List of films released posthumously

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The following is a list of films released posthumously involving major cast or crew members who either died during production or before the film's release.




Composers and lyricists[edit]

Actors and actresses[edit]

In several cases, actors or actresses have died prior to the release of a film: either during filming or after it has been completed, but is yet to be released. In the case that the actor dies during filming, their scenes are often completed by stunt doubles, or through special effects. Only people who actually appear in some capacity in a posthumously released film are listed here. Those who were scheduled to start a project, but died before filming began, are not included.


  • A Dash Through the Clouds (1912), released just twenty-three days after aviator and actor Philip Orin Parmelee's death in a plane crash; he was piloting an airplane at an air show in Yakima, Washington, on June 1, 1912, at altitudes variously described from 400 to 2,000 feet, when air turbulence flipped over his airplane and caused it to crash, killing him instantly.[15][16]
  • A Woman's Way (1913), In the Haunts of Fear (1913), and The Blight (1913), all released after Joseph Graybill's death at the age of 26—strangely, different records state conflicting information as to the cause of Graybill's death; the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) lists it as acute spinal meningitis,[17] and the first death notice in the New York Times contradicts the death certificate as to the day of death—it lists the cause of death on August 2, not the 3, as a nervous breakdown[18]—but an obituary on August 4 lists the cause as gastritis.[19] Contradicting all of these, a 1913 Motion Picture Story magazine article states that he had a "nervous disorder of the optic nerve and died". Finally, Graybill's death certificate states that the cause of death was acute pachymeningitis and a contributory factor was alcohol poisoning; both the certificate and the first death notice note he entered Bellevue Hospital on July 24.[20]
  • Across the Border (1914), released over a month after Grace McHugh's death during filming; while on location on the Arkansas River in Colorado, re-shooting a scene of McHugh fording the river on horseback, her horse lost its footing, and the actress was thrown into the swift current. Cinematographer Owen Carter stopped filming and plunged into the river to save her; together they succeeded in reaching a sandbar, which unfortunately proved to be quicksand, and they both drowned. Shooting of the picture was otherwise complete, and the film was released with the majority of Grace McHugh's work intact.
  • The Great Romance (1919), Shadows of Suspicion (1919), and A Man of Honor (1919), all released after Harold Lockwood's death in the 1918 flu pandemic; because he died before filming on Shadows of Suspicion was completed, changes were made to the script, and the film was completed using a double shot from behind to stand in for Lockwood.
  • The Lone Star Ranger (1919), Wolves of the Night (1919), The Last of the Duanes (1919), and The Spite Bride (1919), all released after Lamar Johnstone's sudden death at age 34 from heart disease.
  • Paid in Advance (1919), released six days after William Stowell's death in a train accident, while scouting locations for Universal in the Belgian Congo.


