Whether you're a die-hard movie fan or just the occasional viewer, we can all feel personally affected when a beloved actor dies. After all, those actors made us laugh and cry, despair and fall in love through their movies or TV shows, becoming someone we could relate to. For some fans it may be even harder, but it's a natural process that we eventually get over. If the celebrity is actually dead, I mean.
No, I'm not talking about rumors of Elvis and Michael Jackson fleeing the spotlight to work at fast-food restaurants. This article is about those death rumors that arise out of nowhere, and turn out to be total hoaxes- a phenomenon which is getting ever more frequent these days. While celebrities mostly take news of their own deaths in their stride, there's decidedly morbid about creating a death hoax.
These are just a few of the many public figures who have been declared dead on the internet- and found themselves in the unique situation of having to prove they're actually alive!
Sir Paul McCartney is the victim of perhaps the most famous - and enduring - death hoax of all time. In 1966, when the world was in the throes of Beatlemania, rumors emerged that the 'real' Paul McCartney had died, and was replaced with a look-alike. Fans speculated and developed elaborate theories about some of The Beatles album covers - Sgt. Peppers' Lonely Heart Club Band and Abbey Road, for instance - describing how the cover art revealed the secret death of Paul.
In 2012, a tweet once more falsely claimed that the rock singer had passed away for good, setting #rippaulmccartney as a trend pretty fast.
The Rush Hour and Karate Kid actor had a rough year in 2011, when he was a victim of the death hoax not only once, but twice. In May and August of that year, separate rumors broke about Chan's demise and both were dismissed by his reps.
Then again in 2013, Jackie Chan took to Facebook to once more debunk some rumors about him - and about his dogs.
This one didn't last very long, as Tom Cruise was on the phone with MTV on the day the hoax started to spread. Allegedly, Cruise had died in the same way as many a celebrity before (and after) him: falling to his death from a cliff while shooting a movie in New Zealand. A false news site (Global Associated News) is the prime source for this death hoax- and it seems they've run out of ways for people to die, so they keep repeating the same news. Natalie Portman, Eddie Murphy and Jeff Goldblum have all ostensibly fallen off the same cliff in new New Zealand, to their respective deaths - really, it's a wonder people still film there!
It is Cruise's response to MTV about whether he is actually alive that makes this one a memorable one:
"No, I'm not. I'm an hologram."
Jon Bon Jovi
Back in 2011, news of Jon Bon Jovi having suffered a cardiac arrest after being in a coma spread quickly - but these reports were soon proven false by Bon Jovi himself. The singer posted a picture of himself the same day on his official Facebook page, holding a sign which read: "Heaven looks a lot like New Jersey".
The weird thing here is that the perpetrator of the hoax - a musician from Jersey just like Jon Bon Jovi - did it because he was upset that Jon was branching out in restaurants and medicine commercials, instead of focusing on his music. Way to be a fan, buddy!
This week, it was Angelina Jolie's turn to have her death falsely reported. Similarly to the recent - and also fake - reports about Will Smith's son, Jaden Smith, Angelina supposedly committed suicide. The hoax spread mainly around Facebook with an attached video which claimed to be her suicide note, left for Brad Pitt. When the users clicked on the false link for the video, they unknowingly gave their permission for the phony app to access their Facebook information - and send the link to many of their friends as well. There is a lesson here to be learned about our surfing habits — and a cautionary tale about being morbidly nosy about the lives of others.
Being a celebrity or public figure does not make a person be less human or have less feelings than anyone else, and joking about people's deaths is clearly not a sane idea of fun. A simple Google search will come up with dozens of pages of celebrities death hoaxes (there's even a death hoax creator site!), which tells us something very nasty about our internet surfing habits.
More on Celebs:
Celebrity Is Not Consent
2016's Most Heartbreaking Celebrity Deaths
Are Fans Pushing Celebrities Away From Them?
Where do you stand on this surge of death hoaxes? Are they crossing a line or just plain entertainment?
Images: Jimmy Baikovicius