Celebrities Who Might Have Faked Their Deaths

Unlike cats, humans only die once ... or do they? See, there are a lot of people out there whose deaths are open to, if not debate, at least speculation. Most of these celebrities are so famous, it seems possible they could do anything to escape the harsh light of the world, except for actually leaving it. So in some cases — while it's not a guarantee — there are people whose deaths might have been less than final.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson's death shook the world. After coming under fire for years, the man finally passed, and we were all allowed to not hate him anymore. He died of an accidental prescription drug overdose and joined the long legion of those who passed away in a similar manner. Of course, since he's a famed celebrity, some people insisted that he was still alive.

But what about proof? Well, there's this footage revealing Jackson — still alive — walking into the hospital. There's a chance it's not real, but a doctor said that he was still alive when he arrived at the hospital, despite the official reports saying he died long before the ambulance even arrived at his home (via news.com.au). Plus, we all know Jackson had a thing for children's fiction. Would it be so out of left field for him to have moved on from "Peter Pan" to "Tom Sawyer"?

Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman was one of the weirdest and most out-there comedians ever, performing dozens of stunts and inhabiting tons of awesomely weird characters before (supposedly) dying. Of course, there's a good chance death is actually his latest, and greatest, stunt.

See, he talked about faking his death as part of a huge and extravagant stunt, according to the New York Post. So it's not like there's no warning. But you want more proof? His own brother says he's still alive, reports the New Yorker. Yeah. Of course, later he took it back, but isn't that what you would do when your brother calls you up and says, "Hey, I don't want anyone knowing I'm alive, ya jerk!" Not only that, one of his friends believes he's alive. In fact, he and Kaufman wrote a script about a character Kaufman played frequently, and in it, the character dies at the exact time and place — and of the same cause — that Kaufman supposedly did.

Abraham Lincoln

You all know the history. While taking in a play, Abraham Lincoln was shot in the back of the head by someone who thought Lincoln was a tyrant. But, there's a chance that Lincoln ... is alive. Well, okay, he's definitely not alive now (unless, as Adventure Time supposes, he is the king of Mars), but there's a chance Abraham Lincoln did not actually die in Ford's Theatre. And we have evidence!

For one, all the doctors who examined him had contradictory accounts of the way the bullet went inside his head. In addition, he supposedly had dreams for three nights in a row of his own assassination, according to "The Assassination of Lincoln," by Lloyd Lewis. We know about this because he told everyone about it — perhaps getting them prepared for what was about to happen. Lastly, the night of the play, he told his bodyguard, Crook, "Good-bye." That night was the only night Lincoln ever said that to him — every other time, it had been, "Good night."

So why would he fake his death so soon after getting reelected? Easy — because a lot of people wanted him dead, not just some actor. His "assassination" came a mere five days after the end of the Civil War. Using his death as cover to go into hiding makes a lot of sense for someone whom half of the country hates. There are very few people — even very angry people — who try to kill dead dudes.


Elvis basically began the whole "famous people never actually die" theories. Of course, it makes sense for us all to wish that the King didn't actually die. To lose such a rock and roll icon so early, that was too much for some to bear.

Of course, is it true? There's a ton of reasons to think that he might not have actually died. For one, he's reportedly been seen just about everywhereall the time. Maybe that's just the wishful thinking of people desperate for the King to still be alive. But what about reports (via Deseret News) that he was sweating at his funeral? (Fun fact, you can't sweat when you're dead.) What about the fact that his autopsy is sealed, as per Newsweek, and no one has read it? In addition, Presley's net worth became higher after he died, because you can't kick-start the nostalgia train if people see you all the time. That's plenty of reasons to think that he might not have actually passed when everyone believes he did.


Most of the dead or alive conspiracies are fun thought experiments or awesome theories that would be neat (or horrific, in one case we'll get to later) if they were true. We are not 100% convinced that any of them are true. We would not get up and argue with anyone about the death of any of these people ... except for Tupac. He's totally not dead.

'Pac supposedly died, shot in a car driven by Suge Knight, before being taken to the hospital where he finally died. Except, Suge Knight came out recently saying, "No, that didn't happen, dude." According to News Everyday, he said that Tupac faked his own death to avoid a prison sentence and since he was — ya know — with Tupac when he was supposedly shot and died, he might be a good person to listen to? That not enough? A retired cop has come out and said he helped Suge Knight cover it up, reports Vibe. Basically, Tupac is just not dead.

Kurt Cobain

You've heard of a version of the story before, but with a different ending. As All That's Interesting details, Kurt Cobain — fed up with fame, touring, and his life — pens a letter, letting everyone know that he's leaving the band and going away, receding from public life. But then, Courtney Love came in and saw what he was doing, and here's where the stories diverge. Most versions have Love forcing him to write — or actually writing — a tiny bit, scrawled at the end, in a different tone and handwriting, directly mentioning his suicide. Then, she murders him.

