Casualties of the Entertainment Business

Gia Allemand

When I was growing up there was an old saying in my house about celebrities always dying in threes. I doubt that the idea was exclusive to my small household, as I’ve heard variations on that particular theme elsewhere.  But the idea of celebrities (spelt actors or movie stars) dying in some sort of deathly trio usually dealt with older stars who were all of similar age groups. But recently a disturbing trend of younger casualties of the entertainment business has appeared  and they’ve all had one thing in common.


Whether it be addiction to drugs or alcohol, love, or even the business of acting professionally, all but one, were under the age of 40 and they were all the more tragic because of their youth. Let’s face it, when we are older, folks grieve differently. By the time we’ve entered our “dotage” we’ve lived life and garnered plaudits for our achievements. These “youngsters” will not enter their autumn years nor will they garner any further awards.

Because, unless you’re James Dean, when you are gone, the awards; the adulation; all stop. The grim reaper has you as part of his world now and that bony fingered fellow doesn’t give out but the one award; the joining of his non-exclusive club.

I write for the Las Vegas Guardian Express. I have done so since April this year. I write what I call the fluff. Entertainment. I write about Miley Cyrus and her near nudity in the desperate attempt to ditch her previous incarnation of Hannah Montana once and for all. Kim Kardashian, Johnny Depp, Bruce Willis, et al. Most of them, with the exception of the Kardashians, all have one thing in common.

They are actors.

Yes, it can be argued that a lot of them wear several hats apart from the acting one, but even “Miley Cyrus as pop star” started as an actor.

Cory Monteith

The most recent list of entertainment business casualties are depressingly young, with the exception of Lisa Robin Kelly who had reached the age when death starts to visit us with alarming regularity, and two of them were seemingly successful artists with a long career ahead of them.

Are they any different than other young people in the world who either take their own lives too soon or mix a deadly cocktail of drugs and alcohol that proves to be the last thing they do before dying?

Yes and no.

Yes, in that people are people and they all act amazingly alike in most given sets of circumstances. No, because the two of the  casualties I’m thinking of were in the entertainment business and actors by trade.

Actors live a dichotomous existence. The duality of their personalities require that they have almost super-human self-confidence combined with the odd mix of shyness married to almost crushing insecurity. They also usually have a bushel basket of talent and, if they are a younger star, charisma and good looks.

Gia Allemand who just died as the result of hanging herself, was a good example of all the parts of her life adding up to personal misery because the one thing that she really wanted was tantalisingly out of reach.  She wanted to be a part of the perfect romantic union, without it she apparently did not feel complete and her inner disappointment combined with her use of self-medication to carry on, ganged up on her and drove her to end it all.

Cory Monteith had a publicly admitted addiction problem. He was another young actor who combined illegal drugs with his talent and some inner need to tune out the world via another form of self-medication.  Like many other addicts, he struggled to stay “clean” and the battle ultimately cost him his life.

Neither of these two youngsters deaths are special. Thousands of their “peers” face the same dilemma’s that they faced. The biggest difference is that their lives were broadcast, if you will, because of their occupation. Actors live to act and if they are successful they then become a product that is constantly on show and for sale. To not be on sale is to not work, so the pressure is on 24/7.

Lisa Robin Kelly

So why are their problems, deaths or successes more important or newsworthy than their peers? Because of fame. Not all are equal in their share of the limelight, but all are in it to some degree or another. That is what makes their loss of life so tragic. They have achieved what we mere mortals cannot. A sort of immortality, even if it is fleeting; as was the case of Lisa Robin Kelly whose career took a nosedive after That 70s Show; an immortality that most of us rely on our children giving us.

It always saddens me when I have to write about a young star whose rise has been ended prematurely by their own hand, either accidentally or on purpose. They were the lucky ones who had that wonderful job that “they would have done for free” that we all search for. But the perfect job does not guarantee personal satisfaction. As an actor myself, I shake my head at the waste of so much talent. As a writer, I shake my head at the tragedy of a young person who will no longer be able to live their lives.

As  person, I marvel at the inequalities of these particular entertainment business casualties  who get so much attention from the world. The non-celebrity people of the world have their personal misery to deal with as well. They sometimes, like Allemand and the Indian actress  Jiah Kahn, end their lives voluntarily. Others will,  by “their own hand,” end it all accidentally. All are equally tragic, but real people who stare death in the face daily, do not get much more than a standard obituary column in the local paper. I will continue to write about the deaths of these young talented people, but I will never be able to rid myself of the needless sense of loss each time I sit down to chronicle a life too short.

Indian Actress Jiah Khan who took her own life because of love.

Michael Smith

United Kingdom

16 August 2013

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

9 thoughts on “Casualties of the Entertainment Business”

  1. The daughter of my nan’s best friend jumped to her death off a cliff in Sidmouth about a month ago. She was in her twenties with a four year old kid. Did the world hear about it? No, because she wasn’t famous so, ‘who cares’?

    It is tragic that people feel that ending their life is the way out, and it’s a shame suicide is looked upon as selfish and cowardly because that’s one of the reasons people are afraid to get help when they need it. Such a waste of talent and life and such a shame :/

    Having said that I’d probably want to commit suicide if my face was in the newspapers and online every day by paparazzi and journalists. I would either have gone completely mad and would be in a nut house or I’d have drank myself to oblivion! I despise celebrity culture with a passion!!

    It’s horrible that there are so many people ending their lives because they genuinely believe that’s the resolution, life is getting harder for everyone lately and a lot of normal people with normal jobs are struggling to make ends meet too, I guess we just don’t hear about that because unless it’s celeb gossip no one gives a toss!


    1. I had two work colleagues commit suicide three years ago. They were dating/living together. She hung herself from a bannister the day after I’d seen her in the car park outside our work. He waited until a few months later after an accident had killed yet another colleague and he felt responsible. He hung himself as well.

      Suicide is such a wasteful death. Both of these people had so much to give, but they were both “beaten down” by life. And sadly, like your nan’s best friends daughter, apart from those who knew them and worked with them, no one really cared.

      As you point out, only celebrities make the headlines. Sad and wasteful either way.


      1. It is sad and wasteful, and selfish to be honest, and there isn’t enough help out there for people that need it either. It ruins the lives of those who have to find them dead too, a family member (but I can’t remember who) was a train driver. Made direct eye contact with someone as they jumped in front of the train and then saw them splattered across the front of it. He ended up quitting his job soon after and as you can imagine, hasn’t been the same since!! It’s a horrible thing, and the lives of the rich and famous are no easier than our own (although that’s often brought on by bad decisions)
        It’s a wonder the government(s) haven’t attempted to do something to improve the quality of life really, I guess celebs don’t count because their suicide stories are gossip and they sell headlines :/


      2. Unfortunately too true. The people who decide to take their lives cannot think past their own misery, Sorry it took so long to respond, this was buried in my spam folder again!


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