Disney Channel Stars You May Not Know Died
There’s no secret that Disney makes up a hefty chunk of our childhoods. From Mickey Mouse to “The Descendants,” the Disney brand trickles from generation to generation, impacting children’s first views of the world. In addition to providing entertainment for children and pre-teens, Disney as a brand is known for being a gateway to international fame. Disney has produced a number of household names in the industry, such as Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, the Jonas Brothers, Raven Symone and Miley Cryus.
Sadly, not every Disney alumnus has the perfect, cookie-cutter story. Aside from the often-quirky roles they play, many Disney stars have dark stories behind the scenes. The pressures of transitioning from child star to an adult entertainer isn’t easy to handle for most, and fame can have an adverse effect on these stars. For the following celebrities, their lives were cut short from different factors, such as poor health or mental health issues. Keep scrolling to find out the heartbreaking ways these Disney stars died.
Marque 'Tate' Lynche
Marque ‘Tate’ Lynche was one of the many Disney stars that found success after leaving the network. Lynche starred as one of the 35 Mousketeers on “All New Mickey Mouse Club,” alongside Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, and Christina Aguilera. Shortly after, the actor made his Broadway debut in “The Lion King” in 2000, per Hello Magazine. Lynche notably appeared on the third season of American Idol, becoming a semi-finalist.
Lynche died on Dec. 6, 2016 at the age of 34. Per The Wrap, Lynch’s roommate found the latter lifeless in their New York City apartment. Although investigators initially found Lynche’s death to be suspicious, the New York City Chief Medical Examiner later ruled his cause of death as “acute and chronic alcoholism,” per People. Lynche reportedly suffered from depression after his mom died. He is said to have left the entertainment industry with the intent to focus on his music.
Former “MMC” co-star Dale Godboldo released a statement to People, reflecting on the loss of Lynche: “Knowing Marque during the MMC days – as my little brother – I knew he was hugely talented with a passion for the arts, and a passion for life,” Godboldo said. “But it was more recently while collaborating on an ‘MMC’ related project that I got to know Marque as a man.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.
Lee Thompson Young
“The Famous Jett Jackson” star Lee Thompson Young tragically died on Aug. 19, 2013 at the age of 29 years old, per E! News. According to his death certificate, Young died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The former Disney star’s body was found in his North Hollywood apartment after he failed to appear for his scheduled call time for production for TNT’s “Rizzoli & Isles.”
Per the New York Daily News, Young was being treated for bipolar disorder and depression. The Los Angeles County coroner’s report said the actor was known to take his medications” and “appeared okay” when he last spoke with his doctor nearly a week prior to his death. Lithium capsules and Quetiapine Fumarate tablets were reportedly found in his home, as both drugs were detected in his blood.
In honor of his memory, his family launched the Lee Thompson Young Foundation, aimed to spread awareness and combat the stigma of mental illness. “It sort of makes it okay. People know that Lee wasn’t the only one. And for them to see everything he accomplished in the 29 years, it’s more than some people accomplish their whole lives,” Young’s sister, Tamu Lewis, told WIS News 10. “He was able to do that with a mental illness and, yes, it ended tragically but, through that we’re inspired.”
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
Cameron Boyce’s career in Disney is quite memorable. Appearing in a number of the network’s shows and movies, we watched him age in shows such as “Jessie” and “The Descendants.” Aside from his acting, Boyce was a philanthropist. In 2014, he appeared in an American Red Cross spot to discuss the basics of emergency preparedness. The Disney star was also a recipient of the Pioneering Spirit award at the 2019 Thirst Gala for helping raise more than $77,000 to bring clean water to Swaziland.
Boyce died on July 6, 2019 at the age of 20 years old. He reportedly had a seizure in his Hollywood home, as his roommate found him unresponsive. His family confirmed to Extra that he suffered from epilepsy, a condition that triggers recurrent seizures.
What people remember most about Boyce is his desire to impact the world. In his 2019 Thirst Gala acceptance speech, he said as he quoted Denzel Washington, “I’ve never seen a U-Haul behind a hearse…We don’t get to take what we have right now with us. We all go, and I hope that all of you really think about what it is that you want to leave. We all have material things …but what you leave should be bigger than you. And I really believe that.”
Nikita Pearl Waligwa
Nikita Pearl Waligwa, who made her debut in Disney’s 2016 Ugandan film “Queen of Katwe,” died on February 15, 2020. She was 15 years old. Per Deadline, Waligwa was diagnosed with a brain tumor prior to her death. She was initially diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016, and her film family worked to get treatment in India. Waligwa recovered in 2017, however, her tumor returned in 2019.
Waligwa played the role of Gloria in “Queen Of Katwe,” a friend of Phioma who explains the rules of chess to her. She stars alongside Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo. Her “Queen of Katwe” co-stars shared emotional tributes to the late actor. Nyong’o posted on Instagram, “She played Gloria with such vibrancy. In her real life she had the enormous challenge of battling brain cancer.”
Gloria Nansubuga, the Ugandan chess star who was played by Waligwa, told BBC, “I couldn’t bear to hear that someone who acted as me in a film had died. I loved her from my heart. The aforementioned Disney stars have all played major parts of our childhoods, and continue to be loved and celebrated by many. We send our condolences to their families and loved ones.
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