How the Lives and Careers of These 12 Celebs Were Shaped by Others’ Exits

Let me just put this out there: we love celebrities. Even if we love to hate them, it’s still a love of sorts for all their chaotic, paparazzi-filled, mayhem-inducing lives. Have you ever wondered who might have gotten a role if someone else hadn’t stepped aside, passed away, or exited a project?

It happens more often than you might think in the Hollywood world of actors, musicians, and other creatives. For instance, Rick Moranis got the role of the Keymaster in Ghostbusters (1984) because John Candy, who got the offer first, wanted to give the Keymaster a German accent, and director Ivan Reitman didn’t have it.

Because acting and music run in the same creative circles, this experience arises more often than you think. It’s also a sad truth that people die, and life doesn’t wait. So, for all those times someone’s life and career were impacted by another person’s timely exit, here are some of our favorites.

1. Kevin James

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When Adam Sandler was just getting started in movies, he was joining the likes of David Spade and the late Chris Farley. Now that he makes his movies under his Happy Madison studio, several contributors agreed that Chris Farley would have gotten the roles that consequently went to Kevin James. One bluntly said, “Kevin James got the roles that surely would’ve been Chris Farley’s in all of Sandler’s movies.”

2. Joaquin Phoenix

LOS ANGELES - DEC 10: Rain Phoenix, Joaquin Phoenix, Summer Phoenix at the "Inherent Vice" Los Angeles Premiere at the TCL Chinese Theater on December 10, 2014 in Los Angeles, CA
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Stand by Me (1986) was an iconic 80s movie that, to this day, is one parents share with their children generation after generation. It starred Will Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell, Corey Feldman, and River Phoenix. River had a younger brother, Joaquin, whom one commenter said, “I always got this feeling that he seriously pursued acting after River’s death as a way to be close to him, be with him, even to be like him in a way.”

3. Jennifer Lopez

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Before Jennifer Lopez became the pop diva she is, there was an up-and-coming Hispanic crossover artist named Selena Quintanilla Pérez. Unfortunately, she was murdered by her manager, Yolanda Saldivar, at age 23. One fan said about J. Lo’s rising star: “Twice a tragedy. On the one end, we lost Selena; on the other end, we got Jlo famous.”

4. Paul Newman

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Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Paul Newman was a charismatic extrovert compared to James Dean’s cooler, more reserved nature. It’s one reason Dean got the lead role in the film East of Eden (1955), based on John Steinbeck’s novel by the same name. It is one of many roles Newman would initially lose to Dean. In Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Dean was given the lead but died before filming, which opened the door for Newman to take the part. One person said, “I never realized what a Jason Segel-type Paul Newman was.”

5. Puff Daddy

Sean Combs Walt Disney Studios
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In 1997, Sean Combs, known as Puff Daddy and then Diddy, founded a record label, Bad Boy Records, and Biggie Smalls (The Notorious B.I.G.) rivaled Tupac Shakur. When Tupac died in 1996, Biggie became a suspect but had a confirmed alibi for the night of the shooting. Six months later, Biggie would also die in March 1997. One user thinks Biggie would have kept Puffy in check, saying, “The comparison I’ve always made is Puffy with Biggie were a constant risk of being #1. Puffy solo with Biggie alive was never going to be #1.”

6. Corey Feldman

Corey Feldman Columbia Pictures
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

In the 1980s, two boys named Corey were making names for themselves. Corey Feldman and Corey Haim were actors who starred in movies like The Goonies (1985), License to Drive (1988), and Dream a Little Dream (1989). They were great friends, according to Feldman, and several participants noted their connection. One said, “Corey Feldman’s career died when Corey Haim became an addict and stopped acting. They were a power duo.”

7. Richard Carpenter

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Richard Carpenter, who is reportedly exceptional on the piano, was steadily outshined by his sister Karen. Her voice, beauty, and overall musical talent quickly pushed aside his musical abilities as she became the center of their duet, The Carpenters. Unfortunately, Karen suffered from anorexia nervosa when eating disorders were virtually unheard of. At only 32, she died of heart failure. One fan had this to say, Karen. “I like watching videos on YouTube of younger people discovering her for the first time. Her talent transcends musical styles and generational differences.”

8. Chester Bennington

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Chester Bennington, the lead singer for the band Linkin Park, was the only artist to make this list that didn’t get a boost from someone else’s exit in the same field. However, he is no less important for how his life played out. He was so close friends with another musician, Chris Cornell, the lead singer for the bands Audioslave and Sound Garden, that after he took his own life, Chester couldn’t imagine a world without his friend. Chester chose to take his own life on what would have been his friend Chris’ 53rd birthday.

9. Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain MTV Video Awards
Photo Credit: MTV Video Awards

If you’ve heard of Nirvana, you’ll have heard of lead vocalist Kurt Cobain. You’ll also likely have heard that Cobain died, reportedly by taking his own life, in April 1994. At the time, his young daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, was just one and a half years old. Dave Grohl, who would go on to found The Foo Fighters, was first the drummer for Cobain’s Nirvana from 1990-1994. Several people felt Dave Grohl would still be the drummer behind Cobain had he lived. “I might be biased because I’m a huge fan, but The Foo Fighters wouldn’t be a thing if it weren’t for the passing of Kurt Cobain.”

10. Charlie Puth

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Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Puth, a singer/songwriter, got his start by uploading videos to YouTube and signed with Atlantic Recording Corporation after a performance on The Ellen Degeneres Show. When Paul Walker died in 2013, Puth wrote and performed the song “See You Again” with Whiz Kalifa for the Furious 7 soundtrack. Many respondents felt Charlie Puth’s big boost came from this song, written about the friendship between Paul Walker and his Fast and Furious co-stars, especially Vin Diesel, after his death. “Charlie has only done well off leveraging others.”

11. Chris Benoit

Chris Benoit MTV Productions
Photo Credit: WWE

Benoit and Guerrero, both part of World Wrestling Entertainment, became fast friends when Benoit knocked out Guerrero with a kick to the head. However, their friendship wouldn’t last as Guerrero died of heart failure in 2005. Benoit’s oldest son, David, believes Guerrero’s death affected his father greatly. In 2007, Benoit murdered his wife Nancy and their seven-year-old son Daniel before taking his own life. As one fan said, “Talk about traumatizing; I remember being emotional watching it before all the details came out. My ex-husband is a huge wrestling fan, and I remember him being particularly emotional. It was all so sad.”

12. Jim Belushi

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Jim Belushi has been a comedic actor since 1977, behind his older brother, John. John, who starred in comedy gems like Animal House and Saturday Night Live, died from a drug overdose. His death massively impacted his younger brother Jim, whom one commenter said, “Jim Belushi would never have become the celeb he did had John not been his brother.”

Best of the Best

When it comes to actors, musicians, and artists we love, we don’t always make the connection to who stepped out of life that gave them the rite of passage to success that they might not have had if their friend or sibling had lived. For those of us who still mourn the deaths of our favorite actors, musicians, and artists, here’s to the silver lining of memories, laughter, and love we’ll carry with us always.

Source: Reddit, YouTube, E! News, NY Post, Grunge.

10 Hilarious Lightweight Comedies About Rich People

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Get ready to dive into a world of luxury, laughter, and extravagant antics. We’re taking you on a whirlwind tour of ten sidesplitting lightweight comedies that revolve around the lives of the exceptionally wealthy. Having a lot of money can lead to plenty of absurd situations, and where there’s absurdity, there’s hilarity. From Crazy Rich Asians to Ruthless People, these ten films about rich people are perfect for a hilarious light viewing that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

10 Popular Movies With Perfect Endings Ruined by Lame Sequels

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When a movie becomes fans’ favorite, it’s not unusual to see filmmakers wanting to further explore its captivating storylines through sequels that may sometimes be below par. Lackluster follow-ups have been the death of perfect cinematic delivery in recent times, and a group of cineasts considers these popular movies ruined by successors that should never have been produced.

10 TV Shows People Wish They Could Watch for the First Time Again

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It feels like the first time. It feels like the very first time (I watched The Sopranos). As you endlessly scroll through the streaming verse of mediocre shows you know will leave you disappointed, why not fantasize about those shows that made you feel things you didn’t see a TV show could make you feel?

10 Actors and Actresses People Watch No Matter What They Star In

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Great actors progress through stages. Early in their careers, fans catch a glimpse of the talent and, each time they see the actor in a new role, realize that the talent is no fluke. Once the actor has built a long enough resume, the great ones enter must-see-at-all-costs territory. These actors and actresses have achieved near cult-leader status, and boy, have they earned it.

10 Movies Everyone Should See at Least Once in Their Lifetime

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If you haven’t seen these movies, what are you waiting for? You won’t find any hidden gems on this list; you may have already seen most of them. If there are any on this list that you still need to see, bump them up your watchlist. These are bucket-list movies you can’t possibly justify leaving unwatched.

This article was initially published and syndicated by The Cents of Money.

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