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Celebrities Who Died in Fires (Tragic)

A lot of people know of famous actors who met their untimely ends in horrific airplane crashes. Audie Murphy and Vic Morrow both perished in that manner. Then you have folks such as Dean Martin and Jayne Mansfield, who passed away after getting into car accidents. But how many actors can you name that died in fires?

The majority of the time, it’s not even the fire itself that brings about a victim’s death. It’s the smoke. Inhaling smoke for even just a few minutes can have disastrous effects on the human body, and often when people are killed in a tragedy such as a house fire or vehicular fire, they lose consciousness long before the flames can consume them. This happens to be one of those little, seldom mentioned blessings in disguise. While dying in a fire is never something anyone in their right state of mind would ever hope to experience, the last thing you’d want to have to go through is being completely conscious when the flames envelop your body.

Make no mistake about it, we’re not here to be entertained by the misfortune of others. Dying in a fire has to be one of the worst ways to go, but it’s not particularly uncommon of a thing to happen to unfortunate souls.

Join Facts as we take a look at eight stars whom you probably didn’t know died in fires. And make sure you stick around for the whole video to learn about the death of Butterfly McQueen, AKA Prissy from Gone With The Wind, who was badly burned and died childless in 1995.

Linda Darnell

Born on October 16, 1923, Linda Darnell was an American actress best known for her roles in 1947s Forever Amber, 1948s Unfaithfully Yours, and A Letter to Three Wives, which hit theaters in 1949.

Darnell passed away on April 10, 1965, after sustaining burns in a house fire the day before in Glenview, Illinois. Darnell had been staying at the home of one of her former secretaries and her daughter and had just recently received the news from her agent that three film contracts were waiting for her to sign.

The actress found herself trapped on the second floor of the home when the heat and smoke from the blaze prevented her from descending the stairs to seek refuge from the inferno. The fire in question had apparently started in the home’s living room.

Darnell and her former secretary had pleaded with the daughter to jump from the second-floor window to save her life. After she had successfully made the jump, Darnell’s secretary and friend stood on the window ledge screaming for help. At this time, amid all of the chaos, she completely lost track of Darnell’s whereabouts, and when firefighters finally arrived at the scene, she insisted that they rescue Darnell before she was pulled to safety from the window ledge.

When firefighters eventually found Darnell, she was lying unconscious next to the living room sofa, which was completely aflame. She was then rushed to the burn unit over at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, where it was found that she had burns on more than 3/4 of her body.

Sadly, Darnell succumbed to her injuries the following day. A man who claimed to be her fiance then identified her body. According to the coroner’s report, Darnell’s death was ruled accidental, and it was further found that the fire had started in the living room because of a lit cigarette. Both Darnell and her secretary were heavy smokers.

Clifton Young

Clifton Young rose to fame as a child actor portraying the character Bonedust during Our Gang’s sound transition era. Of all the alumni of Our Gang, with the possible exceptions of Jackie Cooper and Dickie Moore, Clifton had the best chance of becoming a successful adult star. With his cleft chin, reminiscent of Kirk Douglas, Clifton was a prominent face who appeared in several hit postwar films, including 1947s Dark Passage. He was especially lauded by critics for his portrayal of the conniving blackmailer who gave refuge to an escaped convict played by Humphrey Bogart in 1947s celebrated hit film Pursued, which was directed by Raoul Walsh. That same year he also starred in the horror-thriller Possessed, and the following year he appeared in Blood on the Moon.

Young additionally made frequent appearances in Warner Brothers’ popular Joe McDoakes comedy short films and portrayed a villain in two Roy Rogers films. In 1951, Young hit a bit of a rough patch in his personal life and moved out of his home and into a hotel after filing for divorce from his wife. It was in this motel that he died while smoking in bed. Again people, smoking itself is bad for you, but if you’re going to do it anyway, at least use an ashtray, for crying out loud!

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Royce Applegate

This veteran of cinema and television, who was best known for co-starring in the series SeaQuest DSV as the character Chief Petty Officer Manilow Crocker, died on January 1, 2003, in a fire at his home in Hollywood Hils, California. He had just celebrated his 63rd birthday a week prior.

Applegate was born in Midwest City, Oklahoma, and aside from his role in SeaQuest DSV, he was also known for his portrayal of Deputy Crawford in the 1985 CBS sitcom Stir Crazy. That same year, he also made two appearances on Diff’rent Stokes, playing a family man-turned kidnapper named Donald Brown.

