There is a common fear in Hollywood that if you’re making a film involving the devil, bad things will happen to you.
In 1968, Roman Polanksi directed “Rosemary’s Baby,” a film about Satan’s offspring. One year later, Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Charles Manson’s followers.
After 1973’s “The Exorcist” hit theatres, a film about the devil inhabiting the body of a little girl, a cameraman’s baby died suddenly, an actor who was killed in the movie died in real-life, and a night watchman perished, not to mention the movie set burned down.
1976’s “The Omen” is about a child who is the anti-Christ. After the film’s release, the designer’s assistant was cut in half in a car accident, the son of Gregory Peck — the film’s star — killed himself, a tiger handler for the film died in a peculiar accident, and other tales of IRA bombings and lightning strikes plagued the cast and crew.
Whether or not you believe in curses or magic, these is no doubt that the entertainment industry is full of superstition and some eerie stories surround movie making and supposed “cursed” films.
LEE: FATHER AND SON
Bruce Lee was the creator of the Jeet Kune Do martial art and was responsible for popularizing martial arts across the world.
Lee was around film sets his entire life. He acted in many movies and television shows, including TV’s “Green Hornet,” where he played Kato, but it wasn’t until 1973’s “Enter the Dragon” release that he became a mega-star.
It was in the same year that his biggest film was released that he was found dead with supposed brain swelling. Conspiracy theorists say that he was poisoned by the Chinese Triad gang or that he received the deadly “vibrating palm technique.”
Regardless, his death remains suspicious as he was mentally and physically fit. He was 32 at the time of his death.
His son, Brandon Lee, followed in his famous father’s footsteps, starring in several action pictures in the 90s. But it wasn’t until he was performing in his most-seen film, 1994’s “The Crow,” where the Lee family curse continued.
While filming a scene where another actor was set to shoot him with a gun, the dummy gun actually fired, shooting Lee in the stomach. The bullet lodged into his spine. A six-hour operation couldn’t save his life. He was dead at 28.
The Lee family legacy will remain intact through their unique albeit short-lived work. But movie audiences will always wonder what could have been if both men didn’t meet their fates in strange ways.
“Atuk” means grandfather in Inuit. It’s also the title of an unf
ilmed screenplay adapted from the 1963 novel “The Incomparable Atuk.”
The fish-out-of-water story is about an Inuit man adjusting to life in a big city.
John Belushi first read the role of Atuk and became
He was set to play the character on screen. Then, his untimely death in 1982 from a drug overdose killed the film’s production.
Years later, famous stand-up comedian Sam Kinison was offered to play Atuk in the film version. He accepted, and production was scheduled. He filmed one scene for the film, but production was stopped when Kinison demanded rewrites. Before production resumed, Kinison was killed in a car crash. This was 1988.
In 1994, while the wonderfully funny John Candy was reading the script, he had a heart attack and died shortly after.
Chris Farley read the script and was about to accept the role that his screen icon, John Belushi, was set to play. But on that cold December night in Chicago in 1997, Chris Farley died of a drug overdose, eerily similar to Belushi 15 years earlier.
The “Atuk” movie remains unmade, a heavy curse still hovering over the story.
THE LITTLE BASTARD
James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder was one of only 90. It was shiny silver and it could move. He nicknamed it “the Little Bastard.” It was in that car that he died after being struck and crushed on a California highway.
It was what happened after the accident that the curse lies.
Almost immediately after the wrecked vehicle was in the garage, it fell off a trailer and broke a mechanic’s leg.
The engine and drive train were both sold to racing hobbyists, both of whom were in major accidents while racing in vehicles using the parts. One of them died.
Two of the tires from the Porsche exploded simultaneous
ly while being used on another vehicle.
A fire mysteriously broke out in the garage that held the wreckage.
The driver of a truck that was hauling the vehicle was killed when the vehicle lost control. The driver fell out of the cab and “the Little Bastard” landed on him, killing him.
All of these things happened with the same car, the vehicle that took the life of one of Hollywood’s great actors.
George Reeves played Superman in the 1951 “Superman” film and the TV series “Adventures of Superman.” In 1959, only days before he was to be married, Reeves was found dead of a gunshot wound at his home. It was ruled a suicide, but questions remain.
Christopher Reeve played Superman in 1978’s “Superman: The Movie,” 1980’s “Superman II,” “Superman III” in 1983, and 1987’s “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.” Reeve was paralysed from the neck down after being thrown from his horse in an equestrian riding event in 1995. Reeve died in 2004 from heart failure as a result of his condition.
Margot Kidder played Lois Lane in the movies. She suffered from intense bipolar disorder. In 1996, she went missing for several days and was found by police in a paranoid, delusional state with her teeth missing.
Richard Pryor played a villain in “Superman III.” Three years later, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Marlon Brando played Jor-El, Superman’s father. His son, Christian, killed his sister, Cheyenne’s, lover. Cheyenne committed suicide years later because of the incident.
Lee Quigley played the baby Kal-El in 1978’s “Superman: The Movie.” He died tragically in 1991 at the age of 14 after inhaling chemical solvents.
The fates of the actors in the most recent Superman film have yet to be decided.
BILL BOB THORNTON
Quite plainly, if you work with Billy Bob Thornton, you
might die… or you might
be involved in a major car crash.
JT Walsh was one of Hollywood’s finest character actors, a great on-screen villain with piercing blue eyes and a great radio voice. Walsh starred in Thornton’s hit 1996 film “Sling Blade,” the picture that put Thornton on the map. Walsh died in 1998 of a heart attack.
John Ritter acted in a small role in “Sling Blade” and in 2003’s “Bad Santa.” He was one of Thornton’s good friends. Ritter died in 2003 from
an aortic dissection caused by a previously undiagnosed congenital heart defect.
Heath Ledger starred in “Monster’s Ball” with Thornton in 2001. He famously died of heart failure from taking a combination of sleeping pills and anti-depressants.
Patrick Swayze starred with Thornton in “Waking Up In Reno.” He died of pancreatic cancer.
Bernie Mac acted in “Bad Santa” with Thornton. He died of complications caused by pneumonia.
Natasha Richardson was also in “Waking Up In Reno.” She died from brain damage caused by a skiing accident.
There were two actors that were spared for whatever reason.
Shia LaBeouf and Billy Bob Thornton acted in “Eagle Eye.” LaBeouf was in a serious car accident that spared his life, but crushed his hand and arm causing hours of intensive surgery.
Morgan Freeman starred in “Levity” with Thornton, and he too was involved in a major car accident that left him with an injured arm and hand.
All of these curses are based on suspicious and undeniable facts. They are part of the Hollywood machine that’s almost impenetrable if not for a few odd mishaps and curious deaths along the way. The curse that haunts me the most is the deaths of those closest to Billy Bob Thornton. In my six years living in Los Angeles, I had the chance of meeting Mr. Thornton. It was at the Hollywood Walk of Fame Induction for Robert Duvall. Billy Bob was one of the speakers. I shook his hand and interviewed him. Come to think of it, the hand that shook him is sore now… and I’m feeling faint… Could it be…?