|The Centre For Dying On Stage is a research body that generates new artistic undertakings, anchored to notions around death and the stage.
The website archives, collects and collates instances of unexpected deaths that have occurred during moments of performance in the public domain. The Centre also comes to life through various real time iterations.
The Centre For Dying On Stage #1
The Centre’s first iteration takes the form of a group exhibition and related series of events. This was presented at Project Arts Centre, Dublin (IE), 18 July – 13 September 2014.
The Centre For Dying On Stage #2
The Centre’s second live staging takes the form of a promenade lecture. This was hosted as part of Performance as Process at Delfina Foundation, London (UK), 27 January 2015.
The Centre For Dying On Stage #3
The Centre’s third real life translation takes form through an intensive 6-week residency at Cow House Studios, in rural Ireland. Participating artists are invited to develop an exhibition in the form of a play to be presented at Wexford Arts Centre, Wexford (IE), 12 November 2016.
The Centre For Dying On Stage #4
As part of an exhibition, acting members of The Centre for Dying On Stage use the museum as a rehearsal space and touchstone for the development of a new theatrical production. The group exhibition The Plough and other stars is presented at IMMA – The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (IE), 15 September – January 2017.
The Centre for Dying on Stage is a research project initiated by Krist Gruijthuijsen and developed by Kate Strain.
For further information or queries regarding copyright please contact: email@example.com
Jazz saxophonist Warne Marsh died of a heart attack after collapsing onstage while performing Out of Nowhere at Donte’s in North Hollywood. According to another member of his celebrated quartet, Marsh “just slipped off his stool.” He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Walter ‘Crash’ Morgan (died 6 October 1995)
At age 36, Walter ‘Crash’ Morgan, a recent addition to the Canadian Blues-Rock group Big Sugar, suffered a heart attack, collapsed and died mid-number while performing in Waterloo, Iowa.
Edith Webster (died 22 November 1986)
After singing several choruses of Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone during a performance of The Drunkard, actress Edith Webster, aged 60, collapsed on stage for her scripted death scene and suffered an unscripted fatal heart attack. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
|Edmund Kean (died 15 May 1833)
Born in Westminster London, Kean was regarded as the greatest English actor of his time. His last stage appearance was at Covent Garden, when he played Othello (alongside Charles, his son, who was also an accomplished actor). He suddenly broke down mid-performance, crying “O God, I am dying. Speak to them, Charles” and collapsed into his son’s arms. He died two months later, at Richmond, Surrey.
Arnold Soboloff (died 28 October 1979)
The 48-year-old actor suffered a heart attack minutes after a New York City performance of Peter Pan at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater on Broadway.
Molière (died 21 February 1673)
French playwright and actor Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) collapsed during the fourth performance of his newly penned Le Malade Imaginaire (The Hypochondriac). Overwhelmed by a coughing fit caused from pulmonary tuberculosis, Molière insisted on completing his performance. Afterwards he collapsed with another, larger haemorrhage before being taken home, to the Rue de Richelieu, Paris, where he died a few hours later.
Miriam Makeba (died 9 November 2008)
The Grammy Award-winning South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba suffered a heart attack shortly after singing her hit song, Pata Pata in a concert held in Castel Volturno, near Caserta, Italy.
Jerome Rodale (died 8 June 1971)
“I’m in such good health that I fell down a long flight of stairs yesterday and I laughed all the way” bragged playwright, editor, author, and founder of publishing empire, Jerome Rodale, during what was to be his last radio interview. Rodale died of a heart attack, age 72, while participating as a guest on the Dick Cavett Show. In the middle of a discussion on politics with journalist Pete Hamill, Rodale’s head dropped to his chest and he let out what sounded like a snore. “Are we boring you, Mr. Rodale?” asked Cavett. There was no response—Rodale was dead. The show was never broadcast.
Johnny Ace (died 25 December 1954)
Rhythm and blues recording star Johnny Ace died during a show he was giving in Houston, but did so offstage. During a five minute break, the singer was amusing himself with a game of Russian Roulette (one bullet in the chamber). He lost.
Craig Colby Ewert (died 26 September 2006)
Academic and retired university professor Craig Ewert, took his own life by assisted suicide while filming in Switzerland. The documentary, Right to Die? looks at the final four days of his life and death. Ewert had been suffering from Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Owen Hart (died 23 May 1999)
Professional wrestler Owen Hart lost his life when he fell from a height of 90 feet as he was being lowered into the ring for the Over the Edge sports entertainment event in Kansas City, Missouri.
Irene Ryan (died 26 April 1973)
Best known as “Granny” on TV’s Beverly Hillbillies, spritely 71-year-old Irene Ryan suffered a stroke while performing in the Broadway musical Pippin. She died six weeks later.
