The 27 Club sadly gained another member this week - at least that’s what they say.
Russian-born American actor Anton Yelchin, best known for playing the role of Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek film series, was found dead at his California home in the early hours of Sunday morning. He was 27-years-old and, within minutes of his death being announced to the world, he was being hailed all over the internet as the latest victim of the infamous 27 Club ‘curse’ - joining dozens of celebrities who never made it to their 28th birthdays.
But unlike so many other members of this particular ‘club,’ the actor in question didn’t lose his life to the effects of drugs or alcohol. Anton Yelchin was the victim of a freak accident. Friends discovered his body pinned between his car, with its engine still running, and the brick mailbox at the bottom of his driveway, after it’s believed he pulled into his driveway and exited the car, before it rolled back and crushed him. The accidental circumstances of this particular death only make it sadder.
The 27 Club term was coined in the 1970s after four of the biggest musicians of the day all died independently of one another and at the same age - Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. In later years, the list grew as the famous four were joined by the likes of Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse, who all passed away aged 27.
While there are those out there who would warn, ominously, that 27 ‘seems’ a dangerous age for celebrities, it seems unfair to me to lump Anton in with the rest of this group. A quick flick down the list reveals that the 27 Club is largely made up of young people who were exposed to far too many freedoms and temptations in their young lives, and didn’t handle it well. They were the ones who thought they were untouchable - talented certainly, but people who let fame and fortune drive them to a dark and desperate place. Brian Jones drowned in his pool and his autopsy revealed a heart and liver enlarged by years of drug and alcohol abuse; Jimi Hendrix choked to death in a pool of his own vomit after an accidental overdose; Janis Joplin died from a heroin overdose compounded by alcohol, and Jim Morrison is believed to have suffered a heart attack following a heroin overdose.
Anton Yelchin, on the other hand, was a dedicated actor, friendly, educated and professional. He was passionate about his industry and committed to encouraging the next generation of actors and writers.
In my opinion he belongs more firmly the ‘celebs we’re sad to have lost in 2016’ club than to the troubled Club 27.