The Superman Curse
Arguably one of the most famous movie curses, the origins of this curse can be traced back to Superman’s creators. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (the writer and artist respectively of the original Superman) sold the rights to DC Comics. Almost immediately after selling, Superman comics started to become hugely popular. As the hero became a billon-dollar franchise, Siegel and Shuster were living in poverty and both died completely resenting the character.
Here are all the supposed “victims” of the Superman curse:
Kirk Alyn was the first person to portray Superman, playing the character on a low budget TV series in the 1940s. After the show ran its course, Alyn reportedly could not secure another job without being type-casted. Nobody wanted to see him play any other character, so his acting career ended abruptly. He later died at 88 after spending the remaining years of his life suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Bud Collyer voiced Superman on the cartoon series that ran from 1941 to 1943 and found great success. When he revisited the character again in 1966 for a CBS reboot of the series, he found out he had a circulatory issue and died suddenly at 61.
George Reeves played the title character in the 1951 film, Superman and the Mole Men, and then went on to star in the Superman TV series that ran from 1952 to 1958. Like Alyn, Reeves said he had significant difficulty finding work after the show ended. His deflated career and the public’s dismissal of seeing him in any role that wasn’t Superman pushed Reeves into a depression. In 1959, as a result of his life coming to standstill over being typecast, he committed suicide in his home.
Christopher Reeve is undoubtedly the most famous portrayal of Superman — playing the hero in the 1978 Superman movie — and he then went on to have a really successful acting career with the series and starring in three more movies. However, after this success, just like Alyn and Reeves, Reeve could not secure an acting job that wasn’t Superman. In 1995, Reeve was thrown from his horse during a cross-country riding event, and became paralyzed from the neck down. After almost a decade of being a prominent philanthropist and public figure for disability rights, Reeve suddenly died at 52 from a heart attack, after the antibiotics he was taking to combat an infection reacted negatively in his system. His wife, Dana Reeve, stayed with him up until his death in 2004. Afterwards, she was diagnosed with lung cancer, even though she’d never smoked. Two years later, she died due to complications from the cancer, at only 44 years old.
You also didn’t have to play Superman to be impacted by the curse. Richard Pryor, after years of being a well-known comedian who suffered through drug addiction and severe depression, seemed to be turning his life around when he was cast as a villain in Superman III. A few years after the film was released, Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and had passed away from a heart attack in 2005 — at only 65. Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in the 1978 movie, was so typecast as a “damsel in distress” after the film’s success, she wanted to quit acting. Then, in 1990, she was left temporarily paralyzed after a major car accident. Six years later, she had a huge mental breakdown — convinced her ex-husband was trying to kill her, she cut off all her hair and began sleeping on the streets. Lee John Quigley, who was cast to play baby Superman in the 1978 movie at only seven months old, passed away suddenly when he was 14 due to solvent abuse.
The Omen Curse
John Richardson, who was the special effects consultant for The Omen, was also in charge of creating the movie’s graphic death scenes. After he finished work on The Omen, he went to Holland for his next production job with his girlfriend and assistant, Liz Moore. While there, Richardson’s car crashed, and Moore was cut in half after colliding with the steering wheel — which, if that sounds eerily familiar, is almost exactly what happens to the character Keith Jennings in The Omen. When Richardson regained consciousness after the crash, the first thing he saw was “Ommen 66,6” — because Ommen, Netherlands was 66,6 kilometers away. The crash happened on Friday the 13th.
Gregory Peck, who plays Robert Thorn — the adopted father of Damien (the Devil Child) — barely made it to filming. After he accepted the role, his real son committed suicide unexpectedly. Then, while flying from LA to London, Peck’s plane was struck by lightning and nearly crashed. Weirdly, three days later, David Seltzer (the screenwriter) was on his flight to London when his plane ALSO got struck by lightning. THEN the rented production plane intended to be used to shoot aerial footage of London was actually reassigned by the aircraft company from The Omen set to a group of Japanese businessmen at the last minute instead. During takeoff, the plane hit a car and killed everyone on board.