Yoshiuki Takada (died 10 September 1985)
The Sankai Juku Dance Company of Toyko had been performing The Dance Of Birth And Death on the side of Seattle’s Mutual Life building when the young Butoh performer’s rope broke and he plunged six stories to his death. Takada’s accidental death was captured on film and was shown on the nightly news.
Redd Foxx (died 11 October 1991)
Actor and comedian Redd Foxx aka John Elroy Sanford suffered a heart attack on the set of The Royal Family, a new sitcom he was to appear in. Best known for his curmudgeonly role in Sanford and Son, this time it really was the big one, Elizabeth.
Antario Teodoro Filho (died 2 January 1998)
During a live show, the Brazilian radio presenter and local politician was shot dead by a gunman who burst into the studio. Police said radio listeners heard him say “This has to be a joke” shortly before the shots were fired. He was attacked by a force of 10 bullets, fired from two revolvers.
Ron Watson (died 17 March 2000)
While putting on a magic show for a group of hospital patients at Tokoroa Hospital in New Zealand, Uncle Ron the Magician collapsed and was pronounced dead 45 minutes later. The patients initially believed his folding onstage to be part of the act.
Gordon Williams (died 25 April 1997)
This 63-year-old British magician died on stage during a charity show in Sheffield, Yorks. At first the audience laughed when Gordon suddenly sat down and partner Paul McCaig—the other half of double act Ziggy Cooper—quipped: “He’s fallen asleep!”
James Tuozzolo, the principal trumpet player with the Greater Trenton Symphony Orchestra, collapsed of a heart attack on stage just after performing a solo for a New Year’s Eve concert. He died in hospital.
Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson (died 17 May 1996)
While performing at Yokohama’s Blues Cafe, the 61-year-old rhythm and blues legend suffered a heart attack. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
Darrell Abbott (died 9 December 2004)
‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott, formerly of the metal act Pantera, was shot by a disturbed fan while performing with his new group, Damageplan at Alrosa Villa, Columbus, Ohio.
Thrill seekers on “haunted hayride” in New Jersey got more of a thrill than they’d bargained for when it was discovered the teen playing the part of the hanged man was the real thing. The stunt had gone fatally wrong.
One half of Britain’s much loved comedy duo: Morecambe and Wise, Eric Morecambe (age 58) died in hospital the day after suffering a heart attack during the curtain call for a performance in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.
While attempting to film war destruction in Nicaragua, this ABC television news correspondent and his interpreter, Juan Espinosa, were executed by a National Guard soldier. Surviving members of the ABC crew managed to catch the murder on tape, and the footage was later shown on news broadcasts.
Jeroen Willems (died 3 December 2012)
Willems became unwell during the rehearsals for a gala event on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of Royal Theatre Carré in Amsterdam, later that evening. He died of the effects of congestive heart failure in the Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis hospital. The event, which would have been attended by Queen Beatrix, was cancelled as a mark of respect.
Tommy Cooper (died 15 April 1984)
Known as the fez-wearing magician whose tricks always seemed to go wrong, this British comedian suffered a heart attack during a televised performance. Given the usual nature of his act, the audience took some time to realize that this really wasn’t part of it. He died later in hospital.
American actor and comedian Dick Shawn fell and struck his head on the stage, while giving a comedy performance at the UC San Diego campus. The comedian lay there for nearly five minutes before the audience realized it was not part of his act and an ambulance was called. He died forty-five minutes later in hospital, apparently of a heart attack.
Brandon Bruce Lee was an American actor and martial artist, and the son of martial arts film star Bruce Lee. He died of a gunshot wound after an accidental shooting on set of The Crow. The metal tip of one of the dummy bullets fired from the .44 rifle had somehow pulled loose from its brass casing. When the dummies were unloaded and replaced with blanks, the metal tip remained behind in the gun's cylinder. As soon as the blank went off, its explosive force propelled the dummy tip through the gun barrel, striking Lee in the chest, and mortally wounding him.
Richard Versalle (died 5 January 1996)
American operatic tenor Richard Versalle was 63 when he died onstage at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. On the first night of the performance of Janáček’s The Makropulos Case, Versalle, who was playing the legal clerk Vitek, climbed a 20 ft ladder to file a legal brief, but had a heart attack midway and plunged to his death.
Francesco Scoglio, an Italian football manager, died of a heart attack in the midst of a heated discussion on a television sports show. He was talking heatedly with Enrico Preziosi on the regional Genoese station when he lost consciousness and slumped in his chair.
