Celebrities Who Died on Road
What is it about a famous person dying in a car crash that strikes a chord with the general public? The idea of a larger-than-life individual being ripped from existence in such a sudden and violent manner weighs heavily on our psyches. Perhaps it’s because they died doing something most of us do every day. Maybe it’s the revelation that mortality has no boundaries. Or maybe it’s simply a reminder to us all that the cold hand of death is only an arm’s length away. From movie stars to royalty, the untimely demise of these famous individuals forever altered the history of pop culture. If you want to find out more famous people who died in traffic accidents, you can check here.
Member of the R&B group TLC, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was known for her colorful stage presence, including a controversial condom patch she wore over her left eye. However, nothing stunned fans more than her death on April 25, 2002, when the star’s rented SUV careened off a highway in La Ceiba, Honduras. Seven other people were in the vehicle with Lopes but none of them sustained life-threatening injuries. The 30 year-old’s death shocked and devastated the R&B world and ended the wildly successful run of a group that sold more than 21 million albums.
He was known for two things as a big league manager: turning laughable teams into competitors, and his fiery temper. Martin was World Series MVP in 1953, an All-Star in ’56 and led the Yankees to consecutive pennants in ’76 and ’77. But nothing could prepare baseball fans for his untimely death on Christmas Day in 1989. After a night of heavy drinking, the 61-year-old Martin was traveling home with his friend, William Reedy, when Reedy’s truck crashed, killing the former Yankees manager. The epitaph on Martin’s headstone reads: “I may not have been the greatest Yankee to put on the uniform but I was the proudest.”
Legendary track star Steve Prefontaine did what few others could: he made running cool. The 1970s phenom turned the collegiate track & field world upside down when he set numerous records with Oregon University. Unfortunately, Prefontaine couldn’t outrun fate when he died at the age of 24 in a car accident. On May 30, 1975, the Olympic hopeful was returning from a party when he swerved his MG convertible to avoid colliding with another car. Prefontaine’s car struck a stone wall and flipped, pinning the athlete underneath. His life story has been made into two feature films and a documentary.
As the last of the great playboys, Porfirio Rubirosa filled his days as a Dominican diplomat, polo player, and race-car driver. More importantly, he filled his nights with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Doris Duke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Barbara Hutton, and Eva Peron. Rumor has it that Rubirosa was reportedly so well-endowed that to this day, extra-long pepper mills in French bistros are called “Rubirosas.” Unfortunately, the larger-than-life ladies' man died on June 5, 1965, when his Ferrari crashed into a tree. The 56-year-old was returning home after an all-night party at a Paris nightclub.
He was the primary co-founder of the rock group The Allman Brothers Band. He is best remembered for his brief but influential tenure in that band, his expressive slide guitar playing and improvisational skills. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Allman at #2 in their list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, second only to Jimi Hendrix. He died in October 1971 in a road accident, while riding his Harley.
He turned the art world upside down with his “drip” style of painting, in which the artist flings, pours, and drips paint over a canvas. Supporters called him a genius, while some critics dubbed his style a “brainless” approach to creating decorative wallpaper. No matter how you view his work, the reclusive Jackson Pollock left a massive imprint on the art world. And his alcohol-related, single-car crash on August 11, 1956, in Springs, NY, solidified the 44-year-old’s iconic image. Since his death, he’s been the focal point of several movies and documentaries, not to mention the inspiration for generations of young artists.
General George S. Patton
Regarded as one of the most successful commanders of all time, Patton chased Pancho Villa in 1916, received the Distinguished Service Award and a Purple Heart during World War I and commanded the U.S. Third Army during WWII. In the end, a Cadillac did to Patton what entire armies failed to do. On December 9, 1945, the Cadillac that Patton was a passenger in collided with a truck in Germany. While the impact was minor, the 60-year-old general had hit his head on the metal partition between the front and back seats. Patton was rushed to a hospital but ended up dying of an embolism on December 21, 1945.
With astonishingly good looks and a vibrant personality, Jayne Mansfield was the embodiment of the American sex symbol during the 1950s. Having starred in numerous films during her career, she won the Golden Globe in 1957 for her role in The Wayward Bus. Mansfield was also known for her steamy love life, reportedly having had affairs with such high profile men as John and Robert Kennedy. Early on the morning of June 29, 1967, the 34-year-old beauty’s life was cut tragically short when the car she was riding in rear-ended a tractor-trailer. The blond star was killed instantly.
On the afternoon of Friday, September 30, 1955, the young Rebel Without a Cause star was driving his 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder to a race in Salinas, California. As he approached the intersection of U.S. Route 466 and State Route 41, just outside of Cholame, California, a 1950 Ford Tudor coupe driven by a 23-year-old college student crossed in front of Dean’s two-seater convertible. The resulting collision claimed the life of one of Hollywood’s most promising young stars. With only three major motion pictures to his name, James Dean's untimely death elevated him to cult status and forever sealed his iconic image.
Princess Grace Kelly
A beautiful actress and fashion icon, Kelly’s life was nothing short of a fairytale. She was one of Hollywood’s hottest stars in the 1950s, appearing in such films as Rear Window, and To Catch a Thief. After retiring from acting at the age of 26, the starlet married Prince Rainier III to become the Princess of Monaco. Unfortunately, there would be no happy ending to this fairytale. On September 13, 1982, Kelly was driving home to Monaco when she suffered a stroke and lost control of her car. She was critically injured and died a day later. She was 52 years old.
From the moment she entered into the royal spotlight by marrying Prince Charles in 1981, Princess Diana’s life was a whirlwind of media scrutiny. Known for being strong willed, independent and intensely devoted to her two children, Prince William and Prince Harry, Diana’s departure from the typical royal role was considered controversial by British standards. But it was her premature death at the age of 36 that captured the attention of the world. On August 31, 1997, the Princess and her companion, Dodi al-Fayed, died in Paris when the Mercedes they were riding in collided with a pillar while trying to evade paparazzi.