A bunch of weird things happened to the animals on set too: in the scene where Peck is attacked by a pack of Rottweilers, the dogs were supposed to attack a heavily padded and protected stuntman. Something snapped and the dogs tore through the padding and wouldn’t stop attacking the stuntman, despite the trainers trying to intervene.
The crew also barely missed being bombed by the IRA twice — the first was when Mace Neufeld (a producer) just happened to not be in his hotel room when the IRA bombed the Hilton in London and the second is when Richard Donner (director), Neufeld, and some other actors and producers missed a bombing at the restaurant they were scheduled to eat at because they were running just mere minutes behind.
The reboot of The Omen, which was released on June 6, 2006 (6/6/06!!!), was also supposedly cursed — Pete Postlethwaite, who plays Father Brennan, lost his brother during filming. It was after his brother’s death that Postlethwalte remembered his brother had pulled three sixes during a recent poker game.
The Poltergeist Curse
Poltergeist was a horror film trilogy released in the ’80s about a family who is terrorized by ghosts. Heather O’Rourke, who plays Carol Anne — the young girl sitting in front of the TV in the famous image synonymous with the movies — died from cardiac arrest by septic shock when she was only 12 years old, and only four months before the last Poltergeist was released. The actress who played her older sister, Dominique Dunne, was strangled to death by an ex-boyfriend five months after the last film. Julian Beck, who appears in the second Poltergeist as the evil reverend, died of cancer before the second movie even came out in 1985. And then Will Sampson, who played Taylor the Medicine Man, died from a post-op kidney failure in 1987.
Overall, within the six years during which the trilogy was filmed and released, four cast members died. Then, in 1992, Richard Lawson (who played Ryan) was one of only 27 people who survived USAir Flight 405 when it crashed into Flushing Bay. And although it’s occasionally considered on the internet to be a stretch to include as evidence for the Poltergeist Curse because of the timimg, Lou Perryman (who played Pugsley in the first film) was murdered with an axe in his own home in 2009.
The Conqueror Curse
The Conqueror was a John Wayne movie filmed in Utah, less than 150 miles from the Nevada Test Site — only a year after the U.S. government had set off above-ground nuclear bombs for testing. The canyons the movie was filmed in would’ve trapped a lot of the heavy dust and dirt, contaminated from the fallout from the nuclear bomb testing. Thus, everyone on the set — that’s 220 people — was constantly exposed to radioactive particulars during filming.
Following the movie’s release, 91 people who worked on the movie were diagnosed with some form of cancer (that’s 91 people out of 220). Wayne died from lung and stomach cancer, Agnes Moorhead died of uterine cancer, Jeanne Gerson died from skin and breast cancer, Susan Hayward died of brain cancer, Dick Powell (the director) died of lung cancer, and Pedro Armendariz, who beat kidney cancer, committed suicide after finding another form of cancer in his system.
The Rosemary’s Baby Curse
The film’s composer died of a brain clot in the year following the film’s release — the exact same way Rosemary’s friend dies in the movie. William Castle, a producer, suffered kidney failure after the movie was finished because he was so stressed with worry over all the hate mail he received. Reportedly, while in the hospital, he began hallucinating scenes from the movie and supposedly yelled: “Rosemary, for God’s sake, drop the knife!” He never worked on another film.
Then, infamously, there was what happened to Roman Polanski, who directed the film. Polanski had recently started becoming serious with his girlfriend, Sharon Tate, and relocated to Los Angeles with her. He last saw Tate (who was very pregnant at the time) in July 1969 (Rosemary’s Baby had been released almost exactly a year prior), and recalled that he remembered experiencing this sinking feeling that he would never see her again. On August 8th of that year, Tate was violently murdered — along with her unborn baby and four friends — by the Manson Family.
Even creepier — the phrase “Helter Skelter” was written in blood at the crime scene of Tate’s murder, which is a reference to the Beatles song from The White Album; an album that was predominantly written at an Indian meditation, at which Mia Farrow (who plays Rosemary) was in attendance. 12 years after the Manson Family murder, John Lennon was assassinated across the street from the Dakota — where Rosemary’s Baby was filmed.