Kenneth Horne (died 14 February 1969)
English comedian and business man Kenneth Horne suffered from a heart condition, but stopped taking his anticoagulants on the advise of a faith healer. In 1969 he hosted the annual Guild of Television Producers’ and Directors’ Awards at the Dorchester Hotel in London. Horne fell from the podium mid-sentence, and died. The televised version of the event omitted the incident, bridging the gap with announcer Michael Aspel saying, “Mr Horne was taken ill at this point and has since died.”
Chingiz Mustafayev (died 15 June 1992)
While filming an exchange of fire between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces near the village of Nakhichevanik, independent Azerbaijani journalist Chingiz Mustafayev was felled by mortar fire. According to his brother Vahid Mustafayev, he was fatally wounded when a shell exploded right beside him and sharpnel from the shell severed one of his major arteries. By the time Mustafayev was airlifted to the hospital, he had died of blood loss. His last moments were captured on his own camera.
Devon Clifford (died 18 April 2010)
Devon Clifford was the drummer for the Vancouver dance-rock band You Say Party! We Say Die! In April 2010, the group was playing a triumphant hometown show after a lengthy North American tour when Clifford collapsed onstage, suffering a massive brain hemorrhage from a congenital defect. Clifford was rushed into emergency neurosurgery but after a day on life support, he passed away at age 30. The band later changed their named to You Say Party and now feature a drum machine.
Alexander Money-Kyrle (died 20 March 1998)
Ballet dancer Alexander Money-Kyrle, a former pupil of the Royal Ballet School, fell 10ft into an orchestra pit while rehearsing Romeo and Juliet with the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam in 1998. He had rushed forward to try to rescue the artistic director, Wayne Eagleing, who had fallen into the pit after mistaking dark safety netting for part of the stage.
Isabel Bonner (died 1 July 1955)
Isabel Bonner suffered a brain hemorrhage while performing on stage at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. The acclaimed actress fell dead in the midst of a scene in The Shrike before 900 shocked playgoers.
Sailendra Nath Roy (died 28 April 2013)
Indian stuntman Sailendra Nath Roy died while attempting to break the record for the furthest distance travelled on a zip wire using his own hair. He had set the record 2 years previously at Neemrana Fort Palace, Rajasthan, and wished to beat it in April 2013. Sadly, his ponytail became stuck in the wheeler of the rope halfway between points, and he was left hanging in mid air for about 25 minutes. He suffered a heart attack and died, dangling over the Teesta River in front of a horrified audience.
Louis Jean Heydt (died 29 January 1960)
American character actor Louis Jean Heydt died of a heart attack in Boston, where he collapsed immediately after leaving the stage following the first scene of a pre-Broadway performance of There Was a Little Girl. Fellow actor Joseph Curtiss carried him to his dressing room, but it was apparent that he had died instantly.
Michel Noël (died 22 June 1993)
French Quebec actor Michel Noël died of a heart attack in June 1993 while giving a performance at Mont-Saint-Hilaire. The crowd initially thought it was part of the show and it took about 15 seconds before someone from the first row took a good look and asked if there was a doctor in the audience.
Predag Jovicic (died 2 February 1975)
San (Сан) was a former Yugoslav rock band from Belgrade. The band was established in 1971 by the composer Aleksandar ‘Sanja’ Ilić, and disbanded in 1975, after the band’s vocalist Predrag Jovičić died in concert from an electric shock.
Yoshiuki Takada (died 10 September 1985)
Yoshiuki Takada was performing The Dance of Birth and Death with a Tokyo Butoh group, on the side of Seattle's Mutual Life building. His rope broke, and he fell six stories to his death.
Alexander Minto Hughes (died 13 March 1998)
Alexander Minto Hughes AKA Judge Dread was an English Reggae recording artist and ska musician. In 1998 he died of a heart attack he suffered as he was walking off stage after performing at The Penny Theatre in Canterbury, England.
Lars Gunnar ‘Lasse’ Eriksson (died 3 March 2011)
One of Sweden’s first stand-up comedians, Lasse Eriksson, died during the final number of his show Fyra lyckliga män 2 (Four happy men 2) at Regina Theatre in Uppsala, Sweden.
Spade Cooley (died 23 November 1969)
The self-proclaimed “King of Western Swing” let his jealousy overcome him in 1961, when he brutally murdered his wife. Convicted for his crime, Cooley served eight years in prison before he was scheduled for parole. In November, 1969—three months before his release date—the 59-year-old was granted a 72-hour furlough so he could perform a benefit for the Deputy Sheriff's Association in Alameda County, California. After singing the words, “Time to live before it’s time to die,” the audience gave him a standing ovation as he walked off the stage and died of a heart attack.
