11 People Who Died While Performing

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Updated on 10 Apr, 2016 at 9:42 pm


Topyaps explores ten performers who lived their lives in the public stare and also died very publicly too. Some of them died on stage and some while being filmed or on a film set.

11. Irma Bule (died April 4, 2016):

Irma Bule was an Indonesian pop singer who used snakes, mostly pythons and boa constrictors, during her performances. She was quite popular for her snake dance moves before she tragically died after being bitten during a performance at a village in West Java. The organizers had provided a king cobra for Bule but had neither taped its mouth shut nor defanged it. The snake bit Bule, who didn’t realize the seriousness of the matter, refused to take antivenom and kept performing. She collapsed on stage 45 minutes after being bitten and died shortly after.


10. Karl Wallenda (January 21, 1905 – March 22, 1978):

Founder of The Flying Wallenda, Karl was worldwide popular for performing daredevil circus acts, without using safety elements. In 1978, Karl was walking on a wire, connected with two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in Puerto Rico and which was 121 ft. above from the ground. During his walk on the wire of 37 meters, Karl lost his balance due to sudden change in the speed of wind and he fell to his tragic death. Obviously, death aims only once but never misses.


9. Tyrone Power (May 5, 1914 – November 15, 1958):

One of the most popular American film and stage actor of 1930s to 1950s, Power was majorly adored in the cinematic world for his classic looks and romantic comedy. On May 7, 1958, he married Deborah Minardos and in September of the very same year, Power went Madrid for the shooting of “Solomon and Sheba” where he was accompanied by his wife. On November 15, while shooting a fight scene for the movie, he died due to a heart attack.


8. Vic Morrow (February 14, 1929 – July 23, 1982):

Victor “Vic” Morrow was a famous television actor of America and was also popular for his short roles in Hollywood movies. On July 23, 1982, Vic was busy in his shooting for “Twilight Zone: The Movie”, when a stunt helicopter crashed on him due to pyrotechnic explosions. Vic was beheaded along with two child actors of age 6 and 7 in this heart wrenching incident.


7. William Ellsworth Robinson (1861 – 1918):

Better known by his nickname Chung Ling Soo, Robinson was an American stage magician who preserved his role as a Chinese man religiously. On March 23, 1918, he was performing in the Wood Green Empire, London, where tragically his “bullet catch” trick went wrong and he died instantaneously due to severe injuries in chest.


6. Brandon Lee (February 1, 1965 – March 31, 1993):


A martial artist by profession, Brandon Lee was the son of legendary actor Bruce Lee. After an anticipating start in action movies by signing a contract with 20th Century Fox, Brandon was unintentionally shot dead on March 31, 1993, while filming “The Crow.” In a scene, the villain was supposed to fire on Lee but due to some malfunctions, dummy cartridge was  filled by propellants which struck Lee in his abdomen. Lee was instantly rushed to the nearest hospital but after six-hour of operation, he was pronounced dead. Lee was only 28 years old at the time of his death.


5. Roy Kinnear (January 8, 1934 – September 20, 1988):

Famous British comic actor, Roy Kinnear was injured on September 19, 1988, after falling from a horse during the shooting of “The Return of the Musketeers.” However, he sustained a broken pelvis but the next day, he died from a heart attack. In 1994, his daughter Karina, founded the Roy Kinnear Trust, which works for the betterment of adults, suffering from mental and physical disabilities.


4. Sid James (May 8, 1913 – April 26, 1976):

Well known for his lustful character and dirty laugh in movies, Sid was the significant figure of “Carry On”, a long-running series of British comedy films. On April 26, 1976, James suffered a heart attack while acting on the stage of Sunderland Empire Theatre and died. Audience were unaware of the current happening and they were still thinking that this act was a part of the show.


3. Steve Irwin (February 22, 1962 – September 4, 2006):

Better known as “The Crocodile Hunter”, Steve was an Australian wildlife expert, television personality and conservationist. While filming his documentary, Ocean’s Deadliest’s in Queensland, Irwin’s chest was fatally perforated by a stingray spine. Despite the best efforts of medical staff, Steve was declared dead due to non-survivable injuries.


2. Les Harvey (September 13, 1944 – May 3, 1972):

One of the most notable guitarist of musical arena and co-founder of the famous band Stone the Crows, Harvey was killed in Wales, during a stage show of his own band. While performing, he was electrocuted by touching a microphone with his wet hands, which was not earth grounded.


1. Tommy Cooper (March 19, 1921 – April 15, 1984):

A booming British magician and comedian, Cooper collapsed from a heart attack in front of millions of television viewers, midway through his act on the London Weekend Television variety show Live From Her Majesty’s. While the show continued, efforts were being made backstage to revive Cooper, not made easier by the darkness. It was not until a second commercial break that ambulancemen were able to move his body to Westminster Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.