slew of other films, including "The Blues Brothers,"" Hannah and Her Sisters," and "When Harry Met Sally," according to People. She was married briefly to singer Paul Simon and over the years struggled with depression as well as drug abuse, which she was very open about with her fans.

In 1992, Carrie gave birth to her only child, daughter Billie Lourd, whose father was talent agent Bryan Lourd. Fisher died of a heart attack at the age of 60 in December 2016. The actress was traveling from London, England, to Los Angeles on December 23 when she experienced the health emergeny on the airplane. She was taken to a hospital where she later passed away.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

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).

Sonny Bono

Sonny Bono is perhaps best remembered for his role in the singing duo Sonny and Cher. But prior to connecting with the vibrant young star, he was a singer and songwriter of his own accord. He collaborated with Phil Spector and was a back-up singer for the Righteous Brothers, according to History. Then, he paired up with a teenager named Cherilyn Sarkasian, aka Cher, who would help catapult his career. The twosome fell and love and became famous for songs such as "I Got You Babe" and the variety show "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour," which launched in 1971. They wed and had a child but eventually got divorced amid rumors of infidelity.

Not unlike a handful of other celebrities, including Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bono turned to politics and became the mayor of Palm Springs, California, in 1988. Six years later, he earned a seat in the House of Representatives. In 1998, he died while skiing in South Lake Tahoe, California, at the age of 62. According to police reports, he was skiing solo, hit a tree, and died due to head trauma. He was survived by his fourth wife, Mary Bono, and their two children as well as his son Chaz (formerly Chastity) with Cher and a daughter he had with his first wife.

Farrah Fawcett

Farrah Fawcett was a pinup who initially made her mark as one of Charlie's Angels and whose famous poster adorned the bedroom walls of many young men after the TV show's debut in 1976, according to EW. She continued to act throughout the '80s and '90s, appearing in an off-Broadway production and earning an Emmy nomination for her role in the made-for-TV movie "The Burning Bed." In the meantime, Fawcett married and divorced actor Lee Majors and had a son with the man would become her longtime partner, Ryan O'Neal.

Fawcett appeared in Playboy, starred in films such as "The Apostle" and "Dr. T and the Women," and she starred in her own reality series, "Chasing Farrah," one year before being diagnosed with anal cancer. She was cleared of the disease, but it came back in 2007. She died in 2019 at the age of 62 as a result of the disease. Before she passed away, Fawcett opened up about her struggle in a documentary for NBC. A large part of the film covered her romance with O'Neal, who finally proposed to Fawcett after almost 25 years together. Unfortuately, she died before they were able to tie the knot.

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn earned an Academy Award after starring in her first major film, 1953's "Roman Holiday," alongside Gregory Peck. Moviegoers were charmed by the beautiful star's screen presence, and her marketability also translated to the theater. She won a Tony Award that same year for the play "Ondine." Hepburn went on to star alongside William Holden and Humphrey Bogart in "Sabrina" the following year and alongside Fred Astaire in 1957's "Funny Face." In summing up her career, The New York Times has described her as elegant and gamine "with an aristocratic bearing."

One of Hepburn's most iconic roles was as Holly Golightly in the 1961 movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's." She also starred in "Love in the Afternoon," "Charade," and "My Fair Lady." She lightened her acting load in 1967 and only appeared in the occasional film in the '70s and' 80s, instead spending the majority of her time in Switzerland after semi-retiring from acting. In 1988, she became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and traveled frequently to Africa and Latin America. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in the early '90s and died from the disease at the age of 63 on January 20, 1993.

Robin Williams

Robin William's death in 2014 at the age of 63 was a shock to his fans. The actor-slash-comedian, who entertained millions with films such as "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Good Morning Vietnam," and "Aladdin," also starred in "Dead Poets Society," "Jumanji," and "Night at the Museum." Before taking home an Oscar for his role in "Goodwill Hunting," Williams also captivated audiences as an alien in the 1970s TV series "Mork & Mindy." Off screen, he entertained fans with his stand-up routines. Because he portrayed such a fun-loving character in so many projects, people were not prepared to hear that the cause of death was suicide.

