Fame and fortune mean nothing when close ones are lost. We often imagine celebrity lives to be perfect, but even with all the wealth and success, no one is immune to personal tragedy. These 17 stars had it all, but went through the greatest anguish a parent can experience: they lost children.
1. Loretta Lynn
The 85-year-old country star has had a lot of tragedy in her long life. Her father died before she became famous, and she outlived two of her children. Her son Jack Benny Lynn died trying to ford a river on a horse, and her daughter Betty Sue passed away in 2013 from emphysema.
2. Mary Tyler Moore
The comedienne who passed away aged 80 in January 2017 faced tragedy when her son Richard shot himself accidentally when he was only 24.
3. Pierce Brosnan
The Bond actor has had his share of sadness. His wife, Australian actress Cassandra Harris, died of ovarian cancer in 1991. Years later, the couple’s daughter Charlotte would pass away after battling the same disease.
4. Mia Farrow
Farrow raised four biological and ten adopted children, some of which have sadly passed away. Three of her adopted kids have died: son Tam died at age 19 from a heart condition, her daughter Lark died from unrevealed causes aged 35, and her son Thaddeus committed suicide when he was 27.
5. Marie Osmond
The country star’s troubled son Michael eventually took his own life, explaining he always had trouble connecting with people his own age in the suicide note.
6. Keanu Reeves
The Matrix star’s daughter with girlfriend Jennifer Syme was stillborn, and Syme herself died in a car crash just a few years later.
7. Joe Biden
The former vice president has been married twice. His first wife and their daughter Naomi were killed in a car crash that also sent his sons Beau and Hunter to the hospital. They both pulled through, but nearly 40 years later Beau died of brain cancer. Biden kept the illness a secret, but slowly lightened his schedule so he could spend more time with Beau before he passed away.
8. Sylvester Stallone
You may remember Stallone’s son Sage from Rocky 5, where he played the famous boxer’s son, but he had a successful career of his own. Sage was working as a director and producer when he died from heart disease in 2012.
9. Paul Newman
The son of legendary actor and racer Paul Newman, Scott, had roles in a handful of Hollywood films like The Towering Inferno, but his career was tragically cut short when he died of a drug overdose, aged 28. His father built the Scott Newman Center, a drug rehabilitation and education center dedicated to Scott’s memory. The Hollywood legend who was involved in numerous other charity endeavors passed away in 2008 aged 83.
10. Carol Burnett
Carrie Hamilton, the daughter of famous TV star Carol Burnett, acted on Broadway and in movies like Cool World, but sadly died of lung cancer in 2011.
11. Anna Nicole Smith
Fans of Anna Nicole Smith’s reality show The Anna Nicole Show may remember her son Daniel Wayne. He overdosed while visiting his mother in the hospital and passed away. He was only 20 years old. Anna Nicole died five months later from another overdose aged 39.
12. Willie Nelson
The country legend and activist has been married four times and had seven children. Billy, his son from his first marriage, committed suicide in 1991, reportedly because of money trouble.
13. Robert Plant
Tragically, the singer for Led Zeppelin was on tour when his 5-year-old son Karac died of a stomach infection.
14. Eric Clapton
It was headline news when the English guitarist’s 5-year-old son Conor fell out a New York City window left open by a cleaning lady in 1991. Clapton wrote “Tears in Heaven” as a tribute to his son.
The reclusive musician who died in April 2016 aged 57 always kept his personal life very private. He had a son with backup singer Mayte Garcia. Ahmir Gregory Nelson was born in 1996 with a rare skull disorder and died just weeks later.
16. Mike Tyson
Tragedy struck once more in the life of the troubled former champion when Exodus, one of the boxer’s 8 children, was accidentally strangled by a cord hanging on a treadmill in 2009. She was 4.
17. John Travolta and Kelly Preston
During a family vacation in the Bahamas, the couple’s son Jett slipped in the bath and died of a seizure. Travolta founded the Jett Travolta Foundation, which helps children with special needs, in his son’s honor.