Alan Rickman Dies at 69

Actor Alan Rickman has died at the age of 69 due to cancer, his family confirmed in a statement. Some social media users were initially confused by hoax news reports refuting the breaking news.

Published Jan. 14, 2016

Actor Alan Rickman, best known to American audiences for his portrayal of Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film franchise, has died at the age of 69.

Details about the date of Rickman's death have not been confirmed, but on 14 January 2016 The Guardian reported:

Alan Rickman, one of the best-loved and most warmly admired British actors of the past 30 years, has died in London aged 69. His death was confirmed on Thursday by his family who said that he died “surrounded by family and friends”. Rickman had been suffering from cancer.

The paper noted that in addition to a lengthy and well-regarded career on stage and in film, Rickman was also a staunch supporter of many political causes:

Rickman remained politically active throughout his life: he was born, he said, “a card-carrying member of the Labour party”, and was highly involved with charities including Saving Faces and the International Performers’ Aid Trust, which seeks to help artists in developing and poverty-stricken countries.

Potter author J.K. Rowling eulogized Rickman on Twitter; Rowling long lauded his portrayal of Snape on the silver screen:

Daniel Radcliffe, who portrayed the series titular character, wrote on Google Plus:

Alan Rickman is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with. He is also, one of the loyalest and most supportive people I've ever met in the film industry. He was so encouraging of me both on set and in the years post-Potter. I'm pretty sure he came and saw everything I ever did on stage both in London and New York. He didn't have to do that. I know other people who've been friends with him for much much longer than I have and they all say "if you call Alan, it doesn't matter where in the world he is or how busy he is with what he's doing, he'll get back to you within a day".

People create perceptions of actors based on the parts they played so it might surprise some people to learn that contrary to some of the sterner(or downright scary) characters he played, Alan was extremely kind, generous, self-deprecating and funny. And certain things obviously became even funnier when delivered in his unmistakable double-bass.

As an actor he was one of the first of the adults on Potter to treat me like a peer rather than a child. Working with him at such a formative age was incredibly important and I will carry the lessons he taught me for the rest of my life and career. Film sets and theatre stages are all far poorer for the loss of this great actor and man.

According to The Guardian, Rickman's final work involved "taping a voiceover for a short film called This Tortoise Could Save a Life, in aid of Save the Children and Refugee Council." Arrangements for a funeral or memorial services have not been disclosed.

After news of Rickman's death began circulating in the early hours of 14 January 2016, a fake news site featured a page claiming the actor's passing was a "hoax." The content has since been changed, but some social media users were confused by the initial, apparently conflicting information:

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.