The Mysterious Death Of Alexa Kenin

(Alexa Kenin. Picture credit: hfamousfix)

As you may know if you're subscribed to my blog or follow me elsewhere on social media, I'm a huge fan of the 1980s and I also like reading and researching true crime cases. I've written about a few cases on this blog (most recently the disappearance of Heather Elvis: Part one & two) and I will be including more cases in the future.

I try to write about cases that not many people know about (the Heather Elvis case is quite high profile but I was shocked to see that a lot of people didn't know about it), some maybe solved, others unsolved (interest in true crime seems to have blown up the past few years with the Netflix documentaries and beauty guru's on youtube including true crime cases in their videos. I have always been interested in criminology, the psychology of serial killers and why they do what they do, and studied criminology and psychology at university.

I also think it's important to help spread the knowledge of someones disappearance as people out there may have seen that person or know something and reading a blog post or watching a youtube video might jog their memory. I also write about cases that were solved, for example, with famous people who were murdered like Rebecca Schaeffer (who was so beautiful, talented and had the world at her feet) and not many people today, especially younger people remember or know who she was and I find that quite sad, so I like to write about these types of cases to help make sure that these people are not forgotten and still celebrated for all that they achieved when they were alive. I'm sure Rebecca would have gone on to have a fantastic career and may have had an Oscar by now if her life wasn't taken so horribly. I will include Rebecca's case on my blog in a future post, once I'm 100% with all the details, so look out for that one.

I hope to cover some cases that took place in the 1980s and I was thinking about this the other day, Alexa Kenin came to mind. As I mentioned before about Rebecca, Alexa's young life and acting career was cut short and a lot of people either don't know who she was or remember a little bit about her from her role in the 80s movie 'Pretty In Pink' and that's about it. So in this post I'm going to tell you a little bit about Alexa and the strange circumstances that surrounded her death at the age of just 23.

Grab a hot drink, get comfortable and let's begin....

Alexa's full name was 'Alexa Jordan Kenin' and she was born on the 16th of February 1962 in New York. Her mother was an actress and her dad was a doctor. Alexa's parents divorced when she was very young and her mother remarried a fellow actor.

Alexa began acting in 1972 in a Christmas TV special called 'The House Without A Christmas Tree'.

At the age of 10, Alexa was originally offered the role of Regan MacNeil in the horror classic 'The Exorcist' but she turned it down. (I imagine that she regretted that decision years later but how was she to know at the time that it would be so successful).

She was quite a busy little actress through the 70s and early 80s and even worked alongside Hollywood legends such as Bette Davis and Clint Eastwood. One thing's for sure, Alexa was on the path to an amazing career and she had achieved so much as a young star that some actors twice/three times her age could only dream about.

When Alexa turned 17, her mother divorced her step dad and they moved to Los Angeles. During this time, Alexa attended 'Beverly Hills High School' whilst maintaining her acting career.

Alexa continued to act in supporting roles through to the early 80s, some of these included: 'Little Darlings' (1980), 'Honkytonk Man' (1982) and 'Pretty In Pink' (which was released after her death) which was one of her last films and seen as her breakout role but her actual last official film was 'Animal Behaviour', this was released in 1989.

In 1985, Alexa took on her most famous role, playing Andie's (played by 80s icon Molly Ringwald) friend 'Jena' in the 80s cult classic Pretty In Pink. The film was written by the legendary John Hughes

At this point, Alexa had the world at her feet, she was working alongside the up and coming stars of the famous 80s Brat Pack. She had a fantastic career having previously worked with Hollywood legends and it seemed that this was going to be her next step up the ladder. At 23 she had a lot of experience and talent beyond her years and a lot of people who knew her said that she had the makings of an amazing actress. She would've gone onto a really bright future.

Sadly however, it was not to be. Shortly after she finished filming 'Pretty In Pink', Alexa was found dead in her New York apartment. No details were released about the cause of death at that time. 

(Alexa starred alongside Molly Ringwald in 80s cult classic 'Pretty In Pink'. Picture credit: famousfix)

What really happened to Alexa?