Montfleury (died December 1667)
Zacharie Jacob, known as Montfleury, was a famed French tragedian. His death was brought about while playing Orestes in Racine’s Andromache. He died due to a ruptured blood vessel (which was supposedly caused by violent overexertion while wearing a metal corset).
Antony Wheeler (died 17 August 1997)
Wheeler, a young British actor playing Judas in a Greek production of Jesus Christ Superstar, died suddenly when a stunt he had successfully negotiated numerous times previously went fatally wrong. His performance was supposed to conclude with Judas hanging himself, however the rope had not been fastened to his safety harness, and so he met his death. As the audience were cleared, the show's director tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate Mr Wheeler.
Addie ‘Micki’ Harris (died 10 June 1982)
A member of the pioneering female R&B group the Shirelles, Harris used to tell group mate Beverly Lee, “When I die, I want to go real quickly, and I want to go with my rock and roll shoes on.” In 1982, shortly after coming off stage at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, Harris, 42, collapsed of a heart attack and died, still wearing her rock and roll shoes.
Eugenie Blair (died 13 May 1922)
American stage actress Eugenie Blair died backstage after playing Marthy in the Broadway production of Anna Christie at the Vanderbilt Theatre.
Margaret ‘Peg’ Woffington (died 28 March 1760)
Playing the part of Rosalind in As You Like It, Woffington, the well-known Irish actress in Georgian London, collapsed on stage. She took to her bed with paralysis, and suffered with a wasting illness for 3 years before passing away in 1760.
After appearing in many comedies and musicals over an almost 50 year career, Burns, the 70-year-old actor, died onstage of a heart attack in Philadelphia during the out-of-town tryout of Kander and Ebb’s musical 70, Girls, 70.
|Karl Wallenda (died 22 March
The German-American aerialist and founder of The Flying Wallendas, died age 73, while attempting to walk a wire suspended 121 feet in the air between two ten storey hotel towers in Sao Paulo. Due to improper wiring support, coupled with high winds, Wallenda fell to his death during his attempt. A film crew from WAPA-TV in San Juan caught the fall on tape.
Keilberth (died 20 July 1968)
This 60-year-old conductor died at the National Theatre in Munich after collapsing while conducting Wagner’s opera Tristan and Isolde. This is alleged to have taken place in exactly the same spot as where Felix Mottl was similarly stricken in 1911.
Woolcott, an American critic and commentator for The New Yorker, died during round table discussion on Hitlerism, broadcast live on CBS. Mid-broadcast, Woolcott suffered a heart attack, and died in hospital four hours later. Listeners, perplexed at his uncharacteristic silence, were unaware anything was amiss.
Nelson Ackerman Eddy (died 6 March 1967)
Nelson Eddy was an American singer and actor who appeared in 19 musical films during the 1930s and 40s. In March 1967 Eddy was performing at the Sans Souci Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida when he was stricken on stage with a cerebral hemorrhage. His singing partner, Gale Sherwood, and his accompanist, Ted Paxson, were at his side. He died a few hours later in the early hours of March 6, 1967, at the age of 65.
R. Budd Dwyer (died 22 January 1987)
The Pennsylvania state treasurer staged televised suicide moments before being sentenced on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, perjury, and racketeering for taking a $300,000 kickback on a state computer contract. Dwyer convened a press conference in his office, and while the film rolled, he handed out a twenty-page press statement, made a few remarks, then placed the barrel of a .357 revolver in his mouth and pulled the trigger. The tape of his death was shown on the nightly news.
Harry Parke (died 24 November 1958)
Known also as Harry Einstein, Parky and Parkyakarkus, the famed comedian died while performing at a Friars Club Beverly Hills roast for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. He had just finished his testimonial to a house full of laughter when he slumped onto Milton Berle’s lap. Berle asked “Is there a doctor in the house?” This remark was met with laughter by the crowd, unaware of the gravity of the situation. Host of the event, Art Linkletter, directed crooner Tony Martin to distract the crowd’s attention with a song—Martin’s unfortunate choice was There’s No Tomorrow, which of course for Parky, there was not.
Tyrone Power (died 15 November 1958)
American film and stage actor, Tyrone Power, suffered a heart attack during the filming of a fencing scene in Solomon and Sheba in Madrid, Spain. He died minutes after being loaded into an ambulance.
This Austrian conductor and composer died in Munich at the age of 55, 11 days after suffering a heart attack while conducting Act II of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. It marked his 100th performance of the piece.
