Heart attacks have taken many people by surprise, and in the performance world, perhaps the stress of rehearsing, filming and touring contributes to the final act for some. Interestingly, in this article, you will also see that the saying’ life imitates art’ couldn’t have been any truer for some of the actors and actresses mentioned.
Edith Webster was an actress that appeared in stage performances, but it was while she was singing ‘Please Don’t Talk About Me when I’m Gone” that left a lasting impression on audience members. She actually collapse and died at the same exact time that her character was supposed to collapse and die. The audience thought that her actions were all part of the play, and they started to clap without knowing that she had really died and the calls for help from the stagehands were not part of the play.
Webster was not the only actor to share the same fate as a character they played for a role. In 1958, Gareth Jones was portraying a character that died of a heart attack in a live science fiction play called ‘Underground’ in a United Kingdom production. He died of a real heart attack between his scenes.
While filming a fencing scene in a film called ‘Solomon and Sheba,’ actor Tyrone Power (also known as ‘Ty’) suffered a heart attack and died shortly after being placed inside of the ambulance. Power was an American film and stage actor who was active between the 1930s and 1950s. He often played the character of a swashbuckler or took on the romantic lead. Power appeared in films, such as ‘The Mark of Zorro’ and ‘Prince of Foxes.’ He was 44 years old when he died.
In 1984, while performing on a TV variety show called ‘Live From Her Majesty’s,’ Cooper suffered a heart attack. The magician and comedian was known for deliberately getting his illusion wrong, which provided a bit of comic relief. When he collapsed during this particular show, the audience thought that it was part of his act. Backstage, attempts were made to revive the performer but nothing helped. When he was transported to the hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival.
The English comedian was one half of a performing duo called ‘Morecame and Wise.’ Over the course of his career, he became a well-known presenter and comedian. He even got his own TV show called The Morecambe and Wise Show, which became a real hit , attracting 28 million viewers for one of their Christmas specials, which was a record. However, health was not on Morecambe’s side. He had suffered two heart attacks before a third killed him on May 28, 1984.
At the time of his death, he was appearing on a comedy show at the Roses Theater in Tewkesbury, England. Since he was so popular, he returned to the stage six times after the show had ended. Following the sixth announcement for his return, he walked off-stage where he joked, “Thank goodness that’s over” and collapsed. The next morning, he was pronounced dead at 4 a.m. at the age of 58.