In 1993, Applegate appeared in the film Gettysburg, portraying Confederate General James L. Kemper. He reprised that role in the follow-up film Gods and Generals, which hit theaters in 2003. Applegate, whose career spanned 30 years, had also appeared in television shows such as Dallas, Little House on the Prairie, and Home Improvement.

Teresa Graves

This American actress and singer, who was born on January 10, 1948, was best known for her starring role on the ABC crime-drama series Get Christie Love, in which she played the show’s lead, Christie Love. Graves was also notable for being the second African-American woman to star in her own hour-long TV series, as well as for being the first black woman to star in a dramatic television series.

In the 1970s, Teresa Graves was one of, if not the most, popular Black actresses of the decade. She was a gorgeous woman whose name was frequently brought up in conversation by some of the most prolific female stars of the era.

In 1974, Graves was baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness, and almost immediately after joining the sect, she began using her fame and influence to bring attention to the persecution of members of her religion in Malawi.

In addition to her beauty and charm, Graves was also a talented singer. But after a while of being virtually on top of the world, she basically fell off the face of the earth largely due to her conversion to the Jehovah’s Witness faith and wasn’t heard of again until her death in 2002.

On October 10, 2002, Graves’s home in the Hyde Park neighborhood in LA caught fire due to a faulty space heater. She was found unconscious in her bedroom before she was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she later passed away. She was 54 years old at the time of her death.

Jack Cassidy

Born John Joseph Edward Cassidy on March 5, 1927, but better known by his stage name Jack, this American actor, singer and director was best known for his decades-spanning work in the worlds of theater, television, and film. Throughout his prolific career, he received multiple Tony Award nods as well as a win. He was also honored with a Grammy for his work on the Broadway musical production of She Loves Me in 1963.

In addition to his Grammy and Tony wins, Cassidy also was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards. Jack’s other claim to fame was fathering the teen idols, David Cassidy and Shaun Cassidy.

On the evening of December 11, 1976, Cassidy invited his ex-wife, Shirley Jones, over to his apartment in West Hollywood for a couple of drinks, but she declined his offer. Early the following morning, Cassidy lit a cigarette and subsequently fell asleep on his couch. While he was asleep, he dropped the lit cigarette, and it’s embers caught the Naugahyde couch he was sleeping on ablaze. The flames then rapidly spread throughout the apartment building.

Jack’s body was found near the front door of the apartment, but he was so badly burned that he had to be identified with dental records. They were also able to determine that the body was indeed his by the presence of a signet ring that he wore that bore his family crest. Cassidy’s body was cremated, and his ashes were spread in the Pacific Ocean.

Robert Emmett O’ Conner

This American actor, who appeared in more than 200 films throughout his career, which spanned between 1919 and 1950, was perhaps best known for his portrayal of the bootlegger with a heart of gold, Paddy Ryan, in the 1931 film The Public Enemy. He also played Detective Sergeant Henderson in 1935s A Night at the Opera, as well as the character Jonesy in 1950s Sunset Boulevard.

O’ Conner died on September 4, 1952, after sustaining severe burns in a fire. He was 77. 

Butterfly McQueen

Born Thelma McQueen on January 7, 1911, Butterfly, as she was better known, was an actress and dancer best known for her appearance in the iconic 1939 film Gone with the Wind as the character Prissy.

McQueen faced much prejudice throughout her career due to the fact that she was an African American. In fact, she wasn’t even permitted to attend the Gone with the Wind premiere because it was held at a whites-only movie theater.

Frustratingly, McQueen found herself typecast in the film industry as a maid. While at first, she didn’t mind playing these kinds of roles, after portraying a maid over and over again, she began to resent it.

McQueen continued to act in films well into the 40s, and from there, she moved over to television, where she appeared in many different programs. In 1960, she won a Daytime Emmy for her performance in an episode of the ABC Afterschool Special titled Seven Wishes of a Rich Kid.

McQueen died on December 22, 1995, at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Georgia, after receiving severe burns in a fire that ignited after a kerosene heater that she had attempted to light malfunctioned and erupted in flames. She was 84 years old.

Did you know about any of these celebrities who lost their lives in fires? Can you think of any other stars that died in this gruesome way? Let us know in the comments.

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