16 Child Stars That Tragically Died Before Their Time

1. J. Madison Wright Morris.

The young actress from The Burning Zone and Safety Patrol struggled with health her whole childhood. She fought through multiple bouts of pneumonia, was diagnosed with Restricted Cardiomyopathy and had a heart transplant at 15 which only allowed her to reach the age of 21 before she suffered a heart attack and died one day after returning from her honeymoon.


2. Brad Renfro.

You might remember Renfro from his breakout role in The Client which led to his involvement with 21 other films in his short but illustrious career. He battled alcoholism and and a heroine addiction which ended up costing him his life at the young age of 25.


3. Bridgette Anderson.

This adorable child star was in Savannah Smiles, Family Ties, Fever Pitch and The Parent Trap II. However, she was another star that suffered addictions to alcohol and heroine, was estranged with her family and died following an overdose in 1997 at the age of 21.

4. Justin Pierce.

Pierce was a British actor that played Casper in the film Kids and starred alongside Ice Cube in Next Friday. He was found hanging in his hotel room by a security guard in 2000 at the age of 25.


5. Heather O’Rourke.

O’Rourke played Carol Anne in the iconic 1982 film Poltergeist. She was selected by Steven Spielberg himself for the part and spouts the now iconic line “they’re here”. Following the film she was diagnosed with Intestinal Stenosis in 1988 and died due to complications from an operation at the age of 12.


6. Rob Knox.

Knox landed a role in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. He was supposed to reprise the role in the final film however he was stabbed to death during a fight while trying to protect his younger brother when he was just 18.

7.  Ashleigh Aston Moore.

Moore started acting when she was four and her most notable role was in the film Now and Then. She retired from acting in 1997 but eventually went the way of many child stars and died of a heroine overdose in 2007.


8. Christopher Pettiet.

Pettiet was most famous for his role as Christina Applegate’s younger brother in Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. He died of an accidental drug overdose in 2000 at the age of 24.


9. Josh Ryan Evans.

Evans was in Baby Geniuses and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. He would often play characters much younger than himself because he was born with Achondroplasia which is a type of dwarfism. He was 17 at the time of his biggest role when he played a child in Passions. He died in 2002 during an operation for a congenital heart condition.

10. Judith Barsi.

Barsi was in The Land Before Time and All Dogs Go To Heaven. Unfortunately she was in an extremely abusive domestic environment and was eventually murdered along with her mother by her father in 1988. She was only 10-years-old.


11. Lee Thompson Young.

Young was an actor on the rise who had a lead role in Friday Night Lights but suffered from Bipolar disorder which led to him committing suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2013, aged 27.


12. River Phoenix.

Definitely one of the most famous child star deaths of all time, Phoenix was being touted as one of the next big actors in Hollywood, appearing in Stand By Me and Running on Empty. On Halloween night 1993, Phoenix suffered a drug overdose and died outside the Viper Room on The Sunset Strip in front of his brother Joaquin and sister Rain.

13. Michelle Thomas.

Thomas is best known as an actress on Family Matters and The Cosby Show. She died of stomach cancer in 1998 at age 29.


14. Matthew Garber.

You might remember Garber from the classic Disney film Mary Poppins. He also featured in two more Disney movies before retiring. At 21 he died due to complications of Pancreatitis in 1977.


15. Jonathan Brandis.

Jonathan Brandis was a model before landing the starring role in Steven Spielberg’s Seaquest DMV which also led to him working as a writer and producer. Unfortunately after a long struggle with depression Brandis hung himself at 27.