Nothing gets us more wrapped up in the life of a celebrity than when that celebrity dies. We often find ourselves enamored with celebrities just for the fact that they’re famous, but for some reason, their stock seems to rise even higher in our eyes as soon as they die. It could be for the fact that the celebrities in question suddenly become even more valuable than they were before because of the fact that they’re no longer with us. Or perhaps a celebrity just becomes infinitely more interesting once we recognize that his or her body of work is completed, and we can analyze that work in retrospect to understand the artist or performer better. In any case, some of us tend to analyze (or over-analyze, depending on the individual) the mysteries (or lack thereof) that come out of a celebrity’s death. This leads to several conspiracy theories and myths regarding what caused the death of that celebrity.
We all love a good rumor, especially those rumors that concern celebrities. Such rumors are the reason why so many gossip columns and juicy rumor mill magazines continue to thrive to this day. Rumors tend to pile up on celebrities once they die, but a celebrity death usually brings life to rumors less based on any vaguely possible or hypothetical scenarios and more based on sensationalized and over-the-top wolves’ tales. Sensationalism breeds bad journalism, and conspiracy theories are perhaps the worst form of bad journalism. Conspiracy theories have given us ludicrous celebrity death myths that are not supported by facts and sound more like crazy stories that could sell hot tabloids. Such conspiracy theories can be debunked by bringing in actual facts or just employing rational thinking and common sense. Here are a few examples of celebrity death myths that are far too easy to debunk.
15. JFK and the Magic Bullet
One of the most infamous celebrity death myths is that of the magic bullet that killed President John F. Kennedy. The supposed anomaly goes that Kennedy and Governor John Connally, who sat in front of JFK, could have only both been shot with the same bullet if the bullet had curved sharply in mid-air. The oddity has been heavily debated for years, but there’s a simple way to make sense of it. Simply put, when people visualize the two sitting in the Lincoln Continental, they’re envisioned as sitting at the same height. Connally actually sat in a seat set off from and lower than Kennedy’s position, allowing for Lee Harvey Oswald’s fatal bullet to pierce right through both men.
14. Katy Perry Is JonBenet Ramsey
On a somber Christmas Day in 1996, six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was murdered in her family’s home. The identity of her killer(s) may never be revealed, but some people speculate that her death remains a mystery because she never died to begin with. Instead, she is walking among us right now under the guise of Katy Perry. This rumor started solely because the two share similar facial features, but conspiracy theorists sought to take this one a step further by suggesting that Ramsey’s parents sacrificed the girl to some unholy cult that would groom her into the Grammy-nominated pop star we know today. However, these two individuals were born six years apart, making this senseless theory even more nonsensical.
13. Avril Lavigne Has Been Dead For Years
A popular theory in South America is that Canadian rocker Avril Lavigne supposedly committed suicide in 2002 and was replaced by an uncanny lookalike whose facial blemishes don’t match the real Lavigne’s face. This theory gained major traction in North America a couple years ago when Buzzfeed contributor, Ryan Broderick, shared it on Twitter for a quick laugh. What believers in the theory neglected to realize in time was the fact that the Brazilian blog posts were actually part of a string of parody conspiracy pages. Among other spoof pages chronicling conspiracies regarding the likes of Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato, the Avril Lavigne page was made to prove how even the most ridiculous of conspiracy claims can be thought of as true. Apparently, the parody page was so convincing that it birthed a life of its own.
12. Miley Cyrus Died in 2010, Replaced by a Bad Role Model
Miley Cyrus is one of those major celebrities who seem to be at the center of a huge death hoax every year. One of the bigger ones suggests that shortly after Hannah Montana left the airwaves in 2010, Cyrus was murdered by some Disney execs for refusing to take part in one of their secret sex parties. Then, to destroy her post-Disney name brand, Cyrus was replaced by a rambunctious doppelganger with the mission to twerk her way into blaspheming Cyrus’s name. Allegedly, the real Cyrus body was found in the desert and was reported on by one news station before Disney pulled the plug on the story to cover their tracks. A few things go against this theory. For starters, let’s look at the idea that this was covered by one news station. Just one? No one else picked this up? Second, let’s say there are some discrepancies in how Cyrus looks now versus how she looked prior to 2010. Can’t we just attribute that to Cyrus herself getting plastic surgery done? Or, at the very least, aging? Also, let’s all remember that Cyrus’s first major “bad girl” antic was when she twerked against Robin Thicke on the MTV stage in 2013. If this replacement’s whole role was to destroy the Disney star’s image and career, why would it take three years for her to start her mission? Just another ridiculous, sensationalized story with no logical evidence.
