James Dean was the original "rebel without a cause," a rising star who lived life in the fast line. The Indiana-born actor solidified his A-List status through movies including "East of Eden," "Giant" and "Rebel Without A Cause." Despite his fame, Dean reportedly dealt with severe mood swings and depression that resulted in erratic behavior, including heavy use of alcohol and drugs. Besides acting in big screen productions, Dean also took up an auto racing career, coming in second in the Palm Springs Road Races and third in Bakersfield in 1955. On his way to another race on Sept. 30, 1955, Dean died in a head-on collision. He was 24 years old.
River Phoenix, 23
Critically acclaimed but deeply tormented, River Phoenix was one of the brightest young actors of the 1980s and '90s. The Oregon-born star broke into Hollywood in the 1985 movie "Explorers," but it was his 1986 role in "Stand By Me" that made the industry and the public take notice of his talents. He scored a best supporting actor award from the National Board of Review for his role in 1988's "Running on Empty," and played a young Indiana Jones alongside Harrison Ford in '89's "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." As his profile grew, Phoenix attached himself to a variety of causes, campaigning for PETA and endangered rain forests. Despite the actor's success, Phoenix's tumultuous childhood haunted him. In 1991, he told Details magazine that he lost his virginity at age 4 while in the Children of God, a religious cult his family belonged to in the early 1970s and that he reportedly suffered from depression. On Oct. 31, 1993, Phoenix died after overdosing on cocaine and heroin at the Viper Room in Los Angeles. He was 23 years old. Phoenix's legacy lives on in his younger brother Joaquin Phoenix, who won a Golden Globe for his role in 2005's "Walk the Line."
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, best known by her first name, was a Latin music sensation and crossover pop sensation in the United States. She began her singing career at the age of 6. Three years later, Selena's father made her the lead singer of the family band he founded, Selena y Los Dinos. Performing every gig they could get their hands on paid off when Selena landed her first record deal at the age of 12, recording her debut album for a local record company. She grew to be insanely popular with the Latin community and quickly reached star status, with a devoted fan club. With her musical success, Selena gained the financial means to launch her own fashion line. At the peak of the singer's career, her family discovered that the president of Selena's fan club and manager of her boutique, Yolanda Saldívar, had been pocketing income from the star's funds. Selena decided to confront Saldívar about the situation while collecting papers for tax purposes at a hotel in Corpus Christi, Texas. Saldívar refused to give Selena the papers and then shot her in the back. The singer was taken to a hospital, but she had lost too much blood. Her voice went quiet at age 23.