The star had struggled with depression and Parkinson's disease in the years leading up to his death, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Marin County officials in California revealed he died from asphyxia and hanging. While Williams had been battling depression for quite some time, those close to him insisted he never talked about taking his own life. Investigators were also unable to find information that indicated he was suicidal in the days leading up to his death. Explicit details surrounding his suicide were released to the public as required under the state's Public Records Act, which some members of the public found offensive.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Sammy Davis Jr.

Sammy Davis, Jr., embodied it all: he sang, danced, acted, and performed comedy routines, a skillset that wasn't unheard of back in the day when vaudeville and variety acts were all the rage. He came from a showbiz family and made his film debut in a musical short at the age of 7, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. He was meant for great things, although he may not have realized it at such a young age. As a teenager, he befriended big band leader Tommy Dorsey as well as Frank Sinatra, who would become instrumental in his success later on.

Davis, Jr.'s loved ones shielded him from racism and discrimination, but his world was turned upside down when he was drafted into the United States Army at the age of 18, and he was treated unkindly by some of his fellow recruits due to his skin color. Fortunately, his talent led to his transfer to an entertainment regiment. After he was discharged, he released several hit singles and eventually became a member of the infamous Rat Pack, which also included Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford. In the '70s, he battled substance abuse and had a heart attack. He recovered, though, and continued to release music until 1989 when doctors found a cancerous tumor in his throat. It was treated with radiation, but a bigger oral tumor was found the following year, and it was inoperable. Davis, Jr., died at the age of 64 on May 16, 1990.

Eddie Van Halen

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen and his brother Alex, a drummer, formed Van Halen in 1974. After recruiting David Lee Roth as their singer, the band found their groove and impressed Kiss guitarist Gene Simmons enough that he produced their initial recording session in 1977, according to Biography. The band took the LA music scene by storm and rocketed to stardom with the release of their LP "1984," which included hits such as "Jump," "Hot for Teacher," and "Panama." That said, the group had its ups and downs. Roth eventually left and was replaced by frontman Sammy Hagar, and Eddie struggled with alcohol problems.

Eventually, Eddie sobered up, and the band managed to hang in there even after Hagar moved on. Roth came back, and the group released the LP "A Different Kind of Truth" in 2012 before embarking on a tour in 2015. Two years later, Eddie was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Despite being told he had just six months to live, he hung on for another three years after treatment in Germany. Eddie passed away on October 6, 2020, at the age of 65, according to NME. His cause of death was a stroke with underlying issues such as lung cancer, pneumonia, and a bone marrow disorder. He also had an irregular heart rate and skin cancer.

Tom Petty

Tom Petty both helmed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and was a popular solo artist. He formed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 1976 and became a member of the Traveling Wilburys before releasing his first solo album in 1989. He is known for songs such as "Free Fallin'," "Runnin' Down a Dream," "American Girl," "Refugee," "Don't Come Around Here No More," and "Learning to Fly." Petty earned three Grammy Awards over the course of his career and collaborated with a string of equally talented musicians, including Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and Johnny Cash, according to Biography.

In 1996, Petty divorced his wife of 22 years and struggled with substance abuse, which he kicked a few years later, and in 2002, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Petty continued to perform with the group and in solo projects leading up to his death in 2017. He died at the age of 66 from of an accidental drug overdose, according to NPR. His system was full of a variety of drugs prescribed for several health issues, such as a fractured hip. He also had knee problems and emphysema. Prior to his death, Petty had just completed a summer tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth was one of Hollywood's silver screen stars. She began dancing professionally at the age of 12 and moved to Los Angeles with her family as a young girl. She was discovered at age 16 and signed a contract with Fox Film Company under the name Rita Cansino (her full name was Margarita Carmen Cansino), according to the New York Times. She starred in her first film in 1935, but her career didn't really take off until she married a businessman 22 years her senior; he encouraged her to change her name to Rita Hayworth and landed her a contract with Columbia Pictures. Audiences really started taking notice of her in the early 1940s.

