15 Celebs Everyone Thought Was Dead, Until They Weren’t

There may be no better way to make the topic of a specific celebrity go viral than to claim that they're dead.

Because they're famous and because writing about them leads to eyeballs, celebrities are often the target of many Internet rumors. There may be no better way to make the topic of a specific celebrity go viral than to claim that they're dead. It's twisted and untrue, but it's fascinating, nonetheless.

Readers will latch onto a post about the death of a celebrity and share it, often before they actually research to discover whether or not the rumor is true. By then, it's too late. To the world, that celeb is dead even though they're still very much alive and kicking. Once it goes viral, there's a pattern that emerges.

Someone claims the celebrity has died. Millions of people share the news (trying to be the first one in their close-knit circle to know), the actual celebrity (or their agent) has to come out and denies the death, and then millions of people call the other millions of people idiots for ever believing the rumors in the first place.

Among the most famous celebrity death hoaxes, favorites include Bill Cosby, Margaret Thatcher, Barack Obama, Sean Connery, Eddie Murphy, and Morgan Freeman, among many others. We've put together a list of the 15 wackiest death hoaxes that went viral. In some cases, the celebrities responded in disgust. In other cases, the celebs had some fun with the rumors and used the opportunity to call out their hoaxers.

These fake celebrity deaths caught so much attention, people actually believed they were dead.

15 Lil Wayne


Remember how your parents or friends taught you how to watch out for obvious scams? You know, videos that might leave viruses on your computer? Well, not everyone took the warnings to heart. In 2013, a bunch of fans, too curious for their own good, shared a Facebook video requiring that they share it to view it. That should have been the first sign that something was off. Then, when they watched the video and it reported that Lil Wayne had died, they should have reached out to their friends and told them not to open it. They didn't.

The video spread like wildfire until someone removed it. Lil Wayne was still very much alive. For some reason, he's been the target of a number of death hoaxes. Is this people's way of saying they are not fans? Surely, there has to be a better way to show your criticism of the rapper.

14 Britney Spears

Photo Via:

Britney Spears has been killed off not once, but twice, since 2001. The first time, a radio station in Dallas (KEGL 97.1) reported that Spears had died in a car crash with a pretzel van while driving with Justin Timberlake. Because of the sheer interest in whether or not this was true, a fake BBC webpage offered more details cashing in on the publicity. The radio station finally apologized stating the two DJ's responsible were fired. Spears' publicist actually had to issue a statement saying "There is no truth to the rumor circulating around the world that Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were involved in a car accident on Tuesday."

In 2016, she was the subject of a second death hoax after Sony Music tweeted the singer had died on Dec. 26. In that instance, Sony reported they were a victim of a hack.

13 Hugh Hefner


It will be a sad day for men everywhere when Hugh Hefner does, in fact, kick the bucket. Fortunately, for fans of Playboy, that time isn't yet. The 89-year-old Playboy founder is still alive and kicking and the envy of men everywhere. But, when his time does come, it won't be a surprise as The Hef has lived quite the promiscuous and free-wheeling lifestyle. The fact that he's still alive with his history is actually kind of amazing.

A bogus website called "" tricked hundreds of thousands of people when they falsely reported that the Playboy mogul had died earlier last year. The death hoax collected viewers quickly and almost one million likes on a Facebook page made it mainstream news. The page was called "R.I.P Hugh Hefner."

12 Miley Cyrus

via Pinterest

Like others on this list, Miley Cyrus has been the victim of an online death hoax at least twice. The first incident was in 2008, and it was reported that she had died in a car accident. She didn't publicly address it, but when she showed up at her concert in New York to perform, she didn't have to say much.

The second time around (July 2014), the hoax started as a Facebook scam designed to lure people to click through and take an online survey. It included a mysterious photo of Miley "overdosing" and the headline read, "{SHOCKING} Miley Cyrus Found Dead In Her Los Angeles Home!" She responded to that one by posting a topless photo of herself on Instagram to prove the story was false. Now, that's one way to shut people up.

11 Sylvester Stallone

via Mirror

Sylvester Stallone found himself as a victim of a sick death hoax that the responsible party actually tried to make it look like the report came from CNN. They added details that included him overdosing on prescription pills.

Stallone squashed the rumors pretty quickly with a goofy photo he posted on his social media accounts. Maybe he didn't know that he'd been targeted for the hoax but the timing was just too perfect. The Rocky star shared a snap holding up his fists with Sergey "Krusher" Kovzalev. He had a cheeky smile and was in a boxing pose, proving that he's as fit as ever.

The website that tried to pull the fast one on people was the same site responsible for previous death hoaxes involving Vin Diesel, Nicolas Cage, Jaden Smith, Jim Carrey, Angelina Jolie, and John Cena.

10 Cesar Millan


In December of 2014, the dog whisperer died...or so it was reported. Those responsible claimed that Cesar Millan had died of a heart attack and went so far as to say that his wife held a press conference confirming the news. They even made up fake quotes saying, "I hope you can understand my loss, and I would appreciate if you can give us our space for mourning."

Millan quickly jumped on Twitter and called out the hoax. He had his pup, Junior, make a post on Facebook saying, "Reports of my Pack Leader's untimely demise are greatly exaggerated. I can happily report he is safe, happy, and healthy. I can also tell you he kept me up all night snoring, my breakfast was a little late but I did get a great morning walk. As Cesar keeps telling me: Exercise. Discipline. Affection. – the key to a long, balanced, and healthy life!"

9 Paul McCartney


Paul McCartney was the subject of a death hoax before these hoaxes were the "cool" thing to do. A rumor back in 1966 suggested that McCartney had died and had been replaced by a lookalike. Clearly, McCartney was still alive and well, but that hasn't stopped the conspiracy theories about people looking to suggest that McCartney isn't McCartney. These are probably the same people who believe Elvis, Tupac, or Michael Jackson are still with us.