But most who knew the couple claim that Love would never have hurt Cobain, and that the two were truly in love. There's no chance. So what's the other answer? Is there a chance that people caught on to the right evidence — the hastily scribbled endnote — but taken it in the wrong light? Instead of it being proof Love killed him, is there a chance that the two of them worked together to fake his death? All of the conspiracy theories alleging Love acting flippant or hostile or anything else would fit this perfectly, as would the claims that Love would never have hurt him.

Adolf Hitler

Here's that horrific theory we mentioned earlier. Want proof that the world is an uncaring hellhole designed to rip out your hearts and laugh while shredding it? There's a chance Adolf Hitler is still alive, though thankfully too damn old to do much evil. As the story goes, Hitler and Eva Braun — cowering in the bunker — did not actually die there. Instead, the pair killed others, burned the bodies, and escaped to Argentina, as per the Daily Mail, or somewhere else like that.

Of course this is a super ridiculous idea, isn't it? Well, not according to an ex-CIA agent who believes Hitler did fake his death, according to the Mirror. He escaped justice and lived out a long and fruitful life, with no one knowing one of the most hated men on the planet was still alive. So, just remember, if you buy an amateur painting, with no idea who painted it ... there's a chance you just lined the Fuhrer's pockets a tad.

Princess Diana

Princess Diana "died" in a car crash in a tunnel, which has been in part blamed on the intrusiveness of paparazzi. No matter what she did, the paparazzi would attempt to insinuate themselves into every part of her life. Of course, there are some people who believe that her death was actually just a cover. Why would Di fake her death? Please read the last few sentences again.

Right before she died, Di even said that she was about to recede from public life completely, according to Londonnet. One interesting fact is that her driver argues the car wasn't going as fast as everyone claims. In addition, the car's normal driver wasn't used, and the security officer who was there is shrouded in mystery. Some people don't even believe he exists. Oh, and there's rumors that you can spot Princess Diana at the wedding of her son!

Amelia Earhart

Few things have captured the public's imagination than the disappearance of famous aviatrix Amelia Earhart. The official story is that she crashed in the Pacific Ocean after running out of fuel, dead on impact or shortly after while stranded on Howland Island. Earhart expert Colonel Rollin Reineck disagrees, however, and has gone as far as writing a book, "Amelia Earhart Survived," presenting evidence to the contrary.

Reineck's evidence includes a phone conversation between Eleanor Roosevelt and Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr., where Morgenthau says that Earhart had orders, disregarded them, was taken prisoner by Japanese soldiers after her crash, and that if the truth ever went public, Earhart's stellar, heroic reputation would be obliterated.

Other Earhartophiles, like the Protecting Earhart/Irene-Amelia group, admits Earhart did crash, but in the Marshall Islands. She ended up in Japanese custody, and wound up staying there, under the name Irene Craigmile (a name stolen from a former student of Earhart's who was thought to have died in the early-1940's). Earhart, under her new name, quietly returned to America as a banker in Long Island, NY, eventually marrying an Englishman named Guy Bolam. There's passionate opposition to this theory, but a lot of forensic evidence the Protecting Earhart people present is relatively compelling.

So, did Amelia Earhart fake her death? Or did the US government fake it and sweep her story under the rug to keep her reputation pristine? Even all these years later, researchers practically foam at the mouth trying to uncover the truth.

Jesse James

The traditional story of celebrity outlaw Jesse James' death is that he was shot in the back by Robert Ford. His grave marker reads (via History), "Jesse W. James, Died April 3, 1882, Aged 34 years, 6 months, 28 days. Murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here." In a movie title, yes, but not a tombstone.

Thing is, rumors of James' death in the past had been "greatly exaggerated," and there are many who believe the Ford incident was just another case of James eluding justice. One theory is that James belonged to The Knights of the Golden Circle, a secret society of Confederates who continued the Civil War underground. A sex worker posing as James' wife was bribed to identify the corpse, according to this theory, which is certainly the most outrageous idea out there.

As for real evidence that James faked his death, just ask the self-proclaimed descendants who have conducted tons of research to back up their claims. Betty Dorsett Duke, for example, believed her paternal great-grandfather — James Lafayette Courtney — was, in fact, Jesse James (via Texas Monthly). Apparently, though Courtney claimed to be a mere Union farmer, he was a preternaturally accurate shot with a pistol. His diary includes entries about Bill Wilkerson, a bona-fide member of the James Gang. Plus, the family just looked alike. Duke's paternal great-grandmother looked just like James' mother, right down to her missing left forearm.