She starred alongside James Cagney in ”Strawberry Blonde" and with Fred Astaire in ”You'll Never Get Rich." She turned into a pinup girl in 1944 after Life magazine published a sexy shot of the actress wearing a black lace ensemble. Hayworth married and divorced movie maker Orson Welles before tying the knot with Prince Aly Khan; she proceeded to marry and divorce two more times. Overall, the actress starred in more than 40 films. Unfortunately, later in life she struggled to remember the lines to her projects and was diagnosed as an alcoholic. The problem, in fact, may not have been drinking but rather Alzheimer's disease, which was the cause of her death in May 1987. She was 68 years old.

David Bowie

David Bowie, known for the 1969 song "Space Oddity," his Ziggy Stardust alter ego, and a string of hits, including "Fame," died at the age of 69 on January 10, 2016 (via Biography). He passed away two days after his birthday, shocking fans who were unaware he had been battling terminal cancer for several months. The singer had just released his 25th studio album, "Blackstar," according to The Guardian. Johan Renck, who directed the video for the album's first single, "Lazarus," said, "I found out later that, the week we were shooting, it was when he was told it was over, they were ending treatments and that his illness had won." 

Only those closest to the singer were aware that he was dying of cancer. Despite the diagnosis, Bowie kept on working and spent large portions of his days focused on his music. Even though he was undergoing treatments for the disease, he was still able to complete the album. The singer was also known for hits such as "Modern Love," "China Girl," and "Let's Dance." 

Alan Rickman

English actor Alan Rickman, who played characters such as Hans Gruber in the first "Die Hard" film and Professor Snape in the "Harry Potter" films, died in 2016 from cancer at the age of 69, according to The Guardian. The star was well respected in the industry, and "Harry Potter" co-star Daniel Radcliffe said after his passing that Rickman was one of the greatest actors he'd ever worked with and "one of the loyalest and most supportive people I've ever met in the film industry." Rickman was also known for playing the Sheriff of Nottingham in 1991's "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and Rasputin in a 1995 HBO film.

While he had a talent for playing villainous characters, he also dabbled with his softer side in movies such as "Sense and Sensibility" and "Love, Actually." Rickman also directed a handful of films, including Scottish drama "The Winter Guest" and the period piece "A Little Chaos". As a young actor, he was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and returned to theater work at various times throughout his career. Still, he enjoyed taking on comedic roles as well, voicing a part in the animated show "King of the Hill" and playing a Spock-inspired character in "Galaxy Quest." The multi-faceted star never won an Academy Award, but he didn't appear to be troubled by the snub, once commenting, "Parts win prizes, not actors." 

Gary Cooper

One of early cinema's most famous stars was Gary Cooper, known for playing all-American roles. Cooper, who often portrayed strong, manly characters, had a penchant for hooking up with his co-stars, such as silent film superstar Clara Bow and Patricia Neal, with the latter romance allegedly occurring while he was married. The Montana native, whose parents were English, got his start making silent films and continued to act through the early 1960s until his death at the age of 60, according to Biography

He kicked off his career with the 1926 western "The Winning of Barbara Worth" and impressed audiences with 1929's "The Virginian." He was nominated for an Academy Award for 1936 film "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" before winning the coveted statue for 1941's "Sergeant York," in which he portrayed a World War I soldier. He also received Oscar nominations for 1942's "The Pride of the Yankees" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls." However, the role Cooper is likely most known for is Will Kane in the 1952 film "High Noon," and he won his second Academy Award for the work. Cooper passed away of cancer on May 13, 1961.