Death's no longer the ruffian on the stair -- lately he seems to be a party crasher who won't go home. The just-concluded summer has seen an extraordinary number of high-profile obituaries, beginning with the June trifecta of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon, and leading to the recent passings of Edward Kennedy and Dominick Dunne. Some have been iconic figures (Jim Carroll), while others have fallen into the oh-that-guy category (John Hart, TV's "other" Lone Ranger); there have been obituaries to tug at the emotions of Baby Boomers (Mary Travers), sports fans (Jack Kramer) and the multiplex (Patrick Swayze).
It's no wonder then how quickly a supposedly jaded and tech-smart public will believe rumors of a celebrity death. Or perhaps we believe because we are so jaded and tech-smart -- we're so inured to red-carpet obituaries that when we see an Internet claim about the death of an actor or singer, we think, Sure, why not? The latest false death rumor, exposed by RadarOnline, has been of former Charlie's Angel Jaclyn Smith, who supposedly committed suicide in Honduras. According to a Donna Kaufman post on iVillage, the story was based on a former stunt double of Smith's having "been rushed to the hospital with a gunshot wound, while Smith remains alive and well in Beverly Hills."
Kaufman ended her report with a warning ("with the increasing popularity of Twitter, those rumors spread faster than ever") and, of course, a list of Top 10 Celebrity Death Hoaxes.
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Among the best details are how, over the past three years, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and Jeff Goldblum
had all been rumored to have fallen to their deaths from a cliff in New
Zealand -- while poor Eminem had to settle for dying in the wreck of
a rental car. Click the iVillage link above to see the whole list.