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Jan 31

Movie trivia – actors who died during filming

Tag: Entertainmentwendy @ 2:43 am

Are you a movie trivia buff…? one thing fascinating about film trivia is to note how many films were completed after the starring actor/actress had died. How does the director get around such an inconvenience? in the past it was just a process of replacing the deceased actor with a double and filming them from the back, or they just suddenly disappeared from the film.  Here’s a few films where this actually happened…

* Saratoga, 1936 - Actress Jean Harlow (left) died aged 26 just a few weeks before completing her final scenes. A double was used in her place and you notice towards the end of the film that her character’s face is never shown and does not speak any lines. The final closing scene, in which she appears, was originally intended as a scene for earlier in the film however after she died it was re-edited,  which is why the movie feels ‘unfinished’ at the end.

* Solomon and Sheba, 1958 - Tyrone Power had filmed about 75 percent of his scenes when he was stricken with a massive heart attack as he was filming a duelling scene with his co-star George Sanders. He died en route to hospital. He was replaced by Yul Brynner in the role. Powers’ close-ups in the film were re-shot with Brynner but the long shots featuring Power were kept in the film; you can still spot Power in the long shots and even in a couple during the fatal duelling scene. The actual footage of his death-duel was featured in a TV series ‘That’s Hollywood’ narrated by Tom Bosley.

* Plan 9 from Outer Space, 1956 – a classic this one. Bela Lugosi (pictured) died of a heart attack during production of Ed Wood’s cult film. It features footage of Lugosi interspersed with a double. Wood had taken a few minutes of silent footage of Lugosi in his Dracula cape and hired his wife’s chiropractor to double for Lugosi in additional shots. The double is noticeably thinner than Lugosi, and in every shot covers the lower half of his face with his cape. You can really spot the difference during his walk through the graveyard scene.

* Giant, 1955 - Actor James Dean had completed his scenes with just some dubbing work required when he was killed in a high speed road crash. He appears in the final scenes in the film however his voice was dubbed by his friend, actor Nick Adams; it is Nick’s voice you hear in Dean’s ‘drunken’ final scenes.

* The Misfits, 1960Clark Gable died of a heart attack just days after filming strenuous scenes in this western flick, refusing to allow a stunt double to do the work. He had completed the film but a couple of scenes were re-shot with a double.

* Canadian Bacon, 1995 - John Candy died from a heart attack during filming. A double was used in some scenes to complete but the film was a flop at the box office.

* Twilight Zone, the Movie, 1983 - Actor Vic Morrow was killed along with 2 children during the filming of an action scene. A production helicopter hovering above them crashed down into the actor and the two children. His episode in the film was included in the release but was edited to change the ending.

Actors injured during filming…

* Raintree County, 1957 - Handsome Montgomery Clift ( pictured ‘before’ and ‘after’ his accident) was mid-film when he was horrifically injured in a car smash after leaving a party at Elizabeth Taylor’s house one night. His facial injuries were severe and production was halted for several months while he recovered. Despite extensive surgery, his beautiful face never looked the same afterwards. He eventually completed the film but if you watch you can easily spot the ‘before the crash‘ and ‘after the crash’ Monty in his scenes.

* I, Claudious, 1937 - Actress Merle Oberon (below left) suffered facial injuries in a car crash during filming; the project was abandoned and never released even though the film was well into production. Despite her claims, she was not born in Tasmania but was born in India to an Indian mother and a British father.

Merle Oberon pictured with Charles Laughton, her co-star in the ill-fated ‘I, Claudius’.

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6 Responses to “Movie trivia – actors who died during filming”

  1. j says:

    what about Bruce Lee’s son?

  2. Wendy says:

    Yep, fair enough – I will include Brandon Lee. Trouble is the list could go on and on – glad I did it though, it’s a popular article.

  3. pete inorio says:

    didn’t rawhide’s eric fleming drown in a kayaking accident while filming a movie in the amazon region?

  4. Wendy says:

    Yes pete, you are correct. Eric Fleming drowned during the filming of High Jungle in Peru, it was to be his final film as he intended to retire from acting and become a teacher. Very sad. RIP Eric.

  5. MovieViewer-Man says:

    John Candy died during the filming of Wagons East! not Canadian Bacon.

  6. wendy says:

    Yes, I stand corrected. Canadian Bacon was his last ‘completed’ film, he never completed Wagons East. Thanks for noticing:)

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