11. Stephen King Killed John Lennon
Stephen King has authored a number of elaborately constructed stories over the past few decades, but not even the master of suspense himself could have thought up this crazy theory. Starting in 2009, a man named Steve Lightfoot once suggested that the assassin securing an autograph in Lennon‘s last photo before getting shot is not Mark David Chapman, but horror writer Stephen King. Chapman is merely a patsy, and King was hired by none other than President Richard Nixon, who is quoted as saying in his book, The Real War, that rock stars “must be removed from the stage of public debate… by whatever means.” This would probably make for an interesting (but still implausible) theory if John Lennon’s murder weren’t witnessed by a dozen other people and Chapman hadn’t confessed that he himself had killed Lennon, instantly invalidating the theory. The only thing Stephen King and John Lennon’s killer share is a mild resemblance.
10. Frozen Walt Disney
The idea that Walt Disney is cryogenically frozen somewhere like he was Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back is one of the more popular celebrity death myths out there. It has become a popular theory in recent decades thanks to television shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, and 30 Rock parodying the idea to no end, although, to be fair, the thought that Disney could have used his riches to have himself frozen isn’t a completely implausible one. A month after Disney’s death, James Bedford became the first man in history to actually be cryogenically frozen. Thus, as the theory goes, because Disney certainly had the money to do so, upon learning he had lung cancer, he probably arranged for the procedure to be undertaken. However, when Disney died from lung cancer, his ashes were spread at Forest Lawn, Glendale. Fans of this theory use the fact that Disney didn’t have a funeral to support the speculation, but Disney didn’t have one because he chose not to, preferring a cremation instead.
9. Robin Williams and the Sad Clown Myth
The Sad Clown Myth refers to the idea that comedians are so funny because they’re hurting on the inside, depressed. This myth has been closely associated with Robin Williams as a key reason for his suicide. In actuality, depression was just one of the illnesses that Williams hid from the world, and it wasn’t even the main one that did him in near the end of his life. As his wife, Susan, put it, “Depression was one of, let’s call it, 50 symptoms, and it was a small one.” Williams’s biggest pitfall was that he suffered from Lewy body dementia, which combines the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, and schizophrenia into one mind-shattering combo. Yes, depression was a factor, but again, a small one. To simplify Williams’s ailments through the Sad Clown Myth belittles and oversimplifies the severity of not only his true ailments, but also depression itself.
8. Andy Kaufman Faked His Death
As strange as it may sound, this is actually the most plausible theory on the list. In his heyday, Andy Kaufman was the original troll of the comedy world. This is the same guy who orchestrated an entire feud with pro wrestler Jerry Lawler, convincing the public that their beef was real. He was so infamous with his elaborate pranks that even his family doubted that he really succumbed to lung cancer upon his diagnosis. As much as it’s believable to think that Kaufman would go through the trouble of faking his death as a means for one big practical joke, there’s no punchline to this one. Even for Kaufman’s most elaborate jokes, he would always provide a payoff of some sort before it was over. With the Lawler thing, the payoff was a wrestling match between the two, and afterward, it was revealed their feud was fake. Kaufman was pronounced dead almost 35 years ago. There’s no reason for him to keep up with the joke for so long, especially when most of his friends and family are now dead themselves. To go through over three decades committing to a joke that does nothing but bring grief to his fans and loved ones is just pointless and cruel, not to mention that Kaufman was the type of comedian who thrived on hitting audiences with the final punchline for one last shocking laugh. He wouldn’t hold in that punchline for three decades.
7. The CIA Killed Bob Marley
In addition to making melodic reggae music, Bob Marley was an extremely vocal advocate for peace and an activist against government. People think that his anti-big-brother mentality was enough of a concern to make him an enemy of the CIA. Conspirators believe that the CIA were so angry about Marley’s slander against them that they went as far as to kill him. To do this, the CIA allegedly killed the Jamaican native by tampering with his shoes. Marley allegedly received some anonymous gift of boots and when Marley put the shoes on, a hidden copper wire pricked Marley in his foot, poisoning him in the process. To support this claim, it is noted that Carl Colby — the son of the executive director of the CIA at the time — was seen backstage when Marley received his special boots. It was also reported that Marley received these boots in 1976, and in 1977, he was diagnosed with melanoma. As sensationalist as this CIA story sounds, the truth is far less appealing. Marley was simply afflicted by melanoma — which is often caused by overexposure to the sun — that spread to his brain.
6. Tupac Faked His Death
Every major hip-hop head in the world is familiar with conspiracy theories regarding the death of Tupac Shakur, and most hip-hop heads either believe them or desperately want them to be true. It certainly would explain why his music continues to be released over 20 years after his death. Though the idea that he could be alive and producing music gets debunked when it’s understood that Pac produced hundreds of tracks prior to his death, as did many other artists (Prince, Michael Jackson, etc.). That’s why there have been 6 posthumous Tupac albums released since his death. The wild theory also gets debunked when we see photographic evidence of Tupac’s dead body on the autopsy table, which was released years ago in Cathy Scott’s The Killing of Tupac Shakur book. That should be enough to get people to stop pointing out random bald black fellas in the street and saying, “Look! Tupac’s alive!”
