Following the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his young daughter dying in a helicopter accident outside of Los Angeles in January 2020, his Lakers teammate, Rick Fox, was rumored to be among the other seven aboard the craft who perished. “My family went through, in the midst of all this, something that I couldn’t have imagined them experiencing,” Fox told “Inside the NBA.”
A fake press release posted on the iNewswire Web site in March 2006 claiming that Ferrell was killed in a paragliding accident in Southern California when a wind gust caused him to lose crash into trees.
Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake
As a joke, two Dallas jockeys claimed a car accident took the lives of pop stars perished, who were dating at the time. “The first thing I did was call Britney,” Timberlake told ABC News in 2001. “Since the beginning, [when] people knew about our relationship, there’s always been things that have been said that were totally not true, but this just, like, took it to a whole ‘nother planet.”
Rumors began circulating in April 2003 that the “Complicated’ singer killed herself after her grandfather’s death. In recent weeks, Twitter gave new fuel to that fire, igniting a conspiracy theory that the Lavigne known today was actually look-alike singer Melissa Vandella. As the theory goes, the suits at Lavigne’s label cooked up the cover-up scheme so they could continue to release her songs.
Conspiracy loving Beatles fans believe that McCartney died in 1966 and everything that’s happened to “him” since then is courtesy of a look-alike and sound-alike. Not only that, they believe clues to McCartney’s fate were revealed in songs written by fellow musicians George Harrison and John Lennon. Like, Lennon’s “A Day in the Life,” where the lyrics “Paul is dead, miss him, miss him”… which can only be heard when the song is played backward.
Social media, again, ran amuck Dec. 2016 with the theory that West’s uncharacteristic behavior at the time was because it wasn’t really him… it was a clone. You read that right. Canceling his tour, dying his hear, having a public meltdown and dissing Beyonce and Jay Z while cozying up to Donald Trump was enough proof for some.
The actor/comedian has been the subject of false reports of his death more than once. On Aug. 30, 2012, has was said to have been killed in a snowboard accident and, most recently, was again the subject of internet buzz after the death of his brother Charlie confused.
Facebook was the starting point for a post about the death of the “Fate of the Furious” actor went viral. The post linked to what they said was a video report that requested permission to access the viewer’s accounts. If granted, the “RIP Vin Diesel” post was sent as spam to everyone on that user’s friends list.
LinkBeef, which was the breeding ground for several celebrity death hoaxes, reported on Jan. 13, 2017, that Sandler was found dead of an apparent suicide and even cited their source as Marin County Police Department in California and “quoted” Sandler’s “utterly heartbroken” wife, Jackie.
Remember that fake news about Eddie Murphy dying in a snowboarding accident? Facebook tried the same story with Washington in Nov. 2011.
Although trafficforgoods.site’s July 2016 headline that “Nicolas Cage passed away because of a serious Motorcycle Accident” and the body of the story said he died when he “lost control of his snowboard and struck a tree,” social media took the bait and ran with it. Another fake news outlet picked up the story, tweaked it and added a Photoshopped pic of a motorcycle crash scene, Cage’s face and a CNN chyron.
Following Hillary Clinton’s appearance at a 9/11 memorial in Sept. 2016 in which she appeared to collapse while getting into a van, ABC News weekend anchor Joe Torres said on that evening’s newscast, “We begin with the breaking news about Hillary Clinton’s death.” The anchor meant to say “health” rather than “death,” but Twitter nonetheless had a field day, sparking speculation that the woman who emerged from her daughter Chelesa’s home a few hours later was a look-alike because the former first lady had died.
BBC News shocked the music world when they reported the Jamaican-American singer was found dead at his home weeks after he crashed his jet ski accident in a bridge in Miami. “Today” caught up with the 21-year-old three months later about his near-death experience.
“Jackie is alive and well,” read a note on the action star’s Facebook page following internet buzz that he died. “He did not suffer a heart attack and die, as was reported on many social networking sites and in online news reports.”
Cher was added to the celebrity death hoax list of victims after a “R.I.P. Cher” Facebook page was created in Sept. 2016. Although the post concluded with the message “Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page,” wasn’t a clue that it was a fake, the reports of her passing went viral and attracted nearly a million likes.
