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Jonathan Brandis, Dead of Suicide at 27 [Celebrity Kids Gone Bad]

Jonathan-brandis-100x100  We knew him as Bastian in The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter or from a number of movies and television guest appearances, but unfortunately we didn't know him long.  Talented actor, screenwriter and director Jonathan Brandis hanged himself at age 27.

Having left no suicide note, the reasons for his suicide are left to speculation.

Jonathan-Brandis-Youth It's a bit misleading to say that Jonathan Gregory Brandis is a celebrity child gone "bad," as he was never reported having done anything wrong.  He was a promising actor, screenwriter and director and should have led a long, full life. Sadly, along with his talent, promise and light, he took with him the reasons he ended his own life in 2003.

Jonathan began his career as a child model and began acting in television commercials, and landed a recurring role on One Life to Live when he was six years old. He moved to Los Angeles with his family at age nine, and made guest appearances on shows such as L.A. Law, Who's the Boss?, Murder, She Wrote, Full House and Kate & Allie. I remember him from Stepfather II, which scared the hell out of me.  Possibly because I had a stepfather and I was just looking for verification that all stepfathers would end up evil and chasing the step kids around with knives.  Or whistling.  I hate whistling.  Nobody innocent whistles.  

Well.  I've never known anyone but malevolent whistlers.  


I'm sorry; I digress.

Brandis received his first starring role at age fourteen in The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter as Bastian Bux, a young boy who returns to a world of wonder on the wings of his imagination. That same year, Brandis played the young "Stuttering Bill" Denbrough, the main character in the 1990 miniseries of Stephen King's It, based on the terrifying novel by Stephen King and which I watched with my face half covered by my hands.  Wasn't John Ritter the adult "Stuttering Bill" Denbrough?  I can't remember.  

Following this, Brandis appeared in Sidekicks co-starring Chuck Norris and Ladybugs with actor/comedian Rodney Dangerfield. Around the age of seventeen, Brandis landed one of his best known roles as scientific prodigy Lucas Wolenczak in Steven Spielberg's futuristic science fiction series seaQuest DSV. The role propelled him into teen idol status.  He was a hottie! During the run of seaQuest DSV, he also voiced Mozenrath, a young evil sorcerer and necromancer in Disney's animated series Aladdin.


In addition to acting, Brandis also directed several independent films and authored screenplays. During his stint on seaQuest DSV, he co-wrote an episode of the series entitled "The Siamese Dream." He also produced and directed the short film The Slainville Boys shortly before his death and which was released posthumously.

He kept his personal life low profile, but it is reported that he dated actress/singer Tatiana Ali from 1995-1998, both of whom pictured at left.  There weren't any arrests, no salacious gossip.  No reported drug use, paparazzi snapshots of him frequenting clubs. 

There was, other than his alleged depression, no reason for taking his own life.  And it's not "just" depression; I know the perils of depression and other such disorders painfully well and the devastation is something I've experienced personally.  But it's always such a tragedy when depression leads someone to suicide.  Possibly because I've been there.  Possibly because I know that everything usually rights itself in the end.  

It got him, though, and he attempted suicide and later died from his injuries.

The Los Angeles Police Department's news release states:

On November 11, 2003, at about 11:40 p.m., a friend of Jonathan Brandis called police to report that the actor had attempted suicide at his apartment, located in the 600 block of Detroit Avenue. Paramedics from the Los Angeles Fire department responded and transported Brandis to Cedars Sinai Medical Center where he eventually died from his injuries. Brandis was pronounced dead by hospital staff on November 12, 2003, at about 2:45 p.m.

Jonathan-Brandis-Adult  While Brandis did not leave a suicide note, friends said he was lonely and depressed about his career, which had slowly declined in recent years. One friend admitted that Brandis drank heavily and had mentioned that he might commit suicide. He was allegedly upset when his appearance in Hart's War, a role he hoped would be his comeback, was cut from the film.

We'll never know the reasons he chose to take his life, but he was charming and his acting was truly a pleasure to watch.  He is missed.

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Katie Kat

I remember having such a crush on him. It's a shame he felt his lagging career made him someone not worthy to live. Depression is such an evil mistress.


This is from 2003? How am I just hearing about this now? Sad.

Apryl's Antics

I had a boss who whistled a happy tune when he was really pissed. It was eerie. Funny enough, I was just talking about him yesterday. My boss. Not Jonathan Brandis.


I'm confused....why is this being posted 7 years after the fact as if it just happened?


It's part of her Celebrity Kids Gone Bad series. It didn't read to me like it just happened, but then I was a big fan of his, so maybe that's why?

Oh, and "Stuttering Bill" Denbrough as an adult was played by Richard Thomas. John Ritter played the heavy kid all growed up.


@Katie Kat: It really, really is. I'm so tired of it. So fucking tired.
@JenGid: Well, we were much younger then. I only vaguely knew at the time and confirmed it only when researching for this article.
@Apryl's Antics: It is SO FUCKING WEIRD. It's such a weird response to anger.
@Michelle: What Rebecca said. Every Tuesday I pick a celebrity kid gone bad, past or present.
@Rebecca: Thanks for explaining and for "getting" it. :) And Richard Thomas! Okay, I remember that now. That was a good match, no? Poor John Ritter. I miss him.

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