Rue McClanahan: Why News About Death Of The ‘Golden Girls’ Star Keeps Going Viral

Rue McClanahan passed away five years ago, but for the second time since then news of her passing hit the internet in a strange reverse-death hoax.

The resurgence of stories about the death of the Golden Girls star highlight what seems to be an odd trend of faked celebrity death stories hitting the internet. McClanahan, while the only one of the celebrities actually dead, is far from the only repeat target, but her case may be the most unique.

Late last year, reports circulated that troubled actor Macaulay Culkin had died, the third time in the last two and a half years that a hoax claimed the life of the Home Alone star.

The latest report linked to a story on a site called, which is meant to look like the actual MSNBC site. The report contained statement.

“Sources are reporting that Macaulay Culkin, best known for his role as Kevin McCallister in Home Alone and sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, has been found dead at the age of 34.”

“Multiple unconfirmed reports say Culkin was found dead Friday afternoon in his Manhattan apartment after police responded to a wellness check requested by a family member.”

“At least one occupant of the Manhattan apartment confirmed the apartment belongs to Culkin but police have not confirmed the man’s identity at this time.”

“The apartment was exceptionally clean and we found no signs of abuse or foul-play so we are depending on the coroner to make a final ruling of what happened here today,” said Det. James Patterson, of the Manhattan Police Department.”

There have been others targeted more than once, including actors Will Smith and Morgan Freeman. The motivation for these hoaxes is unclear — they are often posted directly to social media including Facebook, where there is no money to be made by causing the news to go viral. Many have speculated that those posting them could simply want attention or to see how far their lies might spread.

Rue McClanahan’s case may be the strangest, but there may be an explanation as well.

There is an explanation from Moviefone.

“Though there’s no logical reasoning behind this strange phenomenon (and we stress the word “logical” here), CBS has a bit of an explanation as to how this may have happened. Apparently, a ‘Golden Girls’ fan shared a obituary of McClanahan on Thursday with her more than 21,000 Facebook followers, reacting to the actress’s death as if it just occurred. And even though that obit clearly stated the date (it’s right atop the headline), the post was nonetheless shared another 2,637 times, and the mistaken news swept across the web.”

But now those readers know that Rue McClanahan is dead — and has been for quite some time.

[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]

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