Others have claimed to have found the "real" James too, like the anthropologist from Wichita State University who claimed Jeremiah James, a Kansas farmer who died in 1935, was Jesse James all along, reports CBS. Or how about the Granburys, a Texas family who insist that their relative, J. Frank Dalton, was the real Jesse James, and who lived to the ripe old age of 103. Subjected to DNA testing in 2000, researchers determined that the body exhumed from J. Frank Dalton's grave wasn't Jesse James, but the family insists that the wrong body was tested.

It may well be that the real question isn't Jesse James faked his death, but rather what he got up to once he did.

Billy The Kid

Some William H. Bonney enthusiasts insist that Bonney, also known as Billy the Kid, indeed died at the hands of Pat Garrett on July 14, 1881. According to the Business Standard, Garrett shot the Kid in the chest, a coroner's jury of six was assembled, the jury foreman told a local newspaper it was "the Kid's body that we examined," and Bonney was buried near Fort Sumter with a wooden marker on his grave.

Enter Homer Overton who recalled hearing, at 9 years old, Pat Garrett's widow claiming her husband and Bonney were actually friends. She told Overton that her husband and the Kid, looking to help the Kid escape justice undetected, shot a random drunk in the face, making him unrecognizable, which is why the coroner's jury could mistake remains.

As NBC details, Overton says he believed the story, and his statement was offered as evidence for a 2003 motion to exhume the body of Catherine Antrim, William Bonney's mother. The reason for disturbing Mama's eternal rest is because the Kid's alleged corpse had been washed away in a flood years ago. The goal was to compare Antrim's DNA with Ollie "Brushy Bill" Roberts, a man who claimed to be Billy the Kid. The court rejected the request, stating that petitioners should try to find the Kid's remains first. Since that's pretty much impossible by this point, the DNA request went nowhere.

With no body, and the incident with Garrett so far in the past, we may never know if Billy the Kid died in that hotel room in 1881, or if he lies in a grave marked with another man's name.

Aleister Crowley

You might not know who The Wickedest Man in the World is, but here's a quick version — Abra Kadabra? He came up with that. And now for the longer version: Aleister Crowley was a man who, in the late 1800s/early 1900s developed a system of magic — that he spelled with a K — that led to, in addition to "abra kadabra," a rise in Western fascination with magick and the occult, as per Britannica. If it weren't for him, chances are you wouldn't know what a wiccan is, or what the Key of Solomon looks like. (It's this. You've definitely seen it before.) He was also called the Wickedest Man in the World because he was kind of a pretentious dink plus, ya know, all the magick stuff.

Now, seemingly, Crowley died of pneumonia and other old-age related illnesses at 72. And if it weren't for the fact that he was just generally a jerk, we might leave it at that. But, see, this isn't the first time people believed he had died. See, he faked his death before — he left a note describing his heartbreak on a cliff, and then went into hiding. A poet started suggesting to local townspeople the note had occult symbols. Some of the townspeople then said they saw his ghost! Now, sure, he did announce he was alive not that long after, but maybe he's just waiting a long, long, long time time time? Look, we've got a magician with a penchant for faking his death, and we're supposed to believe pneumonia took him out? Sure.


Rasputin might be alive for the simple reason that absolutely nothing could kill him. For those not in the know, Tsar Nicholas II's creepy little buddy was really, really hated. People hated the crazy Russian to the point that they attempted to kill him just so many times. Here's what happened the night he "died." As History details, first, he was fed cyanide food that he didn't react to, before shot and left for dead, but that didn't kill him either. After running away a bit, he was shot again. Then beat up. And ... he was still alive. So then, losing all patience, his "killers" bound him and threw him in a river.

Now, supposedly, his body was found a few days later, but look at the man. How hard would it be to find a double for him? Are we really supposed to believe a man who doesn't react to cyanide or a gunshot wound would be done in by a chilly river? No.

Richey Edwards

Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers disappeared without a trace on February 1, 1995, as per the Independent. He was a tortured sort of soul, who had to be committed several times for "self harm," drinking, and anorexia. So when he vanished, it was assumed by some that he committed suicide, especially since his car was discovered near the Severn Bridge, a notorious suicide spot.

But did he? According to a timeline of events, for two weeks before his disappearance, this celebrity drew £200 per day from his bank account, giving him £2,800 in cash. The day before his disappearance, he told his mom he wasn't looking forward to going to America to promote the band and would prefer to stay near his old haunts ((this pun totally intended). He also definitively spoke out about suicide and insisted that he would never do it. Plus, they never found a body, and many people claim to have spotted him in various countries since his disappearance. Of course, people have said the same about Elvis so...

Did Richey Edwards take his own life? Or did he run away from a life that was quickly becoming the mainstream consumerism-driven thing he was trying to avoid? Was he murdered by the New World Order, as some conspiracy theorists suggest? We'll probably never know.