Here’s How Old These 50 Celebrity Icons Would Be If They Were Alive Today

A brief glimpse of an alternate universe.

Here’s How Old These 50 Celebrity Icons Would Be If They Were Alive Today

A brief glimpse of an alternate universe.


Today, when we look back on the lives of iconic celebrities who tragically passed away all too young, it’s easy to lose sight of exactly how young they actually were at the times of their deaths. As the world remembers Princess Diana’s untimely passing, for instance, it’s all the more tragic to be reminded that she died at the youthful age of 36. (For perspective, know that pop stars Beyoncé and Britney Spears both turn 36 this year. The reigning Wimbledon champion, Roger Federer, is also 36.)

In 2017, the actor Heath Ledger wouldn’t yet be 40, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin wouldn’t yet be 75, and civil rights legend Martin Luther King, Jr. would be in his 80s. And that’s just a sampling. Read on for a quick trip through an alternate universe in which our most timeless icons were still with us. And for more time-travel coverage, here are 20 Present-Day Facts No One Could Have Predicted Five Years Ago.

princess diana celebrity deaths

Princess Diana, 56

After her tragic death in car crash, in 1997, Princess Diana of Wales‘s televised funeral was viewed by nearly 2 billion people worldwide.

Photo by Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

James Dean celebrity deaths

James Dean, 86

The actor and style icon passed away in a car accident in 1955.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

elvis presley celebrity deaths

Elvis, 82

Elvis Presley tragically passed away at his home in Memphis in 1977.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

anna nicole smith celebrity deaths

Anna Nicole Smith, 49

The model, actress, and reality-TV star passed away from a drug overdose in 2007.

kurt cobain celebrity deaths

Kurt Cobain, 50

The Nirvana frontman committed suicide in his Seattle home in 1994.

Freddie mercury celebrity deaths

Freddie Mercury, 70

The Queen frontman—arguably the greatest rock frontman of all time—died in 1991.

Photo by Steve Wood/Express/Getty Images

Martin Luther King, celebrity deaths

Martin Luther King, Jr., 88

The Civil Rights legend was assassinated in 1968.

Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images

heath ledger celebrity deaths

Heath Ledger, 38

Australian actor Heath Ledger tragically passed away in 2008, just a few months after wrapping on his iconic role as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

paul walker celebrity deaths

Paul Walker, 43

Paul Walker passed away in a car crash during production of Furious 7 , in 2013.

jimi hendrix celebrity deaths

Jimi Hendrix, 74

In 2015, 45 years after his death, Jimi Hendrix—another member of the “27 Club” (famous musicians who all died at the age of 27, including Kurt Cobain)—was dubbed the “greatest guitarist of all time” by Rolling Stone.

Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images

chris farley celebrity deaths

Chris Farley, 53

The iconic comedian died of a drug overdose in 1997.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

anton yelchin celebrity deaths

Anton Yelchin, 28

Anton Yelchin, best known for playing Chekov in the Star Trek reboots, tragically died last year during a freak accident involving his Jeep Grand Cherokee.

sid viscious celebrity deaths

Sid Vicious, 60

Despite having died at 21, in 1979, Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious remains one of the most indelible punk figures.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

keith moon celebrity deaths

Keith Moon, 70

Keith Moon, known for his stellar drumming for The Who, also gained fame for smashing his kits on stage during performances. He passed away in 1978.

Photo by Jack Kay/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

john bonham celebrity deaths

John Bonham, 69

Rather than replace drummer John Bonham after his death in 1980, Led Zeppelin decided to disband.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

John Lennon

John Lennon, 76

After his assassination in 1980, John Lennon‘s wife and collaborator Yoko Ono declared that there would be no funeral for the exalted musician. Instead, his ashes were scattered in Central Park.

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

janis joplin celebrity deaths

Janis Joplin, 74

Janis Joplin passed away just 16 days after fellow 27 Club member Jimi Hendrix.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

edie sedgwick celebrity deaths

Edie Sedgwick, 74

A stalwart of Andy Warhol‘s Factory, Edie Sedgwick came to be known as one of—if not the—first embodiments of an “It Girl.” She tragically passed away at the age of 28 from a barbiturate overdose.

tupac celebrity deaths

Tupac Shakur, 46

The 1996 murder of rapper Tupac Shakur has, to this day, still gone unsolved.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The_Notorious_B.I.G celebrity deaths

Biggie Smalls, 45

Like the death of Tupac, the 1997 murder of Bigger Smalls remains unsolved.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Bob marley celebrity deaths

Bob Marley, 72

The face of reggae passed away at 36 due to complications from melanoma.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

jim morrison celebrity deaths

Jim Morrison, 73

No autopsy was ever performed on Jim Morrison (another member of the 27 Club), in 1971; as such, the cause of his death is unknown to this day.

amy winehouse celebrity deaths

Amy Winehouse, 33

The beloved British singer died of alcohol poisoning in 2011.

marilyn monroe celebrity deaths

Marilyn Monroe, 91

Though her 1962 death was ruled a suicide, conspiracy theories abound that Marilyn Monroe was the victim of a murder plot. These theories were debunked by the L.A. County District Attorney’s office.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

river phoenix celebrity deaths

River Phoenix, 46

River Phoenix, whose cause of death was drug use, was regarded as one of the most fiercely talented actors of his generation.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

buddy holly celebrity deaths

Buddy Holly, 80

The singer from Texas died in a plane crash in 1959 at the age of 22. Yes, it was the “the day the music died.”

