10 Movie Dedications to Lost Stars
Earlier this week, SXSW festival-goers were treated to a sneak peek of Furious 7, the latest installment in the Fast & Furious franchise, which is set to hit theaters on April 3rd. Those lucky enough to snag a ticket to the surprise screening also had the chance to see its emotional tribute to star Paul Walker, who was killed in a car accident on November 30, 2013, halfway through the filming of the movie. The dedication is a simple one, and occurs at the movie's conclusion: "For Paul."
Over the years, many stars have passed away before the release of what would end up being their final film, yet few have been memorialized in the credits. Here are 10 actors who have been.
1. HEATH LEDGER // THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)
Heath Ledger won more than 30 awards for his portrayal of the Joker, including the Oscar, but he never had the chance to accept any of them: He died of an accidental prescription drug overdose before the film's release. He was in the midst of filming The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus when he passed away (Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law all pitched in to complete his work on that film) but it is The Dark Knight which will forever be remembered as Ledger's most iconic role. The credits read: “In memory of our friends Heath Ledger and Conway Wickliffe.” Wickliffe was a special effects technician who was killed during a test scene for a car chase.
2. NATALIE WOOD // BRAINSTORM (1983)
If you sit through all of the credits of this somewhat overlooked sci-fi thriller, the message “To Natalie” appears at the end. Natalie Wood drowned almost two years before the movie’s release. Wood's husband, actor Robert Wagner, and her Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken were both present at the time of the accident, which has led many to wonder whether it was even an accident at all. In 2013, the Los Angeles coroner actually reclassified the case, and a series of new interviews about that night were conducted.
3. JOHN RITTER // BAD SANTA (2003)
Beloved comedic actor John Ritter died following heart surgery on September 11, 2003, a few days before his 55th birthday and two months before the release of Bad Santa, in which he played mall manager Bob Chipeska. Credits read: “In loving memory of John Ritter." Ritter’s hugely successful career included the television sitcoms Three’s Company, Hooperman, and 8 Simple Rules.
4. BRANDON LEE // THE CROW (1994)
Everyone believed they could spot the exact moment in The Crow where star Brandon Lee, son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, was shot and killed. In reality, the footage was used in legal proceedings and then destroyed. Remaining scenes for Lee’s character used digital compositions, special lighting effects, and body doubles. The movie’s dedication is to "Brandon and Eliza," Eliza being Eliza Hutton, Lee's fiancée; the couple was set to marry less than two weeks after filming wrapped.
5. AALIYAH HAUGHTON // QUEEN OF THE DAMNED (2002)
R&B singer Aaliyah Haughton was on the cusp of movie stardom. Her first movie, Romeo Must Die, paired her with action star Jet Li. In this, her second movie, she was cast as Anne Rice’s Queen of the Vampires. Sadly, in 2001, Aaliyah was killed when her plane crashed shortly after takeoff in the Bahamas. Queen of the Damned is dedicated to “Aaliyah Dana Haughton 1979-2001."
6. TUPAC SHAKUR // GRIDLOCK'D (1997)
British actor Tim Roth and hip-hop star Tupac Shakur appeared in this drama about two friends trying to get clean following a friend's overdose. Although Tupac had acted before, it was widely believed that his role in Gridlock'd would be the one to catapult him to major acting success. Just a few months before the film was released, Tupac was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. The credits for Gridlock’d feature the dedication: “For Tupac 'One Love' R.I.P."
7. MARTY FELDMAN // YELLOWBEARD (1983)
Comedic star Marty Feldman died of a heart attack during the making of this comedy in Mexico. Ironically, he died the very day he was scheduled to film his final scene for the movie—his death scene. The credits simply state “For Marty."
8. PHIL HARTMAN // SMALL SOLDIERS (1998)
Comedian Phil Hartman was best known for his work on SNL and as the voice of Troy McClure on The Simpsons. On May 28, 1998, while he was sleeping, Hartman's wife Brynn tragically shot and killed the comedian before turning the gun on herself. At the end of Small Soldiers a short clip of Hartman is shown, followed by the dedication “For Phil."
9. MATTHEW MCGRORY // THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (2005)
Although Matthew McGrory (Tiny) was alive for the theatrical release of this Rob Zombie picture, the seven-foot-six-inch actor died from natural causes just a few weeks later. The credits were adjusted for the DVD release, with the insertion of “In Memory of Matthew McGrory."
10. RAUL JULIA // STREET FIGHTER (1994)
During his nearly 30-year career, Raul Julia was nominated for four Golden Globes (winning one of them), appeared in the critically acclaimed Kiss of the Spider Woman, and played the hugely popular Gomez Addams. Yet he died of complications from a stroke as this box office bomb was being completed. Perhaps the saddest part of the movie is reading, at the end, “For Raul, Vaya Con Dios."