Dornacker (died 22 October 1986)
Singer, Actress, Comedian and traffic reporter Jane Dornacker died when the helicopter she was reporting from crashed into the Hudson River. The 39 year old had been presenting the live traffic report for WNBC Radio in New York City, when the helicopter suddenly plunged from an altitude of roughly 75 feet, stalling the broadcast, and ending Dornacker’s life.
van Beinum (died 13 April 1959)
Chief conductor at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Eduard van Beinum was taken ill after rehearsing the first two movements of a Brahms symphony, and died immediately after stepping off the podium.
Leonard Warren (died 4 March 1960)
Just after he completed his second-act aria in Verdi’s La Forza del Destino (The Force of Destiny) at the New York’s Metropolitan Opera, American opera singer Leonard Warren plunged face-forward onto the stage. The curtain was hung, and it was announced 30 minutes later that the singer had died of a massive stroke.
This aviation pioneer and legendary movie stunt pilot died in Yuma, Arizona, during the filming of The Flight Of The Phoenix. As three motion picture cameras ground away, his plane hit a small sand dune, overturned and disintegrated. Though semi-retired from stunt work, Mantz was covering for his partner, Frank Tallman, who'd six weeks earlier broken his leg pushing his son's go-cart.
Timothy ‘Tip’ Tipping (died 6 February 1993)
While re-enacting a skydiving accident for the BBC programme 999 (a show which dramatically reconstructs real-life narrow escapes), veteran stunt co-ordinator and performer Tip Tipping died when his main parachute and two reserves failed to open.
Cyril Ritchard (died 19 December 1977)
83-year-old actor Cyril Ritchard suffered a heart attack during a November performance in Chicago of the musical Side By Side. As a result, Ritchard slipped into a fatal coma from which he never recovered.
Grover Washington Jr. (died 17 December 1999)
Jazz saxophonist and composer Grover Washington Jr. suffered a heart attack and collapsed after studio performances of four songs that Friday evening for The Saturday Early Show on CBS. He died in hospital in New York City.
Renato Di Paolo (died 22 April 2000)
A young actor playing Judas during an Easter re-enactment mistakenly hung himself in Camerata Nuova, a town 45 miles from Rome. Footage of Di Paolo’s death was captured on video and given to Italy’s RAI TV, where it was broadcast the next day, on Easter Sunday.
Rob Harris (died 14 December 1995)
During the filming of a Mountain Dew commercial, sky surfer Harris’s parachute failed to open and he plunged to his death. Despite rumors to the contrary, though the finished commercial contains some footage of Harris, none comes from his final jump.
Nancy McCormick (died 25 November 1986)
McCormick, a young traffic reporter for radio station WKRC was killed when the station’s helicopter crashed one foggy morning in Cincinnati.
Spector (died 8 March 1994)
Radio host Jack Spector suffered a fatal heart attack while broadcasting popular music on WHLI in Garden City, Long Island. Though he was rushed to the hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival. The song playing at the time of his heart attack was I’m in the Mood For Love.
Better known as Country Dick Montana of the underground rock band The Beat Farmers, Daniel McLain met his fate on stage following a heart attack which took him suddenly during a sold out performance at the Longhorn Saloon in Whistler, B.C.
Hexum died of a gunshot wound after he accidentally shot himself in the head with a .44-caliber magnum pistol loaded with blanks while on the set of the TV series Cover-Up. Wadding from the blank cartridge had been driven into his skull.
Carl Barnett (died 23 April 1974)
Barnett, a 59-year-old high-school band director, died of a heart attack while conducting Bach’s Come, Sweet Death at the Will Rogers High School in Tulsa. It was his first and last performance of that piece.
The 54-year-old Italian conductor and composer collapsed and died of a heart attack while conducting Verdi’s Aida, at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin.
Ostroska (died January 1970)
While playing the lead in Macbeth at the Crawford Livingston Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota, Ostroska dropped dead of a heart attack at the beginning of the second act. He was 32.
The lead guitarist of the Glasgow band Stone the Crows died after being electrocuted onstage at Swansea's Top Rank Ballroom.
Gordon Reid (died 26 November 2003)
Scottish Actor Gordon Reid collapsed and died on stage from a heart attack at the Finborough Theatre, London halfway through Act Two of a performance of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
Sid James (died 26 April 1976)
Sid James was the South-African born English-based actor and comedian, best known for his Carry On roles. The grand old man of dirty laughter collapsed onstage at the Sunderland Empire during a performance of The Mating Game and died in hospital shortly thereafter. He had suffered a heart attack.
John Ritter (died 11 September 2003)
During the taping of the TV sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, the 54-year-old American actor, comedian and voiceover artist was stricken by a previously undiagnosed heart problem—aortic dissection. Initially complaining of severe chest pains, he was brough off-set and taken to the Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center where he died later that night.
