The entertainment business is amazing! People will do nearly anything to get people to come to their movies, and make a buck doing it. This requires people to continue to find more amazing ways to impress the audience, which unfortunately has lead to real deaths on set. I haven’t done a top ten list for a while, and even though this maybe shouldn’t qualify, I thought I’d look at some real deaths (usually by stuntmen) that happened while filming.
The first death I ever heard about as a little kid happened in 1986’s Top Gun. Rocketing Tom Cruise to fame, Top Gun is a great story about a rogue fighter pilot. In the scene in which Maverick’s navigator ‘Goose’ dies, the stuntman hired to do the scene actually died during filming. According to Wikipedia:
Renowned aerobatic pilot Art Scholl was hired to do in-flight camera work for the film. The original script called for an inverted flat spin which he was to perform and capture on an onboard camera. Scholl entered the spin, but was unable to recover from it and crashed his Pitts S-2 in to the Pacific Ocean off the Southern California coast. The cause of the accident remains unknown.
Top Gun was dedicated to the memory of Art Scholl.
The most recent addition to this tragic list is a stunt man from the Batman film being produced now. A man was on a truck filming the Batmobile in a chase scene.
Warner Bros said in a statement: “There was a fatal accident at a special effects facility for Batman: The Dark Knight.
“A technician on the film died when the truck he was in struck a tree following a test run.
“Warner Bros Pictures and the entire cast and crew of The Dark Knight are deeply saddened by this tragedy, and their hearts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones of the deceased.”
Stuntman Harry L. O’Connor was killed in an accident during filming of XXX. He died during the parasailing scene in the film’s climax.
Brandon Lee seemingly carried on the Lee family curse during the movie The Crow. He was killed by a projectile from a gun that was supposed to be shooting blanks. It had been handled between takes on the set, but the reason for the death is still a mystery. The movie continued filming, and was eventually released. Brandon was a decent actor and a talented fighter. The movie gained cult-like status probably in some part due to Brandon’s death. The soundtrack is awesome as well.
The making of the movie had consequences which overshadowed the film itself. During the filming of a segment directed by John Landis on July 23, 1982, actor Vic Morrow and child actors Myca Dinh Le (age 7) and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (age 6) died in an accident involving a helicopter being used on the set. The helicopter was flying at an altitude of only 25 feet (8 meters), too low to avoid the explosions of the pyrotechnics used on set. When the blasts severed the tail rotor, it spun out of control and crashed, decapitating Morrow and Le with its blades. Chen was crushed to death as the helicopter crashed. Everyone inside the helicopter was unharmed.
The accident led to legal action against the filmmakers which lasted nearly a decade, and changed the regulations involving children working on movie sets at night and during special effects-heavy scenes. Hollywood also avoided helicopter-related stunts for many years, until the CGI revolution of the 1990s made it possible to use digital versions. As a result of the accident, one second assistant director had his name removed from the credits and replaced with the pseudonymous Alan Smithee. The incident also ended the friendship between director Landis and producer Spielberg, who was already angered before the accident that Landis had violated many codes, including using live ammunition on the set