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These young actors left behind lives of unfulfilled promise

1 of 10 Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com


Heath Ledger (April 4, 1979 - Jan. 22, 2008, accidental overdose) The beloved Brokeback Mountain's unexpected death - and its mysterious circumstances - shocked family, friends and fans around the world.
2 of 10 Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com


Brad Renfro (July 25, 1982 - Jan. 15, 2008, unknown causes) Though it's still unclear what Renfro died from, he had struggled with drugs and alcohol after early success in movies like The Client.
3 of 10 Gregg DeGuire/WireImage.com


Aaliyah (Jan. 16, 1979 - Aug. 25, 2001, plane crash) Only 22 when her charter plane crashed in the Bahamas, Aaliyah had already become an R&B sensation and received acclaim for two movie roles.
4 of 10 Warner Bros. Television/Everett Collection


David Strickland (Oct. 14, 1969 - March 22, 1999, suicide) Best known for his role in Suddenly Susan, Strickland had been arrested for cocaine possession and was found to have been drinking when he killed himself.
5 of 10 Barry King/WireImage.com


River Phoenix (Aug. 23, 1970 - Oct. 31, 1993, drug overdose) Phoenix was perhaps the most promising actor of his generation; his death from a heroin and cocaine overdose inspired many tributes from fellow performers.
6 of 10 Barry King/WireImage.com


Brandon Lee (Feb. 1, 1965 - March 31, 1993, accidental gunshot wound) The son of Bruce Lee, who himself died young, Brandon was shot in the abdomen by a malfunctioning prop gun while filming The Crow.
7 of 10 Everett Collection


Rebecca Schaeffer (Nov. 6, 1967 - July 18, 1989, homicide) California laws were changed significantly in response to the My Sister Sam star's death at the hands of her stalker.
8 of 10 Everett Collection


Freddie Prinze (June 22, 1954 - Jan. 29, 1977, suicide) The young father and Chico and the Man star had a quaalude dependency and was being sued for divorce when he shot himself in the head.
9 of 10 Ron Galella/WireImage.com


Sharon Tate (Jan. 24, 1943 - Aug. 9, 1969, homicide) Along with four friends, Roman Polanski's beautiful, eight-and-a-half-months-pregnant wife was brutally murdered by members of Charles Manson's "family."
10 of 10 Everett Collection


James Dean (Feb. 8, 1931 - Sept. 30, 1955, car accident) In Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden and Giant, Dean became a cultural icon; his love of racing fast cars led to his demise.