It’s always a difficult time when our heroes die, often the announcement of a celebrity passing will cause a worldwide outbreak of grief. It’s particularly tough when our idols, seemingly so successful and popular, has hidden demons: whether that be gangland ‘beef’ or is battling addiction.
In an apparent denial that some of the world’s biggest and brightest stars could possibly be gone, the internet becomes overrun with rumors about conspiracy theories regarding the deaths of some of the most famous people in the world. Here are the top ten celebrities that conspiracy theorists believe faked their own deaths.
10. Kurt Cobain
High school drop-out and grunge megastar Kurt Cobain was found dead in his home, apparently due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, on April 1994. Ever since then, fans have speculated on whether or not Cobain really did die. Bizarrely some fans believe that Cobain actually lives as the lead singer of Weezer, Rivers Cuomo, who is said to be obsessed with Nirvana.
Having jumped over a fence to escape a treatment center, Cobain flew back to Seattle. In the following couple of days, Cobain’s friends and family didn’t know where he was although there were various sightings of him around Seattle. It was only when an electrician came to Cobain’s home to fit a new security system that Cobain’s body was discovered. The coroner’s report suggested that Cobain’s body had been there for several days.
Despite his well-documented problems and the existence of a suicide note, Seattle Police Department claims they still get at least one weekly request to reopen the investigation into Kurt Cobain’s death. Conspiracy theorists got excited when Seattle police did look at the case again but all they found was a note that Courtney Love claims to have written.
9. Diana, Princess of Wales
On 31st August 1997, Diana was fatally injured in a car crash in Paris, her bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was the only survivor. As with much of her adult life, rumors circulated including that the British Royal Family had something to do with the shocking death. Although an inquest recorded the verdict of ‘unlawful killing’, the blame was placed on the negligent driver Henri Paul and the paparazzi who had been driving dangerously to get shots of Diana and her companion Dodi Fayed.
There are some people who believe that Diana, Princess of Wales, faked her death in order to disappear from the public eye. Having been hounded by the press for many years, conspiracy theorists think that Diana – possibly pregnant with Dodi’s child – wanted to live a quiet life. However, those closest to Diana maintain she would not have left her two young sons – William and Harry – despite the pressure she felt being under constant scrutiny.
In 2006, an Italian magazine published previously unseen photographs of Diana in the wreckage of the car crash, decimating the idea that Diana had escaped the accident unharmed and started a new life under the radar. Others claimed they spotted the self-styled ‘Queen of Hearts’ at her eldest son’s wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011.
8. Jim Morrison
Another member of the infamous 27 Club, Jim Morrison is known as one of the most influential men in rock music history. The iconic frontman of The Doors died in Paris in July 1971 but many still think Morrison’s death was faked due, possibly due to several outstanding lawsuits against him.
How Jim Morrison came to die, and who was to blame, has been the subject of many books, interviews, and documentaries. Morrison’s long-term partner, Pamela Courson, allegedly told friends that Jim had died due to an accidental overdose but vacillated between that and telling people that she had killed him. Singer Marianne Faithfull claimed in 2014 that a drug dealer she was dating in 1971 was responsible for Morrison’s death.
However, on Morrison’s death certificate, the cause of death was noted as ‘heart failure’ even though no autopsy was performed. People still regularly claim to have seen Jim Morrison, or better yet to be him. All evidence points to Jim Morrison dying in Paris in 1971. However, this doesn’t stop fans stalking friends and family of Morrison in hope that they’ll find their idol alive.
7. Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart, aviation pioneer, and author was attempting to circumnavigate the globe when her plane, a Lockheed Model 10 Electra, allegedly ran out of fuel – apparently leaving her to ditch the plane in the ocean.
Amelia Earhart was declared dead in absentia in January 1939, 18 months after going missing, following her husband, George P. Putnam’s petition to have the seven-year waiting period wavered so that he could take control of her finances.
Conspiracy theorists have suggested that the Bermuda Triangle, aliens or the Japanese were to blame for the disappearance of America’s sweetheart. Some think Amelia had decided to retire to a quiet life away from the spotlight or that she was captured by Japanese services and forced to voice anti-American propaganda, potentially as Tokyo Rose.
However, partial remains were found on an island in 1940. They were the remains of a white woman with Earhart’s measurements, accompanied by a pocket knife, a piece of glass from a plane’s windshield and the exact same type of navigation system Earhart had been using. Strangely though that those remains have since been lost…
6. Andy Kaufman
American entertainer Andy Kaufman apparently told many that he wanted to fake his own death and that, if he did, he’d return twenty years later for the big reveal. Having died in May 1984 of kidney failure brought about by a rare form of lung cancer that spread aggressively, Kaufman left many fans in disbelief.
