23/02/2018 12:02 GMT | Updated 23/02/2018 12:02 GMT

HOAX: 5 Dead Celebrities Who Weren't

There are enough fake stories doing the rounds to make celebrities sick to death...

The year 2018 is only two months old, and already the celebrity death hoax is back. The digital environment is awash with fake news stories, and the perennial celebrity-death fake reports are enough to make celebrities sick to death of them.

And they all spread for the same reason: Twitter and other social media users retweeting or sharing any story by anyone who claims celeb-insider knowledge, without checking it out first.

Witness these five famous folk, all declared DOA on social media a little prematurely...

1. Sylvester Stallone

Eddie Keogh / Reuters

The reaper's first famous victim of 2018, so some of us thought, was Rocky himself; everyone's favourite tough-guy-turned-amusing-grampa Sylvester Stallone – claimed by prostate cancer, the rumour insisted.

After a series of posts reported his death, the action star responded with a laconic post of his own: "Please ignore this stupidity... Alive and well and happy and healthy... Still punching"

Please ignore this stupidity... Alive and well and happy and healthy... Still punching!

A post shared by Sly Stallone (@officialslystallone) on

His younger brother, Frank, was more forthright: "I'm very protective of my older brother and I don't find any humour in this fake post today on my brother's demise. It upset my 96-year-old mother, so I'm doubly upset. I just can't understand what makes these sick-minded people tick?"

2. Rowan Atkinson

Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

In one of the sickest Facebook fake posts in 2016, a story alleged that beloved Mr Bean creator Rowan Atkinson had taken his own life – and then offered readers a link to click and "watch his suicide".

The ghouls who did click the link were redirected to their Facebook friends list – so it was perhaps part of a phishing scam. Whatever it was, it was fake news at its most callous.

3. Jackie Chan

Martial arts action star Jackie Chan had been the subject of many death hoaxes – he was once called by his manager in the U.S., who asked him if he was okay, because everyone thought he was dead.

Chan then used Facebook to declare he was still alive – adding inimitably, "My dog is healthy, just like me!"

Jackie Chan

4. Morgan Freeman

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

A death hoax that was so convincing that it was allegedly retweeted by CNN Breaking News in 2010 claimed that "Actor Morgan Freeman has passed away in his Burbank home."

After it was found that Freeman was alive, CNN denied any responsibility for the error and said it had not tweeted anything related to Freeman's death. By then, the supposed tweet had disappeared. Hmm...

5. Paul McCartney

Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney has been a subject of death hoaxes and conspiracy theories for more than 50 years – he's the king of celebrity death hoaxes. The first was in 1966, when it was alleged that McCartney had died and an impostor had taken his place – a massive theory has been woven around this, including the idea that the cover of the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album is a coded pictorial reference to "Paul's death".

Getty Images

His second reported death was in 2012 – this time on Twitter, naturally. Needless to say, Sir Paul is still alive and making music, while trying to make the world vegan.