Jackie Wilson (died 23 January 1984)
Eight years after collapsing on stage during a performance and slipping into a coma, this singer died. He’d been felled in Cherry Hill, N.J. on 25 September 1975 while touring with Dick Clark’s touring rock’n’roll revival. Though Wilson emerged from the coma a year later, treatment in medical facilities failed to restore his health.
M.N. Vijayan (died 3 October 2007)
M.N. Vijayan, an Indian writer, orator and academic, died of cardiac arrest during a televised interview in Kerala. During the speech, Vijayan had been suffering from headaches and drowsiness. Caught on film, his last words were “It’s not the individual, but the nation is important. This language should be used if it has to be heard, it was Bernard Shaw who said this.” The cameras continued filming, effectively broadcasting his death on national television as he rapidly lost consciousness and slumped backwards in his chair.
Tiny Tim (died 30 November 1996)
Performing at a Minneapolis fundraiser, Tiny Tim aka Herbert Khaury cut short his rendition of Tiptoe Through The Tulips. Turning to leave the stage, he was felled by a heart attack and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
Emma Livry (died 24 September 1842)
The luminous dancing career of Romantic era ballerina Emma Livry, was extinguished at the mere age of twenty-one. During a rehearsal of The Dumb Girl of Portici, Livry’s skirt caught fire. Her friends and colleagues rushed to smother the flames but she was severely burned. She died after eight months of extreme suffering.
Days before his soundtrack Return of the Superfly was to be released, Mayfield was enjoying a comeback in 1990 when he walked on stage in a Brooklyn park. Just after he plugged in his guitar, a gust of wind knocked over a lighting scaffold, which hit Mayfield. Paralyzed from the neck down, Mayfield, 57, died nine years later from diabetes- related complications traced back to the injury.
Italian actor Claudio Cassinelli died on the set of Vendetta dal futuro. His helicopter crashed into a bridge, allegedly due to an error of the pilot, while filming an action scene.
Sarah Guyard-Guillot (died 29 June 2013)
During a performance of the Cirque du Soleil extravaganza Kà, aerialist performer Sarah Guyard-Guillot plummeted an estimated 27 metres into a pit below the stage. Known as ‘Sasoun’ to friends and colleagues, the young mother of two died of her injuries before she reached hospital.
Viktor Sedov (died 17 July 2013)
A senior violinist at Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre died following a freak accident when he fell from the stage into the orchestra pit. Viktor Sedov, 65, who had performed at the world-famous theatre in Moscow for four decades, died in hospital as a result of his injuries following the fall.
57 year old Jose Fernando Castro Caycedo, a Colombian political party member, died of a stroke in Bogota, during a session of The Sixth Committee of the House Of Representatives in Colombia.
|Vic Morrow (died 23 July 1982)
In Hollywood’s most infamous on-set tragedy, Vic Morrow and two child actors in Twilight Zone, The Movie were killed when struck by a helicopter during the late-night filming of a mock Vietnam battle scene in Valencia, California.
Lead singer of the Boston-based rock band Morphine, 47-year-old Mark Sandman collapsed on stage during a concert in Rome. He had suffered a heart attack and was pronounced dead in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
Christine Chubbuck was an American television news reporter who committed suicide during a live TV broadcast. When a technical problem interfered with the orderly presentation of a story on her morning news show, the 30-year-old news anchor announced, “In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts and in living color, you are going to see another first—attempted suicide.” She then drew a revolver and shot herself in the head. Chubbuck died 14 hours later in hospital.
Anthony Odom (died 26 October 1990)
This North Carolina 15-year-old who’d been staging a gallows scene at a Halloween party accidentally hanged himself when the noose somehow tightened.
During a 1958 live television broadcast of the Armchair Theatre play Underground on the ITV network in the UK, Jones suffered a massive heart attack and died while off-camera between two of his scenes. The director and remaining cast were forced to improvise in Jones’ sudden absence. Coincidentally, Jones’s character was to have suffered a heart attack during the play.
Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin, aka ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ was stung and killed by a stingray whilst filming in Australia. He had been on location to shoot a documentary Ocean’s Deadliest, and was snorkelling at Batt Reef, when a stingray suddenly turned and pierced him in the chest with its tail spine. Crew members aboard Irwin’s boat administered CPR and rushed him to shore, but he was pronounce dead at the scene.
Sam Patch (died 13 November 1829)
American daredevil Sam Patch died in Rochester, New York, during a jump into the High Falls of the Genesee River. He had successfully leapt into High Falls just one week previously.
John ‘Chuck’ O’Connor (died 1927)
John Edward ‘Chuck’ O’Connor, was an acrobat with Ringling-Barnum and Bailey Circus. Father of Donald O’Connor, he died suddenly on stage during a family vaudeville dance number.