The noise got so loud, McCartney recorded a 1993 album entitled "Paul is Live" and made multiple references to the conspiracy theory.

Paul McCartney was also the victim of a second celebrity death hoax in 2012 when a fake tweet caused "RIP Paul McCartney" to become the top trending topic on Twitter. So, is the second hoax about the fake Paul McCartney or the original? I'm confused.

8 Terry Gilliam

via Den of Geek

Sometimes, a celebrity death hoax makes for good publicity that a celebrity might not have otherwise gotten. This is especially true if a reputable source like Variety gets duped and posts a story about their death. That's what happened to 74-year-old filmmaker Terry Gilliam.

Variety quickly pulled the story when they realized that it wasn't true. But by then, Gilliam had a little fun with it and told his fans not to believe the retraction and that he was, in fact, dead and that he apologized to people who bought tickets to his upcoming talks. What else might you expect from someone involved in Monty Python, 12 Monkeys, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?

7 Robert Redford

via Collider

Hollywood mourned the loss of actor Robert Redford until they realized that the entire story of him falling off a golf buggy in Santa Monica was complete hogwash, and the tweet that started it all was blasted by Redford's publicist as fake and disgusting.

By then, it was too late. Tributes for the 79-year-old flooded Twitter. The hoax was started by fake news feed, known for falsely killing off many celebrities before they fooled the world with the Redford nonsense. Not all of their past rumors caught fire, but this one sure did.

Redford's publicist, Cindi Berger, had to make a public announcement that this was all a sick hoax. She announced that she had just spoken to him and that there is no truth to this whatsoever. Kind of sad that she actually had to call him to see if he was still alive.

6 Zach Braff


In what has to be one of the funniest ways to out someone who tries to start a celebrity death hoax, Zach Braff (of Scrubs fame) takes the award for best celebrity to call out an idiot for trying to convince people Braff was dead.

In 2007, a fan named Chris Laganella copied a CCN webpage and made up a story about Braff dying in his 32,000-square-foot home in Beverly Hills. In 2009, the story took on a life of its own and circulated on Twitter, got back to Braff, and had his mom and costars worried. To prove that he was not dead, Braff made a video awarding Laganella his 'Douche of the Day Award'. Laganella later apologized, suggesting that he didn't plan for things to get so out of control.

5 Oprah Winfrey

via The Source

Apparently, Oprah upset the wrong pedophile. She once went on her show and publicly defended a Senate bill that opposed child pedophiles and rapists. She named the group 4Chan as an example of a dangerous group. She got their name because they had earlier left a comment on her website suggesting their stance pro the raping of children. It was disgusting, and Oprah was right for calling the group dangerous and organized.

As revenge, the 4Chan posted fake news stories all over the Internet that Oprah had died in her Chicago home. 4chan later admitted to having made up the hoax and having Photoshopped numerous screenshots of news stories to encourage the spread of the false news. It was all about getting back at her for calling them terrible, which they proved themselves to be.

4 Adam Sandler


Sometimes, the folks trying to hoax everyone are just downright lazy. When the same story comes out about two different celebrities, you'd think the public would take pause. When the same story about one celebrity comes out again not even a year later, you become amazed that people still get fooled. That's what happened with Adam Sandler.

It was reported once that Sandler had died in Switzerland snowboarding. He'd lost control and hit a tree at an alarming rate of speed. The same story was reported about Jim Carrey only three months later. After both were proven false, the hoaxers repeated the Sandler story a month after that and fooled everyone again. Sandler finally publicly joked about it all during an interview with Jay Leno.

3 Macaulay Culkin

via youtube/instagram

Oftentimes, it's not so much that people actually believe that a celebrity has died, it's that the onslaught of social media attention that gets paid to the announcement almost makes you second-guess yourself. That's what happened when Macaulay Culkin died... sort of.

Things got so bad after hundreds of thousands of likes on a Facebook page that was in tribute to the former child star of Home Alone, that Culkin actually had to take to Twitter to dispel rumors that he had died in 2014. He had to let people know the mock tribute page named “RIP Macaulay Culkin” wasn't real and was created by someone on Facebook with a little too much time on his hands.

It kind of sounds like something devious Kevin would have pulled in the movies on his two wannabe robbers.

2 Betty White

Via: Parade

In most cases, the hoaxes we see of celebrity deaths are one party trying to pull a fast one on a few million viewers. They either want quick views on their websites or simply want to see how much havoc they can wreak. In some rare instances, the death goes viral completely by accident. That's what happened with Betty White.

Fans of the comedienne inadvertently made her the subject of a death hoax in 2014, when they misread the title of a satirical news article posted on Empire News titled "Actress Betty White, 92, Dyes Peacefully In Her Los Angeles Home." They didn't read closely enough to notice that the article was actually a tongue-in-cheek fake interview with White about the color of her hair. Things got a bit carried away, and White's agent had to confirm to the Los Angeles Times that the star was alive and well.

1 Jeff Goldblum


Goldblum's death hoax was odd for a number of reasons. First, it was the same story that had been reported about Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and a bunch of other actors. Clearly, the team that started the rumors are not very creative. Second, it was a day after Michael Jackson had died. I guess they figured it might go under the radar? Finally, The Australia Today Show believed the story and mourned him on their show, calling him a "good bloke."

Goldblum had some fun with it by appearing on The Colbert Report several days later to deliver his own obituary. Goldblum labeled himself as a man with "Brando's muscularity" and quoted "verbatim" that s*x with him was "like being caught in a flesh storm with a 90% chance of satisfaction."

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15 Celebs Everyone Thought Was Dead, Until They Weren’t