Celebrity Death Hoaxes That Fooled Readers

We sorted fact from fiction so you wouldn't have to.

Published Jan. 22, 2024

 (Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Image Via Jim Spellman/WireImage

In the age of information overload, the internet has become a breeding ground for sensationalism and misinformation. One recurring phenomenon that has captured public attention is the proliferation of celebrity death hoaxes. These online rumors, often sparked by a simple tweet or a misleading headline, spread like wildfire, leaving fans and followers in a state of confusion and concern.

We decided to separate fact from fiction and list the fake celebrity death hoaxes that have rocked the web. They were a huge shock at the time, but thankfully, they were totally false.

Sylvester Stallone

In 2022, a YouTube video convinced people that Sylvester Stallone had passed away, but it was nothing more than a hoax. This wasn't the first hoax he'd been a part of — there was another in 2014 and yet another in 2016.

Each hoax spread quickly, with one misleading video getting nearly 200,000 views! Stallone was alive and well as of January 2024.

Clint Eastwood

Another hoax in 2022 targeted the actor and director Clint Eastwood. This time, the rumor stemmed from Facebook, which claimed he'd passed away. When users clicked the Facebook link, they were led to a spam site with dangerous pop-up alerts to download a program that was discontinued in 2020.  

This hoax also appeared on YouTube, but Eastwood was alive and well as of January 2024.

Dwayne Johnson

In April 2014, a Facebook post (falsely) claimed that "The Rock" had died when filming "Fast & Furious 7," which had recently begun production. 

Dwayne Johnson was unharmed and alive, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The hoax popped up again in 2017 and again in 2019 and could continue to pop up.

Johnson was alive as of January 2024. 

Eddie Murphy

In 2017, shortly after the death of Eddie Murphy's brother, Charlie Murphy, a (false) article circulated that Eddie Murphy had passed away in a Los Angeles car accident. 

It's believed that the rumor was started due to some conflation between the Murphy brothers, which exacerbated the confusion. Whatever the reason, Eddie Murphy did not die, and he was alive as of January 2024.

Julia Roberts

In 2022, numerous Facebook posts claimed that Julia Roberts had passed away. It all stemmed from a post that showed the caption, "Stop breathing, we have extremely sad news about actress Julia Roberts, she has been confirmed as..".

Not only was the actress alive, but she hadn't been hospitalized, sick, or injured at that time. The hoax had the goal of installing malware onto users' devices after clicking the fake news story. 

Roberts was alive and well as of January 2024. 

Kid Rock

Some of the easiest-to-believe hoaxes come from Facebook posts that resemble genuine news items, but they're just that — hoaxes. In 2017, a story circulated that Kid Rock had been found dead over the July Fourth weekend. 

Later, it was revealed that the story was a "prank" by a fake news website. Kid Rock was alive and well as of January 2024. 

Demi Lovato

In July 2018, Demi Lovato made headlines after being hospitalized for an overdose. Even though she was reported as doing well and recovering, a website claimed that she had actually passed away during this event.

To add fuel to the fire, the website imitated The New York Times, calling itself the "New York Timely Reports." Lovato was alive as of January 2024. 

Henry Winkler

In January 2019, a (false) article was published saying that Henry Winkler had passed away at the age of 77. The report wasn't true and came from a website known for publishing misinformation and satire. 

Days after the hoax, Winkler was reported to have visited his old elementary school and appeared on the "Today Show" and the "Tonight Show." Obviously, Winkler was alive and well (and remained so as of January 2024).

Simon Cowell

In November 2022, YouTube and Facebook posts claiming that Simon Cowell had passed away were shared. The posts showed an open casket with Cowell's portrait next to it. The posts were false

The image was an altered one that was actually showing former U.S. President Bill Clinton paying respects at Hank Aaron's funeral. Some of the websites involved were trying to get users to install malware on their devices. 

Cowell was alive and well as of January 2024. 

Bruce Willis

In November 2022, a Facebook post claimed that Bruce Willis had passed away, but we couldn't find a credible source that mentioned his death, meaning this was a hoax.

What didn't help is that earlier in the year, Willis announced he'd been diagnosed with aphasia, a form of dementia. The hoax was another that was created to install malware on a user's device. 

Willis was alive as of January 2024.

Bill O'Reilly

A false claim popped up in May 2017, reporting that tv talk show host Bill O'Reilly had taken his own life in his Long Island home. It came from a fake news website, but there wasn't an ounce of truth in the story.

The (fake) story came from a website called Daily USA Update and was later picked up by other satire websites that consistently spread misinformation. 

O'Reilly was alive as of January 2024.

Denzel Washington

In January 2016, a "Houston News" website published a (false) article that claimed Denzel Washington had been shot and killed in New York at 2 a.m. There was absolutely no truth in this report. 

The website was designed to fool readers by imitating the legitimate news website The Houston Chronicle. 

Washington was alive and well as of January 2024.

Michael Jordan

In February 2015, Cronica MX published a (false) article saying that basketball star Michael Jordan had passed away from a heart attack at the age of 52. The website made a video on YouTube, which was very quickly removed by YouTube for spreading misinformation. 

Jordan was alive and well as of January 2024.

Anthony Hopkins

This fake report was sloppily done. It was published on Georgian Street and stated: "Anthony died at her home in Los Angeles of congestive heart failure, according to her spokeswoman..."

The story was then picked up by other hoax sites and spread. It was all false, thankfully, and Anthony Hopkins was alive and well as of January 2024.

Willie Nelson

The legendary country news singer Willie Nelson has been the target of numerous celebrity death hoaxes, with the most notable being in 2015. 

The (fake) report came from a website, "MSMBC," which fooled people into thinking it was the legitimate news source MSNBC. It fooled many readers, but rest assured that Nelson was alive as of January 2024.