Albert Frederic Stoessel (died 12 May 1943)
American composer, violinist and conductor Albert Stoessel was on stage conducting an orchestra for the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, when he died of a heart attack on May 12, 1943.
Piermario Morosini (died 14 April 2012)
Italian footballer Piermario Morosini died after collapsing during a Series B match at Pescara, Italy. The 25-year-old collapsed after suffering a heart attack during the first half of the game (a match between Pescara and Livorno in Italian football’s second division).
Louis Vierne (died 2 June 1937)
On a June evening in Paris, a reported 3,000 people gathered to hear the famous organist and composer, Louis Vierne of Notre Dame, perform. Vierne could barely climb the steps up to the organ loft; a doctor administered heart stimulant pills to help. Vierne suffered either a stroke or a heart attack (eyewitness reports differ) while giving his 1750th organ recital. The closing section of his main concert was to be two improvisations on selected themes. He read the first theme in Braille, then selected the stops he would use for the improvisation. He suddenly pitched forward, and fell off the bench as his foot hit the low ‘E’ pedal of the organ. He lost consciousness as the single note echoed throughout the church.
Ty Longley (died 20 February 2003)
On February 20, 2003, the 1980’s metal band Great White was performing its song ‘Desert Moon’ at The Station in Warwick, Rhode Island, when the band's fireworks were triggered suddenly. The ill-planned pyrotechnics show caused a disastrous fire that killed 100 people inside the 50-year-old building. While most of the band escaped through a nearby stage door, Longley leaped off the front of the stage, toward a friend. The friend survived but Longley, 31, did not.
Australian born actor Alan Marshal (who had co-starred alongside Greta Garbo, Ginger Rogers and Marlene Dietrich) suffered a heart attack and died while appearing in Chicago with Mae West in a production of her play ‘Sextette’. He was 52 years old.
Lil Hardin, the second wife of Louis Armstrong, was performing at a televised memorial concert for Louis, when she collapsed at the piano. Hardin died an hour later.
Lee Morgan (died 19 February 1972)
American hard bop trumpeter Lee Morgan was killed in the early hours, at Slug’s Saloon, a jazz club in New York City’s East Village where his band was performing. Following an argument between sets, Morgan’s wife, Helen More, pulled a gun and shot her husband. The injuries were not immediately fatal, but the ambulance service was reluctant to go into the neighborhood where the club was located. They took so long to get there that Morgan bled to death. He was 33 years old.
Concert pianist Barere died of a cerebral haemorrhage at Carnegie Hall while playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor. Eugene Ormandy had been conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra, when Barere suddenly collapsed and died backstage afterwards.
Wong Ka Kui (died 30 June 1993)
During the filming of a Japanese game show Ucchan-nanchan no yarunara yaraneba, Wong Ka Kui, a member of Hong Kong-based band Beyond, had to walk across a wet and slippery platform as part of a challenge. Both he and his co-host slipped and fell 2.7m to the ground, with Ka Kui hitting landing head-first and falling into a coma immediately. He died a week later.
Zeki Müren (died 24 September 1996)
Adored Turkish singer and pop idol Zeki Müren died of a heart attack during a live performance on stage, in the city of Izmir, Turkey. His death caused the greatest public grief in years and thousands of Turks attended his funeral. Zeki Müren Art Museum was established in Bodrum, where Müren used to live. All his worldly possessions are donated to the Türk Egitim Vakfi (Foundation for Turkish Education) and Mehmetçik Vakfi (Armed Forces Foundation for Disabled Veterans and Families of the Martyrs.)
Paolo ‘Feiez’ Panigada (died 23 December 1998)
Feiez was a member of the Italian band Elio e le Storie Tese. He died of a brain haemorrhage while performing onstage in December 1998.
Anthony Burger (died 22 February 2006)
Classical/Gospel pianist and Multi-Award Winner Anthony Burger suffered a massive heart attack while performing a piano piece entitled ‘Hear my song Lord’ during a Gaither Homecoming concert aboard the MS Zuiderdam. Attempts to revive him backstage failed, and the musician died aboard the Caribbean cruise liner.
Vincent LaGuardia (died 9 March 2012)
Vincent LaGuardia, a classical music conductor, collapsed during a performance of Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue in D minor’ at a concert in Colorado. He was the long-time conductor of the Arapahoe Philharmonic, a small classical group in Littleton, Colorado. LaGuardia collapsed about two-thirds of the way through the Bach piece, a well-known organ composition, and members of the orchestra and audience attempted to help the conductor. He was taken to a hospital, where he died that night. Officials said the apparent cause of death was a heart attack.
