Tommy Chong is not dead, so everyone worried about the rumors spreading across the internet can just mellow out a bit.
The story has spread across the internet this week in a few different variants, with one saying the 77-year-old comedian and marijuana aficionado had died of cancer and another claiming that he took his own life. The stories made the rounds on Facebook and Twitter, gaining a mix of shock and sadness from his fans.
As the Gamer’s Drop noted, the headline on the Facebook post claimed that he died early on Wednesday morning, but the report itself was actually much older.
“Interestingly though, the report from a site called ViralTimeLapse.com says he passed away on January 27, 2016 — eight months ago. So why is the report going viral just now?”
This makes Tommy Chong one of a growing number of celebrities to find themselves victims of a death hoax. These stories have increased in frequency in the last few years as people creating the hoaxes try to drive traffic to their websites or trick readers into sharing personal information in order to read the story.
That is the case with another death hoax making the rounds this week, one claiming that actor Brad Pitt had taken his life in the wake of his divorce from Angelina Jolie. The story circulated on Facebook and required readers to give the website access to their personal Facebook info, before directing them to a crudely written story claiming that Pitt shot himself at a shooting range.
“Brad Pitt, 52, a multiawarded American actor and husband of Angelina Jolie, 41, shot himself in the head at a shooting range on Sunday. He was under significant stress because the couple ‘were going through a divorce and he had a history of depression’, sources have said.”
Although the story claiming that Tommy Chong is dead had some obvious holes, it still struck home for many fans who have been following the comedian’s health struggles. Chong, part of the comedy duo Cheech and Chong, announced earlier this year that his rectal cancer had returned. The cancer is believed to be treatable, but it is now the second time in the last five years that he has battled cancer.
— HIGH TIMES (@HIGH_TIMES_Mag) September 17, 2016
— Tommy Chong (@tommychong) September 17, 2016
Chong announced that he would be undergoing chemotherapy and radiation starting in the summer, and he would also be using marijuana to help ease the side effects of the treatment.
The chemo and radiation were prescribed by the comedian’s doctors. The marijuana part was Chong’s idea.
“I don’t tell them I smoke, we don’t talk about that. That’s a no-no,” Chong said in an interview with ABC News. “But as far as the treating it with suppositories and that, they’re all for it.”
Chong went on to say that marijuana was a big help going through an otherwise draining and intensive treatment.
“The main thing about pot is it affects your mental state,” he told ABC News. “Instead of moaning and groaning about what you have, you start listening to music and reading books, and you get very creative….It takes the brain off, ‘The glass is half-empty,’ and puts it on ‘The glass is half-full.'”
Tommy Chong had already gone through one cancer battle with the help of marijuana, using alternative therapy again after his 2012 diagnosis of early stage prostate cancer.
I'm not dead but I just smoked a killer joint.
— Tommy Chong (@tommychong) September 23, 2016
Although there were plenty of signs indicating that the story about Tommy Chong being dead was false, it still managed to fool a number of people who have shared memories and condolences on social media.
But Chong himself is trying to put a stop to it, tweeting, “I’m not dead but I just smoked a killer joint.”
[Featured Image by John Salangsang/Invision/AP Images]