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Five Mysterious Hollywood Deaths

Even as Los Angeles coroner's officials work to positively ID what are believed to be mummified remains of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman star Yvette Vickers, questions remain: What happened? Why did it take a year for the body to be found? Wasn't anyone looking for the actress?
/ Source: E!online

Even as Los Angeles coroner's officials work to positively ID what are believed to be mummified remains of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman star Yvette Vickers, questions remain: What happened? Why did it take a year for the body to be found? Wasn't anyone looking for the actress?

In this piece first published in the wake of Gary Coleman's " strange death," we look at at five other Hollywood passings that provoked debate, whether their cases were ever closed--or not:

RELATED: Who was Yvette Vickers?

George Reeves: The death of TV's Superman is one of those Hollywood deaths that, like that of Natalie Wood, is considered anything but unexplained in the official police record. In Reeves' case, authorities judged that Reeves, despondent over his stalled career, died June 16, 1959, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Reeves' mother disputed the suicide ruling and launched her own investigation. The 1996 book Hollywood Kryptonite made the case that Reeves' well-connected ex-lover, Toni Mannix, order a hit on Reeves. The 2006 Ben Affleck film Hollywoodland decided on being undecided.

Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls: The rap giants were slain by drive-by gunfire less than six months apart--Shakur in September 1996 in Las Vegas; Smalls in March 1997 in Los Angeles. Conspiracy theories about who was behind the respective murders outnumber the police-identified suspects, by about a million to zero. No arrests have yet been made in connection with either shooting.

Bob Crane: On June 29, 1978, the 1960s sitcom star (Hogan's Heroes) was found bludgeoned in his Scottsdale, Ariz., apartment. And while Crane's friend, John Henry Carpenter, fell under immediate suspicion, an arrest did not follow until 1992. A jury acquitted Carpenter of murder charges in 1994; Paul Schrader's 2002 biopic, Auto Focus, starring Greg Kinnear, reached a different verdict. Carpenter died in 1998. "I think John Carpenter was the kind of guy that had a secret, and he took it to his grave with him," a police investigator told the Arizona Republic.

Heath Ledger: The Oscar winner's death at age 28 is, on one hand, cut-and-dry. His Jan. 22, 2008, passing at his New York apartment was ruled an accidental prescription-drug overdose. But the toxicology findings did not answer the ultimate question: Why? As in similar tragedies, the answer is one that we can never really know.

Bruce Lee: The martial artist's shocking, sudden death on July 20, 1973, was not going to be easy to explain. Lee was, after all, so fit, so vital and so young--just 32. Any number of theories abounded, including marijuana-induced brain swelling. Following an inquest, coroner officials in Hong Kong settled on death by " misadventure," meaning accident and/or a possible bad reaction to headache medicine. The official story did not quell talk of everything from a conspiracy to a curse. The tragic, on-set 1993 death of Lee's actor son, Brandon Lee, at age 28, provided ample fuel for the latter.

(Originally published June 4, 2010, at 6:20 a.m. PT)

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