Well, because the newspapers (here's an article about Alexa's death from the New York Times) had not specified what exactly caused Alexa's death, the rumour mill went into overdrive and all sorts of stories were flying around. A lot of people couldn't understand how someone who was only 23 years old and had no history of severe illness could die so suddenly.

Some of the rumours going around at the time included: 

- Alexa was diabetic
- Alexa had a bad reaction to her asthma medication and died due to those complications.
- She took a deliberate or accidental overdose of heroin.

and the most shocking of all (which spread like wildfire and is still reported on certain sites today) was the story that Alexa was beaten to death by an ex boyfriend. There was also a rumour that she may have been killed by an obsessive fan but the the rumour about the ex boyfriend seemed to stick in people's minds. 

So, what was the truth?

From what I've read and researched, nobody knows for sure. On her death certificate it is noted that she died from ''Complications due to asthma'' but some people claim that this is a cover up as her family didn't want people to know that she had died from drugs. 

Other people are adamant about the ex boyfriend story but if that was the case, surely an arrest would be made and a trial would've taken place, there would've been news articles all over the place reporting the story.

Here's what other people have had to say about the circumstances surrounding Alexa's death:

John Cryer (who played 'Duckie' in 'Pretty In Pink'): ''There are several mysteries about her death. At the time we were told she had an allergic reaction to an asthma inhaler, but I heard years later that she had actually been beaten to death by her boyfriend or something like that. To this day, I don't know exactly what happened''. (Source: The 80s Server).

When Molly Ringwald was asked about Alexa she said that she believed that Alexa died of an overdose (I can't find anything to confirm whether Molly had indeed said this but I do know that the cast of Pretty In Pink were originally told that Alexa had died of asthma complications).

According to IMDB, she was murdered by her ex boyfriend.

Someone on a forum said that they knew Alexa's father and he had told them he sadly lost a daughter to drugs but didn't go into details. 

From 'Pretty In Pink' was dedicated to Alexa Kenin who died shortly after wrapping the film in 1985, at first the cast were told that she died of complications related to asthma but it eventually came out that she was killed in her apartment by an ex boyfriend.'. 

Someone left this post on IMDB: ''I'm writing this on the anniversary of Alexa Kenin's birthday. Alexa was a close friend of mine and much loved by all who knew her, especially me. I must correct any rumours because I feel that the truth is paramount to speculation. Tragically she died of a heroin overdose in her New York apartment on or about September 6th or 7th of 1985. Alexa had used heroin recreationally and was not an addict or daily user''. 

On Alexa's wikipedia page her death is listed as: 'unknown'. 

What are my thoughts on this? Well, I've seen a lot of people saying that they believe the ex boyfriend theory but like I mentioned before, if that was true there would be police involved, court cases, it would be all over the news. I think that some people mixed up Alexa's case with the death of the actress Dominique Dunne who was murdered by her ex boyfriend in 1982. 

The comments that the person wrote on the IMDB site sound plausible to me, that Alexa may have died of an accidental heroin overdose. In the 1980s a lot of people took drugs and some were lucky, it didn't end in tragedy but some people took them as a way to fit in it was part of the party scene. I could imagine Alexa taking something every once in a while to be sociable and on this occasion she accidentally took too much. I can also understand her family not wanting to share these details, they probably wanted to protect their daughter's image. This is just my theory, I could be wrong, I could be right.

Whatever the truth may be, I don't think we'll ever know the exact circumstances. What's known for sure is that it was a tragic end to a young life that was cut short at the age of 23. I often wonder what Alexa would be like now: she would be in her 50s, no doubt with so many more films under her belt, children possibly and she'd might have been taking part in all the 'Pretty In Pink' reunions with fellow cast members.

When 'Pretty In Pink' was released after her death, a tribute to Alexa and the film's set decorator 'Bruce Weintraub' was included in the final credits. 

Alexa is buried in New Montefiore cemetery in New York. 

I hope that wherever Alexa is, that she knows how much she is missed and that people still enjoy the performances that she gave in the 70s and 80s. She's a part of cinema history and will always be remembered fondly as feisty Jena from 'Pretty In Pink' 

Thank you as always for checking out my latest post, hope you'll join me next Sunday for another case. You can find me on Social Media or email me at / 


  1. Personally from reading this I don't think we will ever know the true story behind her death.

    You've done some fantastic research here, covering all areas to prevent giving out the wrong information.

