1. Marvin Gaye
R&B songwriter Marvin Pentz Gaye Jr. was a drummer in a group named The Moonglows when record producer Berry Gordy signed him to Motown Records in 1961. Gaye increasingly gained popularity as a solo performer and utilized his songs to examine many social and political concerns. He eventually won a few Grammy Awards as well as an American Music Award.
Gaye’s life wasn’t without financial and emotional struggles, including a heroin addiction, despite his triumphs. His two wives received a substantial share of his profits when their marriages ended and he supposedly moved to Europe due to tax issues and unresolved marriages. He later submitted a bankruptcy petition, and at one time, he is said to have resided in Hawaii inside of a van. In 1984, Gaye’s father committed himself because he owed more than $9 million, according to reports.
2. Judy Garland
Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm and raised in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. She started out in the entertainment industry at an early age because both of her parents were entertainers. With her two elder sisters, Garland first performed as a singer in a group before switching to acting.
While Garland appeared in a number of movies and musicals, her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz is probably her most well-known one. While she had a brilliant career, a large portion of it was marred by drug abuse and money troubles. She supposedly had her house taken by the IRS, and when she died in 1969 (ostensibly from an accidental drug overdose), she still owed around $4 million in bills.
3. Michael Jackson
About 750 million records have been sold worldwide, and The King of Pop has won 13 Grammys in all. His album Thriller, which includes top-charting singles like Beat It and Billie Jean, was the first one to do so in the United States. One of the greatest musicians of all time, Michael Jackson has twice been honored with induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He reportedly owed $500 million when he passed away in 2009, and his estate went bankrupt as a result.
Jackson’s debt was partly a result of careless money management and legal costs. Yet, since his passing, his fortune has amassed an estimated $2 billion.
4. Corey Haim
At the age of 13, Canadian actor Corey Haim earned his first significant Hollywood job. He appeared in many movies throughout the 1980s, including Lucas and Silver Bullet, which was adapted from the Cycle of the Werewolf novel by Stephen King. Haim’s career was hampered by a Valium addiction and financial issues, which eventually prompted him to apply for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. He was residing with his mother in her Los Angeles apartment when he passed away at the age of 38.
After Haim passed away, his family reportedly had to ask his fans to contribute to the expense of his burial since they were so destitute. Haim’s family sold some of his personal belongings to raise money, and a celebrity memorabilia website called Startifacts agreed to provide $20,000.
5. Gary Coleman
Gary Coleman, a comedian, and former child TV star rose to fame after starring in the 1978 series Diff’rent Strokes. He has had appearances in movies, and he even had a cartoon program named after him. Throughout his life, Coleman experienced both financial and physical challenges. He sued his parents for mismanaging his fortune and won $1.3 million, only to declare bankruptcy ten years later. He apparently had absolutely little money when he passed away in 2010 at the age of 42.
6. Mickey Rooney
Mickey Rooney, a fellow child actor who was born Joseph Yule Jr., subsequently lost the majority of the money he had amassed. He made his screen debut in 1926 and went on to work with A-listers like Audrey Hepburn and Judy Garland.
Throughout the course of his 90 years in the entertainment business, Rooney won a variety of accolades for his abilities, including two Golden Globes. He had eight marriages, and when he went away in 2014, it was said that there wasn’t enough money for a public funeral. He gave his stepson Mark Aber the remaining $18,000.
7. Emily Dickinson
A calm, reclusive existence was led by Emily Elizabeth Dickinson, who was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1830. She apparently authored more than a thousand poems in her lifetime, but only a small number were published under pseudonyms.
The majority of Dickinson’s writing was not made widely known until after her death in 1886 when her family discovered 40 volumes of poetry she had bound together. She allegedly died in poverty. Subsequently, her family’s residence was bought by Amherst College and converted into a museum.
8. Zora Neale Hurston
Author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston hail from the United States. She came to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance and maintained relationships with many of the cultural figures who participated in the movement, including poet Langston Hughes. Jonah’s Gourd Vine, Hurston’s debut novel, was released in 1934; nevertheless, It was Their Eyes Were Watching God, the author’s second work, that would go on to become a masterpiece. According to reports, Hurston passed away with nothing to her name, and her tomb was unmarked until The Color Purple author Alice Walker decided to purchase a headstone for Hurston’s burial site.
9. Oscar Wilde
Another cultural hero who perished in poverty was Oscar Wilde. The playwright, who was famous for his comic plays, novels, and essays, was born in Dublin, Ireland, in the 1850s. His most well-known works are The Picture of Dorian Gray, a book, and The Importance of Being Earnest, a play that first debuted on Broadway in 1895 and then returned in 2011. Apparently broke after serving a two-year sentence in jail, Wilde passed away from meningitis in 1900.
10. Sammy Davis, Jr.
The multi-talented entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. was born in New York City in 1925 and quickly rose to fame across the world. He was a member of the Rat Pack in the 1960s, which also included Joey Bishop, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Frank Sinatra.
The executors of his estate reportedly had to auction off his possessions after he passed away from throat cancer in 1990 due to a $5.2 million tax bill and other obligations totaling thousands of dollars.