Do you know about all the respected actors who tragically died in car crashes? This is one of the most terrible ways to die and sadly, we’ve lost many great actors as a result of automobile accidents.
While it saddens us to learn about their passing, we should also find inspiration when we look back at their remarkable lives and careers. Many of these actors were iconic American entertainers. Some of them were still young and in their prime, but still left behind a great body of work.
They’ve given us incredible performances on stage, radio, film, and television. They may have left us physically, but their legacies continue to live on. Their lives and careers remain an inspiration for us all.
Stay tuned to learn about many of the respected actors who were essentially household names that sadly died in car crashes…
Steve Allen was born in 1921 in New York City. He had a prolific career in television, cinema, stage, radio, and literature. His parents were a successful vaudeville duo, though his father died during Steve’s infancy.
As a teenager, Steve Allen ran away from home and soon began begging to make ends meet. He eventually became a student at Arizona State University, then known as Arizona State Teachers College. During his university years, he began working in radio on the KOY station in Phoenix.
He later trained as an infantryman in the U.S. Army during the Second World War. After completing his service, he eventually moved to California. He resumed his radio career and worked as an announcer for the KFAC station in Los Angeles.
He eventually became the host of Smile Time, a popular radio comedy series. He then began working in television at the end of the 1940s. He soon grew into a popular personality on television, becoming a frequent panelist on the game show What’s My Line?
As he became more popular on television, he soon had the power to make decisions behind the scenes. In the 1950s, he created The Tonight Show which became the most significant late-night talk show in America. He hosted the show for 3 years. He then became the host of the variety show, The Steve Allen Show.
He also acted on occasion, appearing in films such as Down Memory Lane, The Benny Goodman Story, College Confidential, and Rich Man, Poor Man.
Allen also composed songs and wrote several books and articles. He truly was one of America’s greatest entertainment icons. Allen was also a great thinker, one that’s rare among entertainers today.
Steve Allen died in the year 2000 at the age of 78. He died from a ruptured blood vessel which was the result of chest injuries he sustained from a car accident.
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Larry Blyden was born in Houston, Texas in 1925. He developed an interest in acting during his youth and began acting in plays during his teenage years.
He later served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Second World War. After the war, Blyden began studying at the University of Houston. During his university years, he began working in radio. He worked as an announcer for KPRC radio. Blyden also began acting in plays at the Houston Little Theater and the Alley Theater.
Upon receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree, he moved to New York City to pursue an acting career.
During his initial years in New York, he continued to work in radio and enrolled at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting to study his craft. He soon began a distinguished career on stage. He appeared in plays such as Flower Drum Song and You Can’t Take It With You.
His theater career spanned from the 1950s to the 1970s. Much of his career outside of theater was in television. He had several recurring roles and bit parts on popular TV shows such as The Elgin Hour, Playhouse 90, The Alcoa Hour, The Chevy Mystery Show, The Witness, Omnibus, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and The Man From UNCLE.
He also hosted game shows such as Personality and What’s My Line?
He also appeared in films such as Kiss Them For Me and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.
He died from injuries following a car accident in Morocco. He died from these injuries in 1975 at the age of 49. There was also speculation that this wasn’t the true cause of his death and it’s also believed that he was carjacked and murdered!
Perhaps the most iconic American actor who died in a car crash was an actor who was still in his prime. His acting career was short lived but that didn’t stop him from leaving an incredible body of work.
James Dean was born in 1931 in Indiana. As a teenager, his biggest interests included race car driving and acting. He briefly studied Drama at UCLA after changing his major from Pre-Law. He acted in plays such as Macbeth and began studying acting through James Whitmore’s workshops.
His first TV appearance was in a Pepsi Cola commercial. His first TV speaking role was in a TV movie called Hill Number One. He played the role of John the Beloved Disciple. He later had roles on popular TV shows such as Robert Montgomery Presents, The United States Steel Hour, and General Electric Theater.
His first major film role was Elia Kazan’s film East of Eden based on the John Steinbeck novel. Two years later, he appeared as Jim Stark in the film Rebel Without A Cause. This was the film that made him a star and is the film that defined his legacy.
His final film was Giant directed by George Stevens. He died in a tragic car crash while he and his friends were driving westbound on US Route 466. Their car crashed with a 1950 Ford Tudor and James Dean was stuck in the car. He was pronounced dead on arrival when the ambulance arrived.
Though his career was short-lived, James Dean remains an icon of American cinema.
Norman Burton was born in New York City in 1923. He studied his craft at the famous The Actors Studio.
He began his career working on stage and had his first film role in the 1956 film Fright. He appeared as the Hunt Leader gorilla in The Planet of the Apes. He later acted as a human army officer in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.
One of his most well-known roles was as the CIA agent Felix Leiter in the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. He also played Will Giddings in The Towering Inferno.
His later films included The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, The Gumball Rally, Murder in Peyton Place, Crimes of Passion, Bloodsport, Deepspace, and American Ninja V – which was his final film role. He also had occasional TV work in shows such as Knight Rider, War and Remembrance, Murder She Wrote, and The Ted Knight Show.
He died in a car accident while returning from Mexico in 2003. This was just a few days before his eightieth birthday.
Ernie Kovacs was an American actor, comedian, and writer. He was born in New Jersey in 1919. He began studying drama in high school and then later furthered his craft at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
He grew up watching B-movies which would influence his comedic style. His career began in radio though it took off when he transitioned to television. He hosted popular TV shows including Deadline for Dinner, Now You’re Cooking, Three to Get Ready.
He created a unique comedic and visual style that included superimpositions, blackouts, video effects, and other camera tricks that are still used today. He also acted in films such as Operation Mad Ball, It Happened to Jane, Our Man in Havana, North to Alaska, and Sail a Crooked Ship.
In January of 1962, he lost control over his car and crashed into a power pole. He was ejected out of the car and died almost instantly. He remains an icon of American television and is also considered a pioneer of special effects.
It came as a huge shock when an actor associated with one of the most famous film franchises involving cars died from a tragic car accident. Paul Walker died from a car crash when his Porsche Carrera GT crashed into a concrete lamp and two trees. His friend Roger Rodas was driving the car and also died in the accident.
Paul Walker was born in 1973 in California. He began his modeling career as a child and appeared in TV commercials. In the 1980s and 1990s, he appeared in popular TV shows such as Highway to Heaven, Throb, Charles in Charge, and Who’s the Boss?
His film career began in several B-grade films such as Monster in the Closet, and Tammy and the T-Rex. He later graduated to A-list films such as Pleasantville, Varsity Blues, and She’s All That.
His breakthrough role, of course, was in the 2001 film The Fast and the Furious where he played LAPD detective Brian O’Conner. He reprised this role in the sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fast Five, Fast and Furious 6, and in Furious 7 which was his final film role and was released posthumously.
His other notable film roles following his big break included work in Flags of our Fathers, The Death and Life of Bobby Z, The Lazarus Project, Takers, and Pawn Shop Chronicles. He left us too soon, but also left behind a great body of work – including one of the most popular franchises in contemporary American film.
Are you a fan of any of these actors?
Do you feel their legacy lives on? Or do we need to promote their work more so that they’re never forgotten?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
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