    - Nyxie

  2. They need to make a movie about this, if she died of drugs then they need to make a story about it.

    1. It would be interesting and a good tribute to her too. Thanks for reading and commenting : ) x

  3. Thanks for the info. Just watched Little Darlings after decades and was curious. She was great in the film. Sounds like heroine OD is the most plausible.

  4. Just saw her in an episode of The Facts Of Life--had to look her name up--so sad to find out the results. RIP!!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting : ) x

    2. There is a woman on the dodgeball movie that looks exactly like Alexa kenin she is wearing a dark blue jean jacket and a black shirt and she's standing behind one of the girls in dodgeball on this photo Gfycat
      Bernice GIF

  5. Thank you for covering this story so thoroughly. There’s precious little factual information about Alexa online - just rumors and speculation. I hoped someone would get a copy of her death certificate one day.

    One point - I’m doubting Alexa’s family to got the coroner/pathologist to state her death was natural in an effort avoid embarrassment. I don’t doubt the possibility that such a thing ever happened but in this case, it seems a bit needless. Either way, it’s still a sad situation all around. Kenin was a delightful actress. It would have been interesting to see how her career would have progressed had she lived.

    1. There's a woman that looks like her on the movie dodgeball a look alike she's on the steroids scene the woman is wearing a dark blue Jean jacket and has gold hair and dark skin I like to know that woman's name.

  6. Thanks very much for doing this piece on the late great Alexa Kenin. I just re-watched "Little Darlings" (1980) and "Pretty in Pink" (1986) and I'm still in shock that such an amazing talent was gone so quickly. (would you possibly also do a piece like this on Bunky Jones, another terrible tragedy of an 80's actress, in Bunky's case doing a few 80's horror movies then completely disappearing for 27 years until being found dead in 2015). Thanks for your great work in keeping the memories of such brilliant talented actresses like Alexa Kenin alive.

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, I really appreciate it. I have made a note of Bunky Jones and will cover her story in an upcoming post, thanks again x x

  7. Being that she had been dead for a few days it might not have been possible to decide her exact cause of death. Her parents were probably in shock and didn’t want to report the cause.

  8. I wonder if they hid her cause of death, because they were afraid it would be bad press while the movie was coming out.It could also the family didn't release it do to privacy.

  9. I hate to break it to you guys, but death certificates are official documents and the county coroner is obligated to write all factors known to contribute to that person's death based on their medical records and the condition of the body. For such a young person to die, certainly an investigation would have taken place, particularly if there were any signs of overdose or other foul play like being beaten to death (murder). If you really want to get to the bottom of this, then see if there is a coroner's report. However, it's totally possible for a young and otherwise healthy person to die of complications related to asthma. It happened to a girl who went to school with me when we were in college. In any case, Thanks to reruns, I recall Alexa Kenin being in ABC Afterschool Specials, Little Darlings, and Pretty In Pink. We recall her with fondness, and our bond with her is mostly posthumous. I'm doubting that her death was actually suppressed, it just didn't blow up how things happen these days. She died in 1985 after principal photography had ended and before the movie was released in 1986. What I really want to know is why an asthmatic girl was dragging on cigarettes. I guess it was something everyone just did without questioning back then. Here is a link again to the original 1985 NY Times Obit:

    PS I don't think she missed out by not being attached to The Excorcist. Linda Blair's career wasn't all that phenomenal, and perhaps her mother and agent thought it might be a bit much for her, considering the subject matter is the stuff of nightmares.

    1. Very true but being a celebrity back then, I'm sure cause of death would be whatever the family wanted. They wouldn't want anyone to think bad on the celebrity just my opinion

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  11. Alexa had died the day after my 32nd birthday

  12. Drugs is the answer I m afraid

    1. You don't actually know that for a fact.

  13. Hate to say it, but 95% of people who die young without a underlining health problem is...... Drugs. Occam's razor says Drugs.

    1. Except Alexa *did* have an underlying health condition - Asthma.
      And she was smoking.
      I have a friend who died at 18 or 19 from an asthma attack.