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15 Celebrities with Tragic Lives

Kelsey Grammer

Beloved Frasier and Cheers actor and comedian had a tougher life than you would think when you see him perform. In the 60s, his 13-year-old sister was kidnapped, raped and murdered. Kelsey had to identify her body. He was wracked with guilt and depression for years. This got worse when his two half-brothers both died whilst scuba diving. Then, a few decades later, a good friend of his perished while flying on one of the hijacked 9/11 flights. He is healthy now, but his road to get there was long and difficult.

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Charlize Theron

Every role that Charlize Theron touches is fantastic, but she wasn’t always blessed with success. Her life was hard. As a teenager, she watched as her mother shot and killed her drunken father in an act of self-defense. Then, she moved away to pursue a promising career in dancing. She promptly injured herself and shut that door. She ended up getting so broke she had to scavenge for thrown-out bread at bars. When her mother finally sent her a check, the local bank rejected it.

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Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando did a lot for the world. Yes, he revolutionized the entertainment industry, but he also was active in 20th century civil-rights movements. Sadly, in 1990, his pregnant daughter Cheyenne’s boyfriend was murdered by his son Christian. His daughter’s mental state deteriorated until she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, lost custody of her young son, and eventually succeeded in committing suicide.

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John F. Kennedy Jr.

We know that President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. That was rough on the nation, but also on his son John F. Kennedy, Jr. Sadly, JFK Jr.’s difficult life was only just beginning. His uncle Robert Kennedy was assassinated 5 years later in 1968. 6 years after that, in 1974, his cousin David Kennedy overdosed. Fifteen years after that, in 1997, JFK Jr. lost another cousin, Michael Kennedy, in a skiing accident before Michael even turned 40. Two years later, in 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn Jeanne Bessette, and his sister-in-law Lauren Bessette died in a plane crash.

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Jennifer Hudson

American Idol star and actress Jennifer Hudson experienced a lot of pain all at once, and it makes it difficult for her to relate to people. Her estranged brother-in-law shot and killed her mother, brother, and young nephew. William Balfour, the killer, was given three life sentences, but that did nothing to fill the hole in her heart. Ever the good Samaritan, she used this to help out people in similar situations. 

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Eminem

Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, lets all of his anger and despair show in his work. He was raised in the Detroit projects by a mentally unstable mother. Smaller than other children his age, 9-year-old Mathers was beaten by a bully so badly that he was in a coma for 10 days. In his teenage years, his best friend and uncle, who was two months older than Mathers, committed suicide. Later in life, he’d go through a terrible cycle of divorce, marriage, and remarriage with Kim Scott. He wrote about his mother and his ex-wife in his music, and his mother took him to court over it. Seven years later, a friend he had had since high school was murdered. There’s a reason Eminem’s music is so intense.

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Keanu Reeves

The internet is full of Sad Keanu memes, and it's easy to understand why Keanu Reeves might be sad. His father abandoned his family when he was a boy. His good friend River Phoenix overdosed. A few years later, things looked good when he fell in love with Jennifer Syme. They quickly became pregnant. Then, the baby was born stillborn, their relationship crumbled, and Syme died in a car accident. He has a million heartbreaking quotes, but this one sums up his life: “Grief changes shape, but it never ends.”

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Marilyn Monroe

Over 50 years after her day, Marilyn Monroe continues to be a cultural icon. She had to work hard to get away from the trauma of her youth, though. When her single mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, she was put in foster care. She bounced from home to home, eventually marrying at age 16 to get out of the system. The marriage did not last. She had a series of bad marriages, all under heavy scrutiny by the media. She eventually turned to drugs to escape her pain, leading to her overdose and death in 1962.

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Shania Twain

The Queen of Country Pop music was not born into royalty. After her parents divorced in Twain’s early childhood, her mother remarried. Her family adopted her orphaned cousin, making it hard for her parents to put food on the table for seven people. Her mother wrestled with depression. Her father was abusive. As early as 8 years old, Twain sang at bars to help provide for the family. After her parents died when she was 22, she had to take care of all of her siblings all by herself.

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Oprah Winfrey

Like many people, Oprah was born to a single, teenage mother. Oprah ended up living with her grandmother during her earliest years before moving back in with her mother. There, while her mother was away working long hours, she was repeatedly molested. She was pregnant at 14, but her son died in infancy. Eventually, she moved in with her father, and her life moved in a more positive direction.

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Stephen Colbert

TV host and comedian Stephen Colbert spent a large part of his life recovering from a traumatic loss in his youth. When he was just ten years old, his father and the two brothers closest to his age all perished in a plane crash. He was detached for a while afterwards, couldn’t make friends in school, and claims he didn’t come to grips with the event until he was 35.

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TV host and comedian Stephen Colbert spent a large part of his life recovering from a traumatic loss in his youth. When he was just ten years old, his father and the two brothers closest two his age all perished in a plane crash. He was detached for a while afterwards, couldn’t make friends in school, and claims he didn’t come to grips with the event until he was 35.

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Michael Jordan

It may look like Michael Jordan had the easy life, what with his wealth and basketball success, but it came at a cost. In 1993, his father was carjacked, murdered, and left in a South Carolina swamp for a week and a half. The incident rocked Jordan’s world, and he retired from basketball for a few years. 

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Patrick Duffy

Actor Patrick Duffy may have made it to the big screen, but he started off in the middle of nowhere. He was raised by two bar owners in Montana. It was a peaceful upbringing that should have led to quiet visits the holidays. Sadly, both his parents were killed in an armed robbery of their bar.

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Ingrid Bergman

Classic Hollywood icon Ingrid Bergman always knew she wanted to be an actress. She loved dressing up in her mother’s clothes and playacting from an early age. Sadly, her mother never saw these productions. Ingrid’s mother died when Ingrid was 2. By the time Ingrid was 13, her father would die as well. She went to live with her aunt, but that only lasted six months. Her aunt passed away from heart disease, and Ingrid moved in with other relatives. Tragedy stopped following her then, but she was still haunted by the many losses from her youth.

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Joaquin Phoenix

At 19, Joaquin Phoenix had already established himself as a great actor. He was in the spotlight when his brother River overdosed on drugs. Joaquin made the call to 911 while he watched his brother die. As if that wasn’t traumatic enough, the call was repeatedly played on radio and television. This lead Joaquin to hide from the public for a year.

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