According to the CDC, drug overdose has been steadily on the rise since 1992. But, when the sudden and senseless demise involves a mother, the pain endures far beyond her death and touches the children that are left behind. Below are 10 celebrity moms whose lives were cut tragically short, due to drugs.
1. Dinah Washington (1963) – The American singer and pianist, who has been cited as “the most popular black female recording artist of the ’50s” was 39 when she died of a Secobarbital and Amobarbital overdose. She left behind two young sons, George Kenneth Jenkins and Robert Grayson, who were around 12 and 13 at the time.
2. Dorothy Dandridge (1965) – At 42, the singer/actress, who was the first African American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, accidentally overdosed on the antidepressant, Imipramine. She left behind a 23-year-old daughter, Harolyn Suzanne Nicholas, who had the misfortune of being born brain-damaged.
3. Judy Garland (1969) – At the age of 47, the Wizard of Oz actress died of Secobarbital overdose. Her death certificate states it was accidental, however, there is speculation it was intentional. She left behind a legend in the making, daughter Liza Minnelli, who was 24 at the time.
4. Pier Angeli (1971) – The troubled, Italian-born television and film actress made her American cinematic debut in the starring role of the 1951 film Teresa, for which she won a Golden Globe Award. Twenty years later, she had been chosen to play a part in The Godfather, but died from an accidental Barbiturate overdose before filming began. She was 39 and left behind two sons, Perry and Andrew who were 17 and 9 at the time.
5. Donyale Luna (1979) – Luna became the first African-American model to appear on the cover of British Vogue. She died from an overdose of an unspecified drug. She was 33 and left behind her 18-month old daughter, Dream.
6. Vivien Merchant (1982) – Merchant was an English actress best known for her performance in Alfie, which earned her an Academy Award and Golden Globe nomination. Merchant became depressed after she and her husband, Harold Pinter, divorced in 1980. Drinking became her form of relief, and she died of acute alcoholism at age 53. She left behind a son who was almost 30 at the time.
7. Dana Plato (1999) – Plato will always be remembered as Kimberly Drummond, the perky daughter on the hit TV show, Different Strokes. Her tragic life ended at 34 when she overdosed on Vanadom (Soma) and Lortab. Her death was ruled a suicide. She left behind a son, Tyler Edward, who was 14 when she passed away. Sadly, Tyler died at the age of 25 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
8. Anna Nicole Smith (2007) – Anna Nicole Smith overdosed on prescription drugs and died in a hotel room in Florida. In the months leading up to her death, Smith was the focus of renewed press coverage surrounding the death of her son, Daniel who had died a year before. She also left behind her newborn daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead.
9. Whitney Houston (2012) – The world was shocked by the sudden death of one of the most well-respected and beloved singers of our time. At the age of 48, Houston died of an accidental drowning, due to drug use. Toxicology reports showed the presence of cocaine, as well as Benadryl, Flexeril, and Xanax. Whitney left behind her 19-year-old daughter, Bobbie Kristina.
10. Peaches Geldof (2014) – TV personality Peaches Geldof died of a heroin overdose and our hearts were in mourning for the 25-year-old’s 11-month-old son, who was left in his mom’s care at the time of her death.