  • The Skywayman (1920), released just over a month after daredevil stunt flier and actor Ormer Locklear's death on the last day of filming; while shooting the finale by night, Locklear had to dive the plane, carrying himself and co-pilot Milton 'Skeets' Elliott, towards some oil derricks and appear to crash it. He forewarned the lighting crew to douse their lights when he got near the derricks, so that he could see to pull out of the dive; the lights remained full on, blinding him, and he crashed. The finished film showed this crash, and its aftermath, in gruesome detail.
  • Everybody's Sweetheart (1920), released less than a month after Olive Thomas' death, at the age of 25; on the night of September 5, 1920, Thomas and her husband, Jack Pickford, went out for a night of entertainment and partying at the famous bistros in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris. Returning to their room in the Hotel Ritz around 3:00 am, Pickford either fell asleep or was outside the room for a final round of drugs. An intoxicated and tired Thomas accidentally ingested a large dose of a mercury bichloride liquid solution, which had been prescribed for her husband's chronic syphilis. Being liquid, it was supposed to be applied topically, not ingested.[21] She had either thought the flask contained drinking water or sleeping pills; accounts vary. The label was in French, which may have added to the confusion. She screamed, "Oh, my God!", and Pickford ran to pick her up in his arms; however, it was too late, as she had already ingested a lethal dose.[22] She was taken to the American Hospital in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, where she succumbed to the poison a few days later.
  • Coincidence (1921), released a year after Robert Harron's suicide; he fatally shot himself in the left lung with a revolver due to disappointment that director and mentor D.W. Griffith had passed him over for the starring role in Way Down East.
  • Foolish Wives (1922), released almost a year after Rudolph Christians' death from pneumonia; the German actor, father of Austrian stage and screen actress Mady Christians, was playing the central part of the cuckolded American envoy in Erich von Stroheim's film. As Christians died in the middle of production, von Stroheim was forced to bring in actor Robert Edeson (back to camera) to finish Christians' scenes.
  • Wildness of Youth (1922), released nearly two months after child star Bobby Connelly's death from bronchitis, brought on by a years-long battle with endocarditis and worsened by a heavy work schedule; Connelly was 13 years old.[23]
  • The Warrens of Virginia (1924), almost a year after actress Martha Mansfield's death at the age of 24; on November 30, 1923, while working on the film on location in San Antonio, Texas, Mansfield was severely burned when a match, tossed by a cast member, ignited her Civil War costume of hoopskirts and flimsy ruffles. Mansfield was playing the role of Agatha Warren and had just finished her scenes and retired to a car when her clothing burst into flames. Her neck and face were saved when leading man Wilfred Lytell threw his heavy overcoat over her. The chauffeur of Mansfield's car was burned badly on his hands while trying to remove the burning clothing from the actress. The fire was put out, but she sustained substantial burns to her body. She was rushed to a Physicians and Surgeons Hospital in San Antonio, where she died in less than twenty-four hours; however, most of Mansfield's scenes had already been shot, so production on the film continued.
  • Greed (1924), released nearly a year after Frank Hayes' death from pneumonia.
  • The Son of the Sheik (1926), was publicly released a month following Rudolph Valentino's death from peritonitis, although the premiere was a month prior to Valentino's death.
  • King of the Pack (1926), released nearly four months after canine actor Peter the Great's death while protecting his master; an argument had broken out between owner Edward Faust and a friend of Faust's, culminating with Faust running back to his car while the friend came out of his house with a rifle—in the process, Peter leapt up to protect his master, and was shot in the neck, lingering for three more days before dying.
  • The First Auto (1927). Charles Emmett Mack died when a wagon struck his car broadside as he was driving to work. His co-star, Patsy Ruth Miller, had declined a ride because she was not needed for filming until later.
  • The Wedding March (1928), released a year after the deaths of both George Nichols and Hughie Mack.
  • Two Masters (1928), released nearly a month after Rex Cherryman's death from septic poisoning, which he contracted while sailing to France to read for a play in Paris; he died in Le Havre, France at age 31.
  • The Rush Hour (1928), released almost five months after Ward Crane's death from pneumonia, following an attack of pleurisy that sent him to a rest cure lodge at Saranac Lake, New York.
  • Show Boat (1929), released over three months after Ralph Yearsley's suicide.
  • The Hottentot (1929), The Argyle Case (1929), and The Drake Case (1929), all released after Gladys Brockwell's death in an automobile accident; the car, driven by her friend Thomas Brennan, went over an 75-foot (23 m) embankment on the Ventura Highway near Calabasas, and Brockwell, the passenger, ended up crushed beneath it. Brennan later said that a bit of dust had blown into his eye before the accident, temporarily blinding him. Seriously injured, Brockwell died a few days later in a Hollywood hospital from peritonitis; Brennan eventually recovered from his own injuries.


  • The Way of All Men (1930), released just over three months after Anders Randolf's relapse and death following a kidney operation.
  • Gentleman's Fate (1931) and The Sin Ship (1931), both following Louis Wolheim's death.
  • The Miracle Man (1932), less than five months after Tyrone Power Sr.'s death. Power was in the midst of filming the title role in a remake of the 1919 film, but collapsed and died of a heart attack in the arms of his son, Tyrone Power, Jr., while on the set; Power's part was taken up by Hobart Bosworth, but his work was not refilmed.
  • Thirteen Women (1932), released the night of Peg Entwistle's suicide by jumping off the Hollywood Sign.
  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow (1932), released over two months after Robert Ames' death from delirium tremens.
  • I Cover the Waterfront (1933), released just six days after Ernest Torrence's death following gall bladder surgery; while en route to Europe by ship, Torrence suffered an acute attack of gall stones, but after being rushed back to a New York City hospital, he died of complications following surgery.
  • Tomalio (1933), released over six months after Roscoe Arbuckle's death from a myocardial infarction.
  • Wake Up and Dream (1934), released just over a month after Russ Columbo's death in a shooting accident; the singer was shot under peculiar circumstances by his longtime friend, photographer Lansing Brown, while Columbo was visiting him at home. Brown had a collection of firearms and the two men were examining various pieces. Quoting Brown's description of the accident,[24] "I was absent-mindedly fooling around with one of the guns. [...] I had a match in my hand and when I clicked, apparently the match caught in between the hammer and the firing pin. There was an explosion. Russ slid to the side of his chair." The ball ricocheted off a nearby table and hit Columbo above the left eye. Surgeons at Good Samaritan Hospital made an unsuccessful attempt to remove the ball from Columbo's brain; he died less than six hours after the shooting.[25][26] Columbo's death was ruled an accident, and Brown exonerated from blame.[27][28]
  • Jew Suss (1934), released six months after Gerald du Maurier's death from colon cancer.
  • Steamboat Round the Bend (1935) and In Old Kentucky (1935), both released months after Will Rogers' death in an airplane crash; while being flown through Alaska by famed aviator Wiley Post, they became uncertain of their position in bad weather and landed in a lagoon to ask directions. On takeoff, the engine failed at low altitude, and the aircraft, uncontrollably nose-heavy at low speed, plunged into the lagoon, shearing off the right wing and ending inverted in the shallow water of the lagoon; both men died instantly.
  • The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936), released fifteen days after O.P. Heggie's death from pneumonia.
  • Frankie and Johnnie (1936), released over two years after Lilyan Tashman's death from abdominal cancer.
  • Counterfeit (1936) and Poppy (1936), both released just two months after character actor Tammany Young's death from a heart attack.
  • The Devil-Doll (1936) and China Clipper (1936), both released after Henry B. Walthall's death from influenza and a nervous condition.
  • Saratoga (1937), following Jean Harlow's death, with 90% of filming completed; a body double and two voice doubles completed the filming in Harlow's role.[29]
  • Rikas tyttö (1939), released less than two months after Finnish actress Sirkka Sari's death; Sari played the lead role in the film. At a party with the rest of the cast and crew, while shooting at the Aulanko Hotel, Sari and one of the men there (she was engaged, but the man was not her fiancé) went up to the roof of the hotel; on the flat roof, there was a several-feet high chimney, with a ladder leading up to the top. Sari mistook this chimney for a scenery balcony, climbed up, and fell into a heating boiler, where she died instantly. Because of Sari's death, the end of the film needed to be changed a bit; the crew shot further away, and so another woman had to replace Sari on these final shots. It was only Sari's third film; she was 19 years old.