Frank Eckhart (died 24 February 1959)
Polish American tenor Frank Eckhart returned to Europe after WWII. In 1959 he died of a stroke after the Te Deum scene during a gala performance of Tosca. The performance was stopped.
Godfrey Cambridge (died 29 November 1976)
43-year-old American comedian and actor Godfrey Cambridge died of a heart attack on the set of Victory at Entebbe at Burbank, California. Cambridge had been due to portray Idi Amin for the ABC television movie. Amin later commented that Cambridge’s death was “punishment from God”.
Jean Baptiste Lully (died 22 March 1687)
A 17th century conducting baton (known as a ‘large staff’) was the object responsible for the death of Jean-Baptiste Lully. He injured his foot with the instrument while conducting a Te Deum for the King’s recovery from illness. The wound became gangrenous and, refusing amputation, Lully died from the infection two months later.
Joseph Burrus (died 30 October 1990)
An amateur magician and resident of Fresno, California, Joseph Burrus devised a complicated escape stunt that was to be his last. As part of the stunt, he was bound, confined in a plastic coffin, and buried under seven tons of soil and concrete. Handcuffed and chained, he was lowered into the hole. Assistants shoveled three feet of soil onto the casket, then a truck poured concrete into the hole. As they were topping up the cement, the level suddenly dropped 18 inches. 15 minutes of excavating later, rescuers reached Burrus, but it was too late—he had been crushed.
(died 26 May 1984)
American country and bluegrass musician Onie Wheeler died of a massive heart attack while performing on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville. Wheeler was onstage playing with Rev. Jimmie Snow when he collapsed and died of a heart attack.
Mr Cummins (died 20 June 1817)
The actor known only as Mr. Cummins, died on stage, whilst playing the part of Dumont, in the tragedy Jane Shore, at the Leeds Theatre in Hunslet, England. He died of ossification of the heart, having uttered his final words from the play “May such befall me at my latest hour…”
Sylvia Syms (died 10 May 1992)
American jazz and cabaret singer Sylvia Syms was considered by Frank Sinatra to be the world’s greatest saloon singer. She died, aged 74, of a heart attack during a set at New York City’s Algonquin Hotel.
Andrei Mironov (died 16 August 1987)
The Soviet theatre and film actor (and popular singer) Andrei Mironov collapsed on stage while performing the lead role in The Marriage of Figaro, on tour through Latvia. He was rushed to a hospital where two days later he was pronounced dead due to a ruptured cerebral aneurysm two days later.
P C Sorcar (died 6 January 1971)
P C Sorcar was the stage name of Protul Chandra Sorcar, a famous Indian magician. He died of a heart attack at the young age of 58 in Ashaikawa, Hokkaido, Japan, where he was performing his Ind-dra-jal. The world mourned the loss of the great king of magic.
Harry Kalas (died 13 April 2009)
American sportscaster Harry Kalas was best know for his role as lead play-by-play announcer for Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies. He collapsed of a heart attack in the broadcast booth at Nationals Park while preparing for an afternoon game, and later died at George Washington University Hospital.
Pablo Lizaso (died 25 June 2001)
An Argentinian comedic actor, who appeared on television and in theatre, Pablo Lizaso died of an aneurism suffered while rehearsing in the Gran Rex Theatre, Argentina.
Philippé Wynne (died 14 July 1984)
In the 1970s, Wynne fronted The Spinners, whose hits included ‘I’ll Be Around’ and ‘The Rubberband Man.’ In 1984, the 43-year-old performer was dancing in the audience during an encore at Ivey's nightclub in Oakland, California, when he collapsed of a heart attack. He died the next morning.
Chung Ling Soo (died 24 March 1918)
William Ellsworth Robinson, the American magician who performed under the stage-name Chung Ling Soo, died after being shot in the chest while performing the bullet catch trick. The inquest judged the case “accidental death” after his wife explained the perilous nature of the trick.
Coen van Vrijberghe de Coningh
(died 15 November 1997)
The Dutch actor, musician, composer, record producer and TV presenter died unexpectedly from cardiac arrest during a performance of the television series Flodder (to an audience of several hundred). As part of the act, he jumped on the hood of a pink Chevrolet, but suddenly fell backwards and remained motionless. The audience assumed it was a scripted element of the show. Sadly resuscitation attempts failed, and Vrijberghe de Coningh passed away.
Sir Henry Irving (died 13 October 1905)
An English stage actor and actor-manager operating in the Victorian era, Sir Henry Irving was the first actor to be awarded a knighthood. One October evening, he was performing as Becket in Tennyson’s play of the same name, at the Bradford Theatre. Upon uttering the line “Into thy hands, O Lord, into thy hands” he was seized by fainting, and died shortly after.