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Gone Too Soon: 13 Beautiful Men We Loved and Lost In Their Prime

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Chad Buchanan/PatrickMcMullan/Sipa

Paul Walker’s sudden passing shook everyone who knew the handsome and charismatic actor, either personally or through his films.

Fans, friends and family have spent the past week remembering a genuine, giving and optimistic man, who was enjoying the happiest time of his life. Unfortunately, Walker is not the first star we’ve lost too soon.

No matter the cause or age, death is a sad fact. But there’s something extra bittersweet and tragic about a life cut short in its prime. Here we remember a group of those talented, beloved men.

Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger, 2004
John Stanton/Getty
Birthdate: April 4, 1979

Age at Death: 28

Ledger is known for his varied film career that launched with teen classics like 10 Things I Hate About You and A Knight’s Tale, and ended with unforgettable performances in Brokeback Mountain and his Academy Award-winning portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight. He is survived by his 8-year-old daughter with Michelle Williams, Matilda Rose Ledger.

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain, 1993
Frank Micelotta/Getty
Birthdate: December 20, 1967

Age at Death: 27

Cobain was the lead singer, guitarist and main songwriter for Nirvana. He helped establish grunge music with Nirvana’s 1991 release of Nevermind and its anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Cobain married Courtney Love in 1992, and he is survived by his 21-year-old daughter Frances Bean Cobain.

River Phoenix

River Phoenix, 1991
Birthdate: August 23, 1970

Age at Death: 23

In his short life, Phoenix made 24 film and television appearances. Roles in Stand By Me and My Own Private Idaho earned Phoenix praise and set him up as a rising star. The actor is also remembered for extensive activism, including a Humanitarian award from PETA.

Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison, 1968
Birthdate: December 8, 1943

Age at Death: 27

Morrison was the frontman for The Doors and is remembered for his poetry. The Doors reached national recognition in 1967 thanks to singles like “Light My Fire.” He’s considered one of the greatest musicians of all time.

James Dean

James Dean, 1955
John Kobal Foundation/Hulton Archive/Getty
Birthdate: February 8, 1931

Age at Death: 24

While Dean only lived 24 years, he survives today as an icon of his time. The actor’s striking looks and natural talent made his short career stand out. His role as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause continues to be cited as a near-perfect representation of the disenchantment that can come with being a teenager.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix, 1967
Gunter Zint/Redferns/Getty
Birthdate: November 27, 1942

Age at Death: 27

Hendrix is often celebrated as one of the best musicians in the world, particularly for his skills on the electric guitar. His ability to master and manipulate the instrument continues to be an influence in music. Hendrix found commercial success throughout his brief career with songs like “Purple Haze,” “All Along the Watchtower” and “Hey Joe.”

Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee, 1992
Time Life Pictures/DMI/GEtty
Birthdate: February 1, 1965

Age at Death: 28

The son of Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee, was a talented martial artist. At the time of his death, Lee was starting to launch an acting career, appearing in multiple action films. Lee earned the lead role in The Crow, but died in an accident while filming. The Crow was released posthumously and received critical praise.

Cory Monteith

Cory Monteith, 2010
Birthdate: May 11, 1982

Age at Death: 31

Montieth is best known for his work as Finn Hudson on the show Glee. His sudden death shocked fans and castmates, among whom was his girlfriend Lea Michele. The show recently paid tribute to the actor, immortalizing Montieth’s talents and spirit.

Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur, 1994
Steve Eichner/Retna Ltd
Birthdate: June 16, 1971

Age at Death: 25

Shakur, also known by his stage name 2Pac, remains one of the best-selling musical artists. He has sold over 75 million albums worldwide, and continues to be an inspiration to aspiring musicians. Shakur released five studio albums in his lifetime and appeared in several films.

Ritchie Valens

Ritchie Valens, 1959
Gilles P tard/Getty
Birthdate: May 13, 1941

Age at Death: 17

In his eight month career, Valens released numerous hits including “La Bamba” and “Come On, Let’s Go” and appeared in several films. Record producers and fans were excited to watch Valens’s talent expand. Unfortunately, he died in the same plane crash that claimed Buddy Holly’s life on February 3, 1959. The date later became known as “The Day the Music Died.”

Brad Renfro

Brad Renfro, 2005
Stephen Shugerman/Getty
Birthdate: November 25, 1982

Age at Death: 25

Renfro started his acting career at 11 with a role in The Client. The part led to 21 more film credits and increasing hype for the young actor. PEOPLE named Renfro one of their “Top 30 Under 30” in 1995. He went on to appear in memorable movies like Tom and Huck and The Cure. Renfro has one son, 10-year-old Yamato Renfro.

Lee Thompson Young

Lee Thompson Young, 2009
Birthdate: February 1, 1984

Age at Death: 29

Young was a familiar face to those growing up with the Disney channel in the late ’90s. He appeared on the channel’s The Famous Jett Jackson and in several of their TV movies. Young is also known for his role as Chris Comer in the movie Friday Night Lights.

Adam Goldstein (DJ AM)

Adam Goldstein (DJ AM), 2008
Simon Ferreira/Startraks
Birthdate: December 30, 1973

Age at Death: 36

Goldstein was a musician, record producer, and DJ, who professionally went by the name DJ AM. He was celebrated for his ability to mix pop, metal and rap. This success led to collaborations with Madonna, Will Smith and more. Goldstein was once engaged to Nicole Richie and dated Mandy Moore.

RELATED: Remembering the Paul Walker Smile. Click to See More.

Paul Walker
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

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