When the “Home Alone” star was targeted by death rumors in Nov. 2014, he debunked the reports by taking to Instagram and posting a photo parodying a scene from “Weekend at Bernie’s.”
People are so in love with Betty White that when her name trends on Twitter, they freak out with worry that she’s met her maker. As recently as May 10, a tweet popped up saying that she was found dead and another one said her publicist confirmed it. Shortly thereafter, someone set up a GoFunMe to protect her from harm.
A fake news story reporting Eminem‘s death in a car accident went viral in 2009. The story went as far as to blame the rapper for the crash, saying he swerved into an oncoming truck because he was on his cell phone.
And here we go again with that same snowboarding accident report that keeps popping up with the same facts and only the name of the “deceased” changed. Yup, Carrey was said to have died in April 2016. Even weirder, necropedia.org posted his “anticipated” obituary with a May 20, 2017 date.
Never-ending rumors of Dion’s death on social media do not sit well the singer, in great part because each time one sprouts wings and flies, she has to ease her aging mother’s fears. “The thing that worries me is my mum,” according to Digital Spy. “It makes me a little mad – she’s 86 years old and if I’m not on the phone telling her I’m OK four seconds after it’s on the news… it doesn’t matter what they say, it’s the impact it has on your family.”
Jewelry can kill you, or at least that’s the rumor that started after the singer accidentally ripped out an earring during a Brooklyn concert and blood began running down her face. A Facebook page claimed she had died because she didn’t seek medical attention. The BeyHive was not happy about the hoax.
The Twitter account for Black’s band Tenacious D was hacked in June 2016 and the culprits posted this unsettling message: “It is with a heavy heart I am to announce that Jack Black passed away last night at 3:37 am. The cause of death is yet unknown.” They later cleared up the mess, posting, “WE had our Twitter account hacked. We can assure you that Jack is ALIVE and WELL and that this was a sick ‘prank.’”
According to Breaking 13 News, the “Community” actor died in his sleep after suffering a heart attack on Jan. 6, 2016.
Fans of the musician got a little confused in the early ’70s after reading Melody Maker magazine’s satirical review of Cooper’s concert in the form of a mock obit. He later issued a statement saying, “I’m alive, and drunk as usual.”
The “Gladiator” took matters into his own hands in June 2010 by tweeting, “Unable to answer tweets fell off a mountain in Austria, all over red rover. Don’t know how I got there, but the media are never wrong. G’Bye.”
The “Wrecking Ball” singer has dodged the social medium Grim Reaper more than once. In 2008, she was said to have been killed by a hit and run driver, and in 2009 socialite Peaches Geldolf tweeted that a “friend in the industry” texted her that Cyrus had died. Cyrus’ appearances at the time during a London concert put those issues to rest.
A Facebook post went viral in April 2014 saying that The Rock died while filming a stunt for “Fast & Furious 7.” He posted a message to his fans on Facebook saying, “Rumors of my death are false – Im still ‘Bringin’ It’ 24hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – including leap year!” A tweet of his took a more direct approach: “I would love to meet the person who is starting rumors of my death – to show them how a dead foot feels up their ass.”
The web site Cronica MX posted an article in Feb. 2015 reporting the NBA superstar died on a heart attack. They took it a step further by producing a video with spliced footage of a breaking news segment and a tearful anchor.
Martin Lawrence was reportedly found dead in a Los Angeles hotel room by a maid named Verna Del Sosa in 2015. Lawrence never mentioned it directly, but he did make his un-dead self known visible on social media in the days following his “death.”
A BBC News video uploaded on YouTube on Sept. 24, 2010 announced Madonna was dead. They were, obviously, wrong.
The rumors of Willie Nelson‘s imminent demise have been exaggerated, his publicist says, disputing reports the country music icon is on death’s door. “He’s perfectly fine,” Elaine Schock told the Associated Press on Wednesday, attempting to finally shut down rumors sparked by a March 13 Radar Online story that described the 83-year-old as “deathly ill” and said his lungs weren’t strong enough to perform. A “bad cold” forced Nelson to cancel several shows in January and February, but he was back on stage by Feb. 16, when he played at a San Antonio rodeo. And last week he performed at a Houston stadium for 75,000 fans, where he appeared to be in good health and had no problems singing.
on July 4, 2011, a hacker collective called “The Script Kiddies” took control of Fox News’s politics Twitter feed and posted that the incumbent President had been assassinated during a campaigning event in Iowa.
