Lifespans and Legacies

Famous People who Died at 50 and Below

Marie Julienne Ente

This is a commemoration to not so old acquaintances we can never forget. Here is a list of famous people – both the extraordinary and irreverent, the heroic and the victimized – who made up for what they lacked in life span by being remembered across lifetimes.

Ninoy Aquino (50)
COD: assassination
Legacy: anti-tyranny icon whose death ignited the EDSA revolution

Michael Jackson (50)
COD: heart attack, possibly overdosed from painkillers
Legacy: the King of Pop music, pioneer performer

Jay Ilagan (46)
COD: motorcycle accident
Legacy: famous and versatile 70’s actor with an impressive resume

Francis Magalona (44)
COD: cancer
Legacy: king of Philippine Rap music

Flor Contemplacion (42)
COD: executed by the Singaporean government
Legacy: alerted everyone on the abuse and plight of OFWs

Jane Austen (41)
COD: Addison’s disease
Legacy: proved that women can also write when she wrote Pride and Prejudice

Ferdinand Magellan (41)
COD: Killed in battle
Legacy: made the impossible circumnavigation possible

Che Guevara (39)
COD: executed
Legacy: Marxist revolutionary and icon of the Cuban rebellion

Martin Luther King, Jr. (39)
COD: assassination
Legacy: American civil rights and anti-racism activist

Apolinario Mabini (39)
COD: cholera
Legacy: known as Dakilang Paralitiko, political philosopher and revolutionary

Malcolm X (39)
COD: assassination
Legacy: also an African-American civil and human rights activist

Vincent Van Gogh (37)
COD: suicide
Legacy: artist, pioneered Expressionism

Bob Marley (36)
COD: melanoma
Legacy: reggae music legend

Marilyn Monroe (36)
COD: drug overdose
Legacy: singer-actress, image of a liberated woman

Princess Diana Spencer (36)
COD: car accident
Legacy: humanitarian, chose love over the monarchy, warned us of the high price of fame

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (35)
COD: rheumatic fever
Legacy: classical music prodigy since his wunderkind years

Fernando Poe, Sr. (35)
COD: rabies
Legacy: star actor, father to the King of Filipino movies

José Rizal (35)
COD: executed: firing squad
Legacy: writer, social critic, national hero

Yuri Gagarin (34)
COD: jet crash
Legacy: the first man in space

Andres Bonifacio (33)
COD: execution/assassination
Legacy: revolutionary, leader of the Katipunan

Jesus Christ (33)
COD: crucifixion
Legacy: prophet, philosopher, Messiah

Khadaffy Janjalani (33)
COD: died in military encounter
Legacy: Abu Sayyaf bandit, the Jesse James of the Philippines

John Lennon (33)
COD: murder
Legacy: rock and roll star from the legendary Beatles band, artist and activist

Evita Perón (33)
COD: cancer
Legacy: famous Argentinean political figure, feared being forgotten

Diego Silang (33)
COD: assassination
Legacy: revolutionary, called Ang Bayani ng Ilokos

Alexander the Great (32)
COD: typhoid fever
Legacy: emperor who conquered the largest known empire of the ancient world

Karen Carpenter (32)
COD: heart attack from anorexia nervosa
Legacy: lead singer of The Carpenters whose songs we still sing today

Bruce Lee (32)
COD: painkiller hypersensitivity
Legacy: Kung fu star, brought Chinese martial arts into the limelight

Gabriela Silang (32)
COD: execution: hanged
Legacy: wife of fellow revolutionary Diego Silang

Nero (31)
COD: suicide
Legacy: Roman emperor whose reputation included genocide and arson

Heath Ledger (28)
COD: accidental overdose
Legacy: acclaimed actor credited for his roles in Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight

Kurt Cobain (27)
COD: gunshot and overdose
Legacy: rock legend, influenced the grunge lifestyle of the 90s.

Jimi Hendrix (27)
COD: overdose and asphyxia
Legacy: influential and exceptional left-handed guitarist

Jose Palma (27)
COD: tuberculosis
Legacy: soldier and poet, of which one of his works became our national anthem’s lyrics

Rico Yan (27)
COD: heart attack
Legacy: Philippine matinee idol who died at the peak of his career

Sarah Jane Salazar (25)
Legacy: victim turned advocate who got the Philippines talking about AIDS

Tupac Shakur (25)
COD: gunshot
Legacy: rap icon, who is rumored to be still alive

James Dean (24)
COD: car accident
Legacy: the original Rebel without a Cause, first post-humous actor to receive a Best Actor nomination

Selena (23)
COD: homicide
Legacy: musician and superstar, known as the Mexican Madonna

Péle (22)
COD: food poisoning
Legacy: influential football player, hailed as the greatest in Portugal

Pocahontas (22)
COD: either smallpox or tuberculosis
Legacy: Algonquian Indian princess, half of probably the most famous interracial love team

Joan of Arc (19)
COD: execution: burned at the stake
Legacy: young woman who led a war for God and for the French monarchy

Tutankhamun (18)
COD: infection
Legacy: most famous Egyptian emperor, more famous for his tomb’s curse than his rule

Anne Frank (15)
COD: concentration camp
Legacy: her diary became the most memorable account of the Holocaust

The legacies we leave are profiles of the impact we’ve made on a great number of people. It is a challenge for everyone to prove themselves worthy of being discussed when they are alive, let alone be talked about even after death and be known by generations strange to them. This list also challenges us to not only leave such legacies, but to form them early on in our lives.