Fact Check

Sam Elliott: The Latest Celebrity Targeted by a Viral Death Hoax

He's still alive. Videos and social media posts that claimed otherwise were not reputable sources of news. 

Published Aug. 8, 2023

 (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Image Via Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Claim:
Sam Elliott was dead, as of August 2023.

In August 2023, claims circulated on social media platforms that actor Sam Elliott had died. He had not. The rumor was nothing more than a death hoax.

The false rumor spread via at least two YouTube videos. For example, on Aug. 2, 2023, a YouTube video was posted titled, "Sam Elliott Tribute." The thumbnail for the video showed 1944, the year he was born, and 2023. "Let's keep the legacy of Sam Elliott alive and kicking," the video claimed.

The following day, another YouTube video was posted under the title, "10 Minutes Ago! American Actor Sam Elliott His Last Goodbye On His Deathbed #whodiedtoday." The video's description box read, "Today, we're saying goodbye to a true Hollywood legend, Sam Elliott."

We also found posts with the false claim about Elliott on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. We reached out to his publicist with a request for comment about the claim, and we will update this fact-check if we receive a response.

The YouTube videos mentioned above originated from channels that are not reputable sources of news about celebrity deaths.

The first video titled "Sam Elliott Tribute" was posted by the channel "Ripples In Time," which described itself on its "About" page as a channel dedicated to "old movies, classic movies, old TV shows, documentaries, History and much more." Meanwhile, the other video was posted by the channel "Celeb Breaking News," and that channel appeared to be dedicated to death hoaxes. At the time of this writing, the channel had posted death hoax videos about country singer Luke Bryan, boxer Mike Tyson, and "America's Got Talent" judge Simon Cowell within two days.

Furthermore, had Elliot really died, reputable news publications, such as The Associated Press, would have memorialized him with obituaries on their websites. That had not happened.

At least two websites — Sportskeedia and the U.S. edition of The Sun tabloid — wrote about Elliott being targeted by the death hoax, citing an alleged Facebook post that supposedly claimed he had died on Aug. 4, 2023. We could not find that purported Facebook post, nor an archived version of it if it had been deleted, as of this writing. 

Additionally, both Sportskeedia and The Sun published an alleged statement by a representative of Elliott, reading, "He joins the long list of celebrities who have been victimized by this hoax. He's still alive and well, stop believing what you see on the Internet." The Sun did not cite where or how it supposedly obtained that statement, though Sportskeedia credited the satirical website Mediamass as its source. Mediamass has a history of spreading celebrity death hoaxes that go viral.

On Mediamass' pages about Tim Curry and Steve Harvey, for example, the alleged statement about Elliott ("He joins the long list of celebrities who have been victimized...") was repeated verbatim, though intended to be about Curry and Harvey.

August 2023 was not the first time the internet targeted Elliot with a death hoax. We previously debunked a 2019 rumor that claimed he had "passed away peacefully in his sleep."

We've previously fact-checked similar false rumors about the deaths of celebrities, including singer Celine Dion, actor Jeremy Renner, and actor Cassi Davis.

Sources

Celeb Breaking News - YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/@celeb-breakingnews. Accessed 8 Aug. 2023.

Liles, Jordan. "Actor Cassi Davis Is Alive, Despite Death Hoax Shared Online." Snopes, 20 Feb. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/cassi-davis-alive-is-not-dead/.

---. "Celine Dion Death Hoax Misleadingly Rehashes Old Health News." Snopes, 1 Aug. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/celine-dion-health-death-hoax/.

---. "Jeremy Renner Is Not Dead, Despite False Rumor About 'Freak Escalator Accident.'" Snopes, 23 June 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/jeremy-renner-dead-june-2023/.

---. "Simon Cowell Is Not Dead, Despite 'Very Sad News' Death Hoax." Snopes, 1 Dec. 2022, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/simon-cowell-death-hoax/.

MacGuill, Dan. "Is U.S. Actor Sam Elliott Really Dead?" Snopes, 15 July 2019, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/actor-sam-elliott-really-dead/.

Marwah, Srishti. Is 1883's Sam Elliott Dead? Viral Social Media Hoax Debunked. 7 Aug. 2023, https://www.sportskeeda.com/pop-culture/news-is-1883-s-sam-elliott-dead-viral-social-media-hoax-debunked.

Raemason, Summer. "Why Is 'Sam Elliott Dead' Trending?" The US Sun, 8 Aug. 2023, https://www.the-sun.com/entertainment/8789524/sam-elliot-dead-trending/.

Ripples In Time - YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/@ripplesintimeofficial/about. Accessed 8 Aug. 2023.

The Mediamass Project : Media Criticism through Satire. https://en.mediamass.net/blog/mediamass-project. Accessed 8 Aug. 2023.

Izz Scott LaMagdeleine is a fact-checker for Snopes.