News reports popped up on Jan. 12, 2016 that Sean Penn was found murdered in his Malibu home and that authorities were investigating that El Chapo might have ordered a hit on the actor/director who interviewed him shortly before.
On December 3, 2014, a fake news report circulated on the internet claiming that the singer had been found dead at home. In response, Rose tweeted “If I’m dead do I still have to pay taxes?”
An Aug. 28, 2015 post on MSMBC.co (not to be mistaken for MSNBC.com) reported that the former Governator died following a heart attack. But this was one time he did not say “Hasta la vista, baby.”
If you believe social media, Bieber has been “dead” more times than you can count. There were suicide rumors in 2009, which resurfaced in 2010), along with a shooting in a nightclub and an overdose. Then there was #RIPJustinBieber, which trended on Twitter in Jan. 2011.
The Sundance Film Festival founder’s publicist stepped in to call reports of his death “a sick hoax.” The fake news initialed from Britain’s Sky News, which said he had fallen off a “golf buggy” in Santa Monica.
The “Empire” star was barraged with tweets from concerned fans in March 2016, who were just checking to make sure she was still alive, following post saying she had died from an asthma attack. Sidibe assured everyone she was fine, but joking that maybe she was dead, if her “version of Hell is people believing poorly written articles about me.”
A tweak to Lohan’s Wikipedia page in July 2011 cited her death and credited E! News as their source – which was false. But the news spread, thanks to a fake Kim Kardashian Twitter account.
The former Disney star was said to have fallen to her death on the Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand.
May 2011 was not a pleasant month for Smith, who was reported killed in a car accident, after an overdose and falling off that same cliff where Hilary Duff supposedly perished.
A Sept. 2015 tweet from a Canadian journalist reporting that Santana’s body was found in a car sparked immediate denials from his peeps. “He is alive and well and enjoying his morning!” his rep told USA Today. Team Santana add to that message, posting on their Facebook page, “… Thank you all for your concern, but the reports of his passing are false.”
After the internet announced the comedian’s death, he tweeted, “To the people behind the foolishness, I’m not sure you see how upsetting this is.”
While Paris Hilton was serving jail time in 2007 for a DUI, the internet spread the word that she had been stabbed to death by a fellow inmate. The story was originally posted on-line and made to look as if it was coming from CNN.
Apparently, 2009 was not a good year for Swift. She was said to have been in a fatal car accident and then, months later, died from an allergic reaction to sleeping pills, which spread like wildfire on Facebook and YouTube.
The pop singer-turned-actor was also the victim of death hoaxes twice in 2009. One report said he died of cardiac arrest due to complications with his diabetes, while another said his heart stopped after a lap dance in a Dallas strip joint.
Although CNN had initially been accused of claiming that Freeman had died, it was actually a Twitter user named @originalcjizzle, who later wrote, “I had no intention of things turning out this way.”
The “Scrubs” actor was reported dead in 2009 by a fake CNN.Com page. The perpetrator of the “joke” later posted an apology, saying in part, “… Thanks for (apparently) taking it lightly, since I haven’t gotten a letter about a lawsuit yet. Just so you know, I’m a huge fan; that’s the only reason I made this page, believe it or not. Also, sorry for upsetting your mother.”
Film legend Bob Hope’s death was announced five years prematurely in 1998 when a pre-written obituary was accidentally published on the Associated Press website. Unfortunately, the erroneous report of his “death” was then announced by the United States House of Representatives live on C-Span.
We couldn’t leave out humorist Mark Twain, who became known for, among many other things, one of history’s most misquoted quotes. In 1897, Twain responded to a journalist’s inquiry about his health by writing, “James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine, was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London, but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness; the report of my death was an exaggeration.”
With an estimated worth skyrocketing to $171 billion during the coronavirus pandemic as homebound people are forced to stay out of stores and shop online, Amazon CEO and president Jeff Bezos became the target of rumors on July 7, 2020 that said he had died, causing #ripjeffbezos to trend on Twitter.