Most shocking celebrity deaths

04 September 2015

Recent research revealed that the death of Paul Walker has been voted as the most shocking celebrity death of the past five years.

Shocking celebrity deaths

Whitney Houston and Robin Williams followed closely behind, with the British public most affected by deaths of celebrities where the death 'came out of nowhere'.

The survey conducted polled 2,872 British adults, all of whom were aged 18 or over, with an even gender split. We conducted the survey as part of research into the British public's attitudes towards death and the effect of celebrity culture.

Initially, we asked 'Has there been any celebrity deaths within the past 5 years that have affected you, e.g. made you feel upset, shocked or distressed?' 84% of people revealed that there had been, the rest said that they had not been affected by any celebrity deaths.

Following this, we presented respondents with a list of celebrities who have passed away within the past five years and they were asked to select all those that they had been shocked or affected by. Our researchers compiled the results to reveal the top ten most shocking celebrity deaths as:

  1. Paul Walker – 61% 
  2. Whitney Houston – 55% 
  3. Robin Williams – 52% 
  4. Amy Winehouse – 51% 
  5. Cory Monteith – 44% 
  6. Peaches Geldof – 39% 
  7. Phillip Seymour Hoffman – 37% 
  8. Ryan Dunn – 34% 
  9. James Gandolfini – 24% 
  10. Phillip Hughes – 23%

We wanted to understand more about respondents' reactions, so we then asked all relevant respondents to disclose what made them most affected by a celebrity death. The results were revealed as follows:

  1. The death came out of nowhere – 34% 
  2. They were my favourite celebrity – 29% 
  3. I admired their work – 26%
  4. Their death was of an upsetting nature – 22%
  5. I felt for their families – 19%

We also asked respondents to reveal how they had heard the news of shocking celebrity deaths. A majority of respondents said that they found out on social media, whilst 25% said they found out via an 'official news outlet'. 8% said that they found out about the death from a family member or friend.

Finally, we asked respondents to disclose how the news of the death had affected them. A majority (54%) stated that they 'appreciated the celebrity's work more', while 7% said they 'liked their work less' after hearing about their death. The rest said their experiences and opinions were 'unchanged' by the news.

There have been some surprising celebrity deaths over the last few years and a lot of us have been affected, extending well beyond the devout fans. Many of these deaths were really tragic and unexpected, causing a ripple around the world.

Death is such a tough thing to deal with, even when it is a celebrity death. These instances often come as a surprise or mirror our own worries or experiences, so it's completely understandable that we feel a sense of loss when we hear the news.