1) Charlton Heston- I open this list with the great Charlton Heston, because he is the great grand poobah of this list. Ignoring TV roles, let’s start with everything that happened after Any Given Sunday, which was probably his last good film. He followed that with the notorious flop Town and Country, then a voice over part in Cats and Dogs, an uncredited role in Tim Burton’s Planet Of The Apes, the awful The Order, another voiceover in the awful looking Ben Hur cartoon, and then two films no one has ever heard of or seen. One of them needed so much work, it was released 2 years after his death. Poor Charlton. Oh, by the way, he didn’t even work on The Order with Heath Ledger. He worked on The Order with Jean Claude Van Damme. That’s his last “seen” film role.
2) Jimmy Stewart- His final film role, for the man who played in classics like Mr Smith Goes To Washington, Rear Window, It’s A Wonderful Life, and Vertigo… was a voice-over part in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. For someone who was mostly retired, and only took five roles between 1978 and 1991, it seems a particularly odd choice to end his career on, especially since he didn’t die until 1997.
3) Orson Welles- Technically, he played “Danny’s Friend” in Someone To Love, starring someone named Henry Jaglom. I don’t even know who that is. The film before that? He played a planet in Transformers: The movie. No, that’s not a fat joke. Before that he also did voiceover work in some terrible looking animation called The Enchanted Journey, which to its credit, has a decent IMDB score.
4) Brittany Murphy- Yes, I’m saying Brittany Murphy is a great actress. In case you missed Girl Interrupted, Don’t Say A Word, Clueless, 8 Mile, and some other good roles of hers, you might not have known this. Before she dies, Hollywood had abandoned her, and her final roles are a string of straight to video mishaps that no one cared about. One film is so awful, it’s just now coming out, and Murphy died in 2009. That film is Something Wicked, which has dethroned the awful Abandoned as her final film. Before Abandoned, she was in MegaFault, a film so bad it has a 3.1 on IMDB.
5) Chris Farley- Even though he had a short career, Almost Heroes was terrible. It was an awful final film for Chris Farley. He could only follow it up with a cameo in Dirty Work.
6) George C. Scott- This one is kind of a cheat. Technically, his final film role is great. It was in the TV adaptation of Inherit The Wind, where he played Matthew Harrison Brady. His final theatrical release, however, was the awful Glora remake starring Sharon Stone, which is a notorious bomb. It’s a film so awful, BoxOfficeMojo.com lists it as having only a 2 week theatrical release. It opened in over 1,500 locations, meaning that 1,500 locations all decided after two weeks there was no point in showing this film anymore. That’s an extremely rare circumstance.
7) Brad Renfro- I understand that Renfro was difficult to insure toward the end of his career. Drugs were a problem. He ended his career with forgettable films like The Informers, 10th and Wolf, and something called Hollywood Flies. He also had films like Mummy an the Armadillo and The Job, with Daryl Hannah. Chances are, you thought his last film role was in 2001’s Ghost World, or 2002’s Deuces Wild. He died in 2008.
8) Dennis Hopper- Man, Dennis Hopper would do anything for a paycheck. That’s probably why his last film was Alpha and Omega. Why do so many actors die after doing voiceover work in crappy animated films? His last “live” work is even worse. An American Carol.
9) Peter Falk- Columbo’s last movie is some awful looking movie no one saw called American Cowslip, starring someone named Ronnie Gene Blevins. One poster makes it look like a thriller, the other makes it look like a comedy. Before that, he was in the terrible Nicolas Cage movie Next, which flopped at the box office.
10) Bela Lugosi- I’d be remiss, and also not much of a film historian, if I didn’t mention the most historic example of this. Bela Lugosi, who was famous for being Dracula, died during the production of Plan 9 From Outer Space. Plan 9 is typically recognized as one of the worst films of all time.