Bob Zmuda, Kaufman’s long-time friend, has switched stories many times, acknowledging that Kaufman seemed ‘obsessed’ with the idea of faking his death. He later said that he knew for sure that Kaufman was dead. However, Zmuda co-authored a book with Kaufman’s former girlfriend, stating that Kaufman is still alive and would be revealing himself soon.
One of Kaufman’s characters, abusive warm-up act Tony Clifton, continued making appearances after Kaufman’s death however some speculate that it was either Zmuda or Kaufman’s brother under the make-up. Kaufman’s death certificate is on file with LA Health Services and is available to view on The Smoking Gun website.
5. Michael Jackson
Despite his well-documented health problems, Michael Jackson’s fans were unable to believe that in 2009 when he passed away just weeks before his comeback concerts were due to begin in London. Earlier in 2009, Jackson had announced the This Is It tour as his ‘final curtain call’, hinting that he would retire. This Is It was set to make Jackson a great deal of money.
Rumors continue to swirl that the King of Pop was trying to escape debt, while others think that he had over-committed to tour promoters AEG and that faking his own death was the only way Jackson could get out of the 50 date tour without bankrupting himself.
Some conspiracy theorists believed the assertions of Jackson’s executors, that his estate was only worth $7 million and he, therefore, felt he had to disappear to escape debts. However, the IRS value Jackson’s estate to be worth $1.1 billion.
Since Michael Jackson’s death, the family have been consulting with lawyers with wrongful death experience to create a lawsuit against the doctor who administered the drugs that killed him as well as a wrongful death suit against the tour promoters. If Jackson had faked his death, it would be difficult to prosecute people for it…
4. Tupac Shakur
The rapper, who renamed himself Makaveli (after Machiavelli who once advocated faking your own death to outsmart your enemies), was shot in an apparent revenge attack for brawling with a member of the Crips gang in Vegas. Tupac Shakur was declared dead on 13th September 1996, six days after he was shot.
Many believe that Tupac faked the drive-by in order to make a quiet escape from an increasingly violent and menacing rap industry. Their proof? The fact that 2Pac has appeared in countless of albums since his alleged death. Conspiracy theorists propose that these tracks were recorded while 2Pac was in hiding and have been released under the guise of being unfinished at the time of his death.
Suge Knight, co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records, who happened to be in the same car on the night of the drive-by, and who has been implicated in the shooting, claimed recently that Tupac was still alive.
3. Notorious B.I.G.
Biggie Smalls, AKA Notorious B.I.G., AKA Christopher Wallace was another victim of a drive-by shooting in LA, six months after the death of Tupac Shakur. Biggie, whose album Life after Death was released sixteen days after his death, was involved in East coast-West coast rap rivalries and his murder still remains unsolved.
Loyal fans question whether his ‘death’, in March 1997, was a set-up to get Biggie away from the violence and crime associated with the rap business. More cynical people suggest Biggie faked his own death in order to stop rumours that he was involved in the death of Tupac Shakur. Even worse, some have suggested that Smalls was jealous of the posthumous rise in Shakur’s popularity and decided to give death a go.
2. Elvis Presley
In striking similarity to Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley – the music icon of his day – was addicted to prescription drugs. Unlike Jackson, Presley was flogging himself to death on stage, touring year after year.
Presley, who at the time of his death was suffering from glaucoma, an enlarged heart, liver damage and an enlarged colon, was becoming increasingly paranoid and audiences at his gigs were voicing their displeasure at his inability to make it through a show. Elvis Presley was declared dead on August 16th, 1977 – the night he was due to leave Memphis to begin yet another tour.
Conspiracy theorists believe that Elvis bought a ticket to South America so that he could disappear from the public eye for good. The existence of photos of Elvis’s open coffin should put an end to any conspiracy theories however some die-hards claim that the body in those photos was a waxwork. A couple of weeks after his funeral, an attempt to steal whatever was in the coffin was foiled and Elvis was reburied in Graceland.
Many people to this day claim to have seen Elvis in public – some even suggesting he’s working as an Elvis impersonator although he would be 80-years-old now…
1. Jimi Hendrix
Yet another iconic member of the 27 Club, Jimi Hendrix’s wild ways, and drug use are said to have contributed to his untimely demise. However, hundreds of people claim to have seen Hendrix since his alleged death in London in 1970. Some conspiracy theorists feel there are too many inconsistencies surrounding his death for it to have truly happened and that he is still out there, making new music.
Guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, known for his alcohol and substance abuse, was pronounced dead and it was believed, at the time of his death, that he had choked on his own vomit after consuming a lot of sleeping pills. Unable to ascertain if it was accidental or not, the coroner recorded an open verdict. Although Scotland Yard reopened the case in the 1990s, it was not to investigate if Hendrix had somehow faked his own death but instead to pinpoint how and why he had died.
The truth is, many people saw Jimi Hendrix’s body following his death including doctors and loved ones.