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

john belushi celebrity deaths

John Belushi, 68

In 2015, 33 years after his drug-related death in 1982, Rolling Stone ranked John Belushi as the greatest Saturday Night Live cast member of all time.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

aaliyah celebrity deaths

Aaliyah, 38

The “Queen of R&B” tragically passed away in 2001 during a plane crash after filming the music video for “Rock the Boat.”

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

brittany murphy celebrity deaths

Brittany Murphy, 39

The Clueless actress died of pneumonia in 2009. Six months later, her widower passed away of the same illness.

steve irwin celebrity deaths

Steve Irwin, 55

Zoologist and wildlife documentarian Steve Irwin died of a stingray sting while collecting footage off the coast of Queensland, Australia.

Steve McQueen, 87

Men’s style icon Steve McQueen defied death at every turn, until a bout of mesothelioma—a cancer for which there is no known cure—took his life in 1980.

Marvin Gaye celebrity deaths

Marvin Gaye, 78

The Motown and R&B legend died of a gunshot wound in 1984.

Photo by John Minihan/Evening Standard/Getty Images

cory monteith celebrity deaths

Cory Monteith, 35

The beloved Glee star died of drug overdose in 2013.

bruce lee celebrity deaths

Bruce Lee, 76

Bruce Lee passed away due to an allergic reaction to a prescribed painkiller.

He was Hollywood’s greatest martial artist, so it’s no surprise that he’s featured prominently on our list of the 20 greatest fight scenes of all time.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Brandon_Lee celebrity deaths

Brandon Lee, 52

Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon Lee, died on-set while filming The Crow, when a defective blank in a prop gun accidentally discharged with the force of a live bullet.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

lynyrd skynyrd celebrity deaths

Ronnie Van Zant, 69; Cassie Gaines, 69; Steve Gaines, 68

Three members of Lynyrd Skynard—vocalists Ronnie Van Zant and Cassie Gaines, and guitarist Steve Gaines—died in a plane crash in 1977, prompting a several-year hiatus for the band.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

randy rhoads celebrity deaths

Randy Rhoads, 60

Ozzy Osbourne‘s first guitarist, Randy Rhoads, passed away during a plane crash in 1982.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Stevie Ray Vaughan, 62

Blues rock legend Stevie Ray Vaughan (center) died in a 1990 helicopter accident.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Sharon Tate celebrity deaths

Sharon Tate, 74

The 1969 murder of Sharon Tate sparked a wave of fear among the Hollywood elite: At her funeral, in fact, Steve McQueen allegedly packed a gun for protection.

Photo by Keystone/Getty Images

philip seymour hoffman celebrity deaths

Philip Seymour Hoffman, 50

Philip Seymour Hoffman, described by The New York Times as “perhaps the most ambitious and widely admired American actor of his generation,” in an obituary, was found dead in his bathroom in 2014.

Mitch_Hedberg celebrity deaths

Mitch Hedberg, 49

The widely beloved comedian died of a drug overdose in 2005.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

michael jackson celebrity deaths

Michael Jackson, 58

Web chatter concerning the 2009 death of the King of Pop—the one and only Michael Jackson—was so voluminous that Google, Twitter, AOL, and Wikipedia all went down at some point in the 24 hours following his death.

For more Internet trivia, here are 15 facts you didn’t know about Google.

Otis Redding, 75

Otis Redding, the King of Soul, passed away at 26 during a plane crash en route to his next scheduled performance.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

robin williams celebrity deaths

Robin Williams, 66

After Robin Williams died in 2014, a tunnel on Highway 101, due north of San Francisco, was named after him.

whitney houston celebrity deaths

Whitney Houston, 54

Whitney Houston, the “most awarded female act of all time,” according to the 2009 Guinness Book of World Records, was found unresponsive in her bathtub in 2012.

bernie mac celebrity deaths

Bernie Mac, 59

The comedy great tragically died of a cardiac arrest caused by a disease called sarcoidosis in 2008.

john f kennery jr celebrity deaths

John F. Kennedy, Jr., 56

John F. Kennedy, Jr., the publisher of George magazine and heir to political royalty, died in a fatal plane crash off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, in 1999.

Photo by Manna Ceneta/AFP/Getty Images

Andy Kaufman, 68

Rumors persisted for years that Andy Kaufman faked his own death in 1984. In 2013, the L.A. County Coroner’s office put those rumors to bed by re-releasing Kaufman’s death certificate.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Sylvia Plath, 84

Esteemed wordsmith Sylvia Plath created her voluminous body of work before the age of 30; she took her life then, in 1963.

anne frank celebrity deaths

Anne Frank, 88

After 2 years hiding from Nazi forces, Anne Frank tragically passed away from typhus in a German concentration camp, in 1945. The diaries she kept while on the run provide an essential window into what life under Nazi rule was like.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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