Fake News, Real Panic: 15 Celebrity Death Hoaxes That Sent Fans Into Frenzy

Apparently you’re not considered a celebrity if you didn’t have at least one death hoax under your name. Most of the following celebrities had more than one oopsie, being forced to read outpouring words of support following their death on several occasions. Betty White, Jeff Goldblum, and even Oprah are some of the celebrity death hoaxes targets.

1. Morgan Freeman (2012)

celebrity death hoaxes: Morgan Freeman

Rumors spread like wildfire on social media claiming that the beloved actor Morgan Freeman had died due to an artery rupture. Thankfully, he was very much alive, and he even joked about the hoax later. “Like Mark Twain, I keep reading that I have died. I hope those stories are not true… But if they are, I’m happy to report that my afterlife seems identical to my life when I was alive. I did go to Las Vegas to begin work on the film “Last Vegas.” That is anything but a death sentence.“

2. Betty White (2014)

celebrity death hoaxes: Betty White
The beloved Golden Girls star became the subject of death hoaxes quite a couple of times, people kept expecting her to suddenly pass away. So, naturally, when she did so in December 2021, people thought it was still a hoax. It took checking several major news outlets to get the confirmation.

3. Jackie Chan (2013)

celebrity death hoaxes: Jackie Chan

A Facebook page titled “R.I.P. Jackie Chan” garnered thousands of likes and shares. However, it was a cruel prank, and Jackie Chan was and is safe and well. His reaction was as expected: “Today, everybody called to congratulate me on my rumored engagement. Afterward, everybody called me to see if I was alive.”

4. Rowan Atkinson (2012)

Rowan Atkinson

A rumor claiming that the Mr. Bean actor had died by suicide circulated online and for some reason, it fooled most people. It was so serious that even his wiki page displayed that day as the day of his death. The guy that tweeted the hoax tweeted later on “Shutting down now. Sorry guys, RIP Rowan Atkins was just a joke. Sorry for the matter, I never thought it would be that viral”

5. Paul McCartney (1966)

Paul McCartney
The “Paul is dead” conspiracy theory that brought so much frenzy into the music world. Fans thought that their famous Abbey Road cover was somehow a funeral procession since he was the odd one out, aka no shoes. They even went as far as saying he was replaced by a lookalike. McCartney ended up shutting down the rumor in the most English way possible: “If the conclusion you reach is that I’m dead, then you’re wrong, because I’m alive and living in Scotland.”

6. Eddie Murphy (2012)

Eddie Murphy
Reports surfaced that the comedian had tragically perished in a snowboarding accident in Zermatt, Switzerland. Murphy was alive and well, later making fun of the hoax on Twitter.

7. Celine Dion (2019)

Celine Dion
Cause of death this time: a plane crash. Luckily the post was flagged by Facebook Claim Check soon enough but some people kept on posting RIP messages on their social media accounts.

8. Abe Vigoda (1982)

Abe Vigoda
This can be considered the original death hoax and here’s why. The story kicks off in 1982 when People magazine mistakenly labeled the Barney Miller actor as “the late” Abe Vigoda. At that time, he was 60 years old. The fact that he missed a wrap party for the show must have automatically meant to them that he was dead. Things got so complicated that he took out a full-page ad in Variety with a photo of himself holding a copy of the day’s paper, while sitting in the coffin, just to prove he was alive. The poor guy even said “My wife keeps getting condolence cards from people who believe I died.” “Many are producers. I’m sure there are many who may have thought about me for a role but said, ‘No, he’s dead.’ ”

9. Jeff Goldblum (2009)

Jeff Goldblum

A shady website claimed that the Jurassic Park star had fallen to his death in New Zealand. Goldblum’s publicist quickly debunked the rumor, and he made light of it on “The Colbert Report.” As you might expect, his mother was really shaken by the whole event.

10. Justin Bieber (2013)

Justin Bieber
This time the hoaxers went for a simple way out: car accident. They said the pop sensation had been killed in his Ferrari going 125 mph. Beliebers were in shock, there was a lot of crying and tweeting involved only for things to calm down suddenly when it was revealed it was all a big, cheap hoax.

11. Sylvester Stallone (2018)

Sylvester Stallone
A fake news article stated that the action star had passed away. All this while he was enjoying his beauty sleep. So imagine his surprise when he woke up to an army of mourners worldwide. A quick post on his social media account to say he was “still punching” brought the hoax to an end.

12. Oprah Winfrey (2013)

Oprah Winfrey
This time things were a bit more grim. A hoax claimed that the media mogul had committed suicide. It went like this: “Breaking News: American media proprietor Oprah Winfrey was found dead on her residence right after committing suicide on her living room.” Not only that, but when you accessed the article you were greeted by a popup asking for access to your data. Yeah, this one was quite obvious.

13. Adele (2016)

And again, another car crash. Adele’s spokesperson denied the claims, confirming that the pop singer was alive and well.

14. Keanu Reeves (2012)

Keanu Reeves
A tweet announcing Keanu Reeves’ death went viral. This was around the same time tributes for Whitney Houston were pouring, both online and offline. So, showbiz and music lovers were already in morning when this news hit. Keanu, the good guy everyone loves, was not anymore. Thankfully, it was false, and Reeves is still very much alive, continuing his career and being an internet darling.

15. Eminem (2020)


This started after one Twitter user tweeted: “I have killed Eminem”. He had his account suspended and people sighed in relief that the guy was safe and well.

Recommended reading next: From Ukulele To Typewriters: 23 Weird Celebrity Hidden Talents

This is why you should fact check everything you read, even more so if you decide to pass the news on. Celebrity death hoaxes are a sick trend with no end in sight, unfortunately.

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