- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 29, 2011

The musical “Godspell” is back in the news as a new Broadway production opens this week. Did you know that four members from the cast of the 1973 film “Godspell” died at a relatively young age, and there were only ten in the cast? Just in time for Halloween, the List looks at the top ten films that were said to be cursed.

  • 10. The Passion of Christ (2004) - During filming in Italy, assistant director Jan Michelini was struck twice by lightning. The second time this happened, the lightning bolt also hit James Caviezel, who played Jesus. Caviezel also suffered a dislocated shoulder in the whipping scene and got hypothermia.
  • 9. Superman (1978) - Christopher Reeve the star of the 1978 film became a quadriplegic after being thrown from a horse. He died in 2004 at the age of 52. Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane with Reeve, suffered a bout of mental illness in 1996, and was found dazed and filthy wandering the streets of Los Angeles, while Richard Pryor, who appeared in “Superman III,” died of multiple sclerosis. George Reeves, who was known for his role as Superman in the 1950s television program “Adventures of Superman,” died at the age of 45 in 1959. The official finding was suicide, but some believe he was murdered or the victim of an accidental shooting.
  • 8. The Crow (1994) - On March 31, 1993, eight days before the film was completed, Brandon Lee, was accidentally shot in the abdomen. A metal tip from a dummy bullet had become lodged in the gun that killed Lee, who was 28. Lee, the star of the film that has become a cult classic, was the son of martial arts film star Bruce Lee who died at the age of 32, from an acute cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the drug Equagesic.
  • 7. The Exorcist (1977) - Linda Blair, the child actor who is possessed by a demon in this horror film, was arrested on drugs charges 1977, at aged 18. It is reported that American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was playing on his video of the movie when the police arrested him.
  • 6. The Omen (1976) - Two months before filming was due to begin on the film Gregory Peck´s son killed himself. Later, Peck’s plane was hit by lightening. Eight months after working on the film, special effects consultant designer John Richardson suffered injuries in a head-on car collision in Holland that killed his assistant, Liz Moore. A road sign by the crash read: Ommen, 66.6 km.
  • 5. Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) - An horrific helicopter crash took the lives of actor Vic Morrow, 53, and two child actors, Myca Dinh Le, 7, and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, 6, during the filming of a segment of the film directed by John Landis on July 23, 1982. All three were killed instantly. Two of the victims were decapitated by the helicopter’s top rotor blades. 
  • 4. Godspell (1973) - Of the original ten members of the cast in the 1973 film, four of those who played Jesus’ apostles have died. Lynne Thigpen, 54, best known for the PBS children’s show “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” died of cerebral hemorrhage. Jeffrey Mylettdied of Aids at 36. Merrell Jackson, who sang “All Good Gifts,” in the film died at the age of 38, and David Haskell, who played Judas Iscariot and John The Baptist, died in 2000 of a brain tumor at the age of 52.
  • 3. Rosemary’s Baby (1968) - Director Roman Polanski’s horror film told the story of a young woman whose husband trades their unborn child to sect of Satanists. A year after its release, Polanski’s own wife, the actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson Family. Tate was eight months pregnant with the couple’s first child when she died.
  • 2. Poltergeist (1982-1988) - Four of the Poltergeist trilogy’s actors all died within 6 years of the first movie. Dominique Dunne, who played Dana in the first movie, died at age 22 after being murdered by her former boyfriend. Julian Beck, the 60-year-old actor who played Henry Kane in “Poltergeist II: The Other Side,” died on Sept. 14, 1985 of stomach cancer diagnosed before he had accepted the role. Will Sampson, 53 years old, who played Taylor the medicine man in “Poltergeist II,” died as a result of post-operative kidney failure on June 3, 1987. Heather O’Rourke, who played Carol Anne in all three Poltergeist movies, died on Feb. 1, 1988 at the age of 12 of septic shock.
  • 1. Rebel Without A Cause (1955) - Perhaps no film was as cursed as much as this American classic. All three key members of the cast died tragically. James Dean was killed in a car chase before the film’s release at age 23. Dean’s co-star Natalie Wood, drowned in unusual circumstances in Nov. 1981 when she was 44, and Sal Mineo, died five years earlier after being stabbed to death in an alley in West Hollywood, Calif. He was 37. Beverly Hills orthopaedic surgeon Troy McHenry, fitted his own car with parts from the Porsche Spyder that Dean died in. A year later he was killed when his Porsche Spyder hit a tree.

Bonus material:The Conqueror (1956) - This John Wayne film was shot on location near St. George, Utah, 137 miles downwind of the Nevada nuclear test site. A number of the leading cast all later died of cancer, including Wayne, director Dick Powell and Susan Hayward. According to a 1980 article in People magazine, of the 220 cast and crew members, 91 had contracted cancer. Forty-six of them had died of the disease.

Compiled by John Haydon
The Sunday Herald (UK), Sunday Mail (UK), BBC.com, Wikipedia, The Washington Times, current.com and People magazine.