5. Paul McCartney Is Dead, Long Live Paul McCarthy
One of the strangest stories that conspiracy theorists come up with that will never make sense is the idea that a musician would be trying to reveal the truth about a murder via their music. Think about it. If you killed someone or got rid of a dead body and got away with it scot-free, why on earth would you drop hints for the public (and the police) to find out about it? Despite the lack of logic there, conspirators have attributed this asinine mindset to a number of musicians, including The Beatles. If wild stories are to be believed, Beatles alum Paul McCartney died in a car crash back in 1996 only for his bandmates to bury his body and replace him with a guy named Billy Shears, who gets name-dropped in the song “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Other hints come from the song “Strawberry Fields Forever” where Lennon is supposedly heard mumbling, “I buried Paul,” when really, he said, “cranberry sauce.” The Abbey Road album cover is supposedly full of subliminal messages as well, including a barefoot McCartney representing a corpse and a denim dressed George Harrison representing a grave digger. Rest assured, the real Paul McCartney is still alive and well at age 74.
4. Lady Gaga Killed Lou Reed
This bizarre story feels so contrived that it deserves a movie script all for itself. Apparently, Lady Gaga — an avid Velvet Underground fan — wanted to bring aboard Lou Reed on her Artpop project so that she could pay homage to a band she loved. Not a fan of her music, he was supposedly quick to distance himself from the project. This infuriated Gaga, especially when Reed gushed to the public about Kanye West‘s then latest Yeezus album. Angry and jealous, Gaga and her team of music execs broke into Reed’s hospital room while he was fresh from his liver transplant surgery and injected his IV with poison. A few months later, he died of liver disease. We’re not the biggest experts on poison, but shouldn’t it take quicker than 5 months for the poison to kick in? Plus, what kind of ninja execs could Gaga get a hold of to break into a hospital without being seen? Lady Gaga had nothing to do with Lou Reed’s death, and he died simply due to his liver disease finally catching up to him.
3. Jim Morrison Faked His Death
Some people out there believe that the lead singer of The Doors not only faked his death, but is also out there right now living life as we speak. The basis for this theory regarding Jim Morrison feeds off the fact that there was no autopsy performed on The Doors frontman’s body. While this is true, it’s important to note that Morrison’s body was found in a bathtub at an apartment in France, and in 1971, French law did not require autopsies to be performed on the deceased. Furthermore, three close friends testify that they found Morrison’s body and arranged for him to be buried in a sealed coffin. Also, former journalist Sam Bernett confirmed that Morrison was dead because he had seen the body himself. Though there was no official autopsy, Morrison’s death was deemed to be caused by heart failure brought on by an overdose of heroin.
2. Chris Benoit Conspiracy Theories
There are a good handful of theories out there concerning what happened on the night of the Benoit family tragedy. As with just about all of the myths on this list, each succeeding theory sounds more preposterous than the last, the most popular being that the case was not the murder-suicide it appeared to be. Thanks to an accusation started by ex-KKK leader turned Pentecostal Christian, Johnny Lee Clary, some people believe that wrestler and alleged Satanist Kevin Sullivan murdered Chris Benoit and his family as revenge for Benoit stealing his wife, Nancy, from Sullivan. This accusation is supposedly supported by a said excerpt from an interview in a WWE Magazine where Chavo Guerrero admits to Benoit calling him shortly before the murders and hearing an intruder over the phone. So much is wrong with these accusations. Before we start taking the crazy word of an ex-Klansman turned professional conspiracy theorist, just know that he has since taken down his column from the website in which he originally posted his accusations, suggesting his own doubt. Yes, Nancy Sullivan did cheat on her ex-husband with Chris Benoit back in the mid-90s, but normally, when someone wants revenge, they do it at the beginning of the affair, not over 10 years after the fact. Also, Chavo’s supposed comments are completely fabricated. He never made such a claim, and he certainly never said it in a WWE Magazine.
1. Kurt Cobain Murder Conspiracy
A common theory believed by some Nirvana fans is that Kurt Cobain didn’t kill himself but was actually killed by his wife, Courtney Love. This is supposedly supported by how his suicide note looks forged, with the end of his handwriting looking significantly different from how the note began, not to mention that according to some theorists, since three times the lethal dosage of heroin was found in his system, there is doubt that he would have had the ability to shoot himself in the head when he did. The truth, however, is that frequent heroin users often grow too tolerant to feel the effects of heroin after some time. Since Cobain was a known heroin addict, not even three doses of heroin could have left him too inebriated to pull the trigger. As for the note, the sloppy handwriting near the end could reflect the heroin starting to kick in as he suddenly struggled to write coherently.