  • The Great Awakening (1941), released one month after Barnett Parker's death from a heart attack.
  • To Be or Not to Be (1942), released one month after Carole Lombard's death in a plane crash.
  • Pluto Junior (1942), released a year after Lee Millar's death.
  • Above Suspicion (1943), released one month after Conrad Veidt's death from a heart attack.
  • The Masked Marvel (1943), released two months after David Bacon's mysterious death; he was seen driving a car erratically in Santa Monica, California before running off the road and into the curb. Several witnesses saw him climb out of the car and stagger briefly before collapsing. As they approached, he asked them to help him, but he died before he could say anything more. A small knife wound was found in his back – the blade had punctured his lung and caused his death. When he died, Bacon was wearing only a swimsuit, and a wallet and camera were found in his car. The film from the camera was developed and found to contain only one image, that of Bacon, nude and smiling on a beach.
  • Captain America (1944), whose later segments arrived at theatres following Dick Purcell's death from a heart attack, just a few weeks after shooting had wrapped.
  • Hangover Square (1945), two months after Laird Cregar's death, due to complications from stomach surgery following a crash diet that included prescribed amphetamines.
  • The Bashful Buzzard (1945), released one year after Kent Rogers' death in a training flight accident during World War II.
  • House of Horrors (1946), The Brute Man (1946), and The Spider Woman Strikes Back (1947), all released after Rondo Hatton's death from a heart attack, due to his acromegaly.
  • Lost City of the Jungle (1946), following Lionel Atwill's death, from pneumonia caused by poor health due to lung cancer, while filming this serial; Atwill was playing the mastermind villain, Sir Eric Hazarias, a chief foreign spy. Universal could not afford to throw out the footage already filmed, so they were forced to adapt the serial: Firstly, another villain (Malborn, played by John Mylong, who was originally just a servant of Sir Eric) was introduced as the boss of Atwill's character to take over most of the villain requirements of the film; secondly, a double of Atwill was used to complete his remaining scenes. The double was filmed from behind and remained silent. The villain's henchmen were filmed repeating their orders back to the silent double and stock footage of Atwill was edited in to show a response.
  • The Walls Came Tumbling Down (1946) and The Imperfect Lady (1947), both released after Miles Mander's death from a heart attack.
  • The Naked City (1948), released over two months after producer and narrator Mark Hellinger's death from a sudden heart attack; after Hellinger's death, executives at Universal Studios were ready to scrap the film, as they had no idea how to market it, and feared it would be a box office failure. Hellinger's widow, however, reminded the studio that Hellinger's contract for the film included a "guarantee of release" clause from Universal; having no choice, Universal released the film into theaters, and were subsequently surprised when it became a hit, garnering two Oscars for the studio.
  • Noose (1948) and Brass Monkey (1948), both released after Carole Landis' suicide; Landis was reportedly crushed when her lover, actor Rex Harrison, refused to divorce his wife, Lilli Palmer, for her. She took an overdose of Seconal at her Pacific Palisades home.[30][31] She had spent her final night with Harrison. The next afternoon, he and the maid discovered her on the bathroom floor. Harrison waited several hours before he called a doctor and the police.[32] According to some sources, Landis left two suicide notes; one for her mother, and the second for Harrison, who instructed his lawyers to destroy it.[33] During a coroner's inquest, Harrison denied knowing any motive for her suicide and told the coroner he did not know of the existence of a second suicide note.[34]
  • Red River (1948) and So Dear to My Heart (1949), both released after Harry Carey's death from a combination of lung cancer, emphysema, and coronary thrombosis in 1947; both films had been delayed due to lengthy post-production problems, including the addition of several animated sequences to the latter, a Disney film.
  • Little Women (1949), released nearly four months after C. Aubrey Smith's death from pneumonia.









See also[edit]


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