6 Celebrities Who Died From Painkiller ODs
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman died on Feb. 2, possibly from an overdose of heroin, though autopsy. The accomplished actor said he had given up drugs and alcohol years ago, at just 22 years old. As his friend Seth Mnookin wrote on Slate, "... one day in 2012, he began popping prescription pain pills. And now he's dead." Hoffman's is only the latest in a growing list of celebrity deaths in which painkillers were implicated.
Anna Nicole Smith: Vicodin and Other Drugs
In spring 2007, America lost the extravagant, flashy TV personality Anna Nicole Smith. The former Playboy centerfold model was famous for her sexy Guess jeans ads and even more so for her legal battle over the estate of her husband, J. Howard Marshall, an octogenarian multimillionaire who died in 1995. Her body was found in a hotel room in Florida, and she was found to have died from an overdose of painkillers, including the sedative choral hydrate. (Her son, Daniel Smith, died in 2006 of a drug overdose, at the age of 20.)
Bruce Lee: Equagesic Allergy
America's favorite kung fu master died at the age of 32 after supposedly suffering an allergic reaction to the painkiller Equagesic. The scuttlebutt on the Internet is that Lee was "killed by a group of kung fu experts who resented the actor for exposing their 'trade secrets' to the world." But according to a 1998 Los Angeles Times op-ed by his widow, Linda Lee Cadwell, Bruce died from cerebral edema after taking the painkillers, which he had been prescribed by his doctor.
Chris Penn: Codeine and Other Drugs
A star of movies like "Reservoir Dogs," "Rush Hour" and "Starsky and Hutch," actor Chris Penn (brother of Sean Penn) died after taking multiple medications, including the painkiller codeine. The main cause of death was a chronic condition called cardiomegaly, which means he had an enlarged heart. "Penn's heart weighed 700 grams, a few hundred grams heavier than the average heart," according to the BBC.
Elvis Presley: Quaaludes, Codeine and More
Elvis Presley was found unconscious in his home in Memphis, Tenn., on Aug. 16, 1977, and died soon after at Baptist Memorial Hospital. Presley rocked the world with his crooning lyrics and pelvic thrusts, but he had a history of abusing prescription painkillers, and was known to take narcotic shots and pain medication usually prescribed for terminal cancer patients. After death, toxicologists found Valmid, Quaaludes, codeine, Placidyl and phenobarbitol in his system.
Heath Ledger: Oxycodone and Other Drugs
On Jan. 22, 2008, a prescription drug overdose killed Heath Ledger, according to Today.com. Beloved for his roles in classics like "A Knight's Tale" and "10 Things I Hate About You," the 28-year-old actor died after ingesting drugs including oxycodone and Percocet. Two of his doctors were questioned in the ensuing investigation, but his death was eventually ruled an accident.