This past weekend, the seventh installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise, Furious 7, raked in $143.6 million at the box office—making it the biggest debut ever for a film in April. The great success is bittersweet, however, in light of the passing of the movie’s star Paul Walker, who died in November before the film was completed.
Furious 7 marks the second film to be released after Walker’s death. The action flick Brick Mansions was released last year, just five months after the actor’s passing.
Like Walker, many other notable actors died before their final films were released.
Here are nine legends that passed away before their time.
Posthumous Release: Dark Blood (2012)
Known for stellar performances in films like Stand By Me, My Own Private Idaho, and Running on Empty, River Phoenix’s promising career was cut short in 1993 due to a drug overdose.
At the time of his death, the 23-year old actor was filming the thriller Dark Blood. The film would remain unfinished for 19 years until its debut in 2012 at the Netherlands Film Festival.
The Oscar-nominated actor appeared in 24 films and television shows during his thirteen-year career.
Posthumous Releases: Wagon’s East (1994), Canadian Bacon (1995)
One of the funniest character actors of the '80s and '90s, lovable funnyman John Candy died of a heart attack at the age of 43 prior to the release of two films: Wagon’s East and Canadian Bacon.
Perhaps best known for his role as shower curtain ring salesman Del Griffith in the classic 1987 comedy Plans, Trains, and Automobiles, Candy also starred in memorable movies like Stripes, The Great Outdoors, Spaceballs, Uncle Buck, and Cool Runnings.
In addition to comedy, Candy briefly delved into drama in the 1990s playing eccentric Southern lawyer Dean Andrews in Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning film JFK.
Posthumous Release: The Misfits (1961)
Nicknamed “The King of Hollywood,” Clark Gable suffered a heart attack just two days after filming wrapped on The Misfits and died ten days later. Considered one of his finest performances, Gable portrayed Gay Langland in the Arthur Miller-scripted film alongside Hollywood legends Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.
Practically synonymous with Hollywood’s Golden Age, Gable was nominated for three Academy Awards—winning one for his performance in It Happened One Night. He is perhaps best known for playing Rhett Butler in 1939’s Gone with the Wind.
Gable took a break from acting in 1942 following the sudden death of his wife Carole Lombard and joined the U.S. Army Air Force to fight in World War II. A recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, Gable flew five combat missions during the war and was promoted to major in 1944.
Posthumous Releases: Almost Heroes (1998), Dirty Work (1998)
Thanks to starring roles in Tommy Boy and Black Sheep, Chris Farley was one of the most recognizable faces in comedy when he died of a drug overdose in 1998. After his death in December 1997, his final two films, Almost Heroes and Dirty Work (a cameo appearance) were released.
Farley was in talks to star in several projects at the time of his death, including a biopic about Fatty Arbuckle and in an adaption of the novel A Confederacy of Dunces. Farley, who was originally cast as the voice of Shrek, had recorded 80 to 90 percent of his dialogue when he died.
Posthumous Releases: Enough Said (2013), The Drop (2014)
Best know for portraying mobster Tony Saprano on the Emmy-winning HBO series The Sopranos, James Gandolfini completed a pair of films before dying unexpectedly in 2013. The first movie, the romantic comedy Enough Said, earned Gandolfini numerous award nominations, including a Critics Choice Award. The Drop, which featured his final on screen performance, was released last year and also earned Gandolfini praise.
Gandolfini’s 25-year career also included notable performances in movies like True Romance, Get Shorty, 8MM, and The Man Who Wasn’t There.
Posthumous Releases: Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Giant (1956)
A cultural icon and embodiment of teen angst in the 1950s, James Dean’s sudden death shocked Hollywood when he died in a car accident at the age of 24. A legend to this day, Dean starred in just three films—all of which are considered classics.
Dean earned an Oscar nomination for his debut role in 1955’s East of Eden and earned a second nomination for Giant, which was released after the actor’s death. The actor’s other posthumously released movie, Rebel Without a Cause, was a groundbreaking film upon its release for its portrayal of 1950s youth culture.
Dean remains a fixture in popular culture nearly 50 years after his death. A total of thirteen biographical films have been released based on the actor’s life, including Life, which debuted earlier this year.
Posthumous Releases: The Dark Knight (2008), The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)
Heath Ledger’s career may have been brief, but the 28-year old actor left an indelible mark on Hollywood when he died from a drug overdose in 2008. At the time of the Australian actor’s death, he had completed The Dark Knight, for which he earned a posthumous Academy Award for Supporting Actor, and was filming The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
In addition to his memorable role as the Joker in the Dark Knight, Ledger’s eclectic resume included parts in 10 Things I Hate About You,A Knight’s Tale, Monster’s Ball, and Brokeback Mountain. Ledger also directed several music videos like Ben Harper’s “Morning Yearning” and Modest Mouse's "King Rat."
Posthumous Releases: Enter the Dragon (1973), The Game of Death (1978)
One of the most influential martial artists ever, Bruce Lee’s acting career was just beginning to blossom when he died mysteriously in 1973. Lee’s masterpiece, Enter the Dragon, came out six days after his death, and forever revolutionized martial arts filmmaking. Another film that Lee was shooting prior to his death, The Game of Death, was released five years later. The movie featured archival footage of Lee pieced together with additional scenes shot after the actor’s death.
In addition to the aforementioned movies, Lee starred in three other feature length films: The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, and The Way of the Dragon. He also co-starred as Kato in the crime fighting television show The Green Hornet.
Posthumous Releases: Boulevard (2014), A Merry Friggin’ Christmas (2014), Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014), Absolutely Anything (2015)
One of the most versatile actors of his era, Robin Williams conquered both comedy and drama in a career that spanned nearly 40 years with films such as The World According to Garp, Dead Poet’s Society, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Birdcage, and Good Will Hunting—for which he won an Oscar.
Upon his death last summer, Williams had filmed four movies that had yet to be released. The sci-fi comedy Absolutely Anything, which features Williams’ voice, is set to come out this summer.
Prior to his numerous film roles, Williams first gained notoriety by portraying the loveable alien Mork from the planet Ork in the sitcom Mork and Mindy.