As much as we'd like to cross our fingers and pretend that bad things don't come in threes, the Celebrity Death Rule of Threes is a real phenomenon — believed to have started when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "the Big Bopper" Richardson died together in a plane crash in 1959.
What sounds like a silly urban legend is anything but. We did a little digging and were shocked to find how many times tragic celebrity deaths have happened in threes:
What a start to 2016. On Sunday, family of legendary rockstar David Bowie announced that he had lost an 18-month battle with cancer. Bowie's passing was a huge shock to fans; Ziggy Stardust had stayed out of the limelight in recent years, and kept his cancer battle a secret. Not even a week later, Harry Potter fans were devastated to learn that Alan Rickman, famous for his role as Professor Severus Snape, had passed away, also from cancer. Later the same day, reps for singer Céline Dion announced that her husband, René Angélil, had passed from his own battle with cancer.
On June 11, 2015, Ruby Dee — beloved actress, writer and civil rights activist — passed away at her home in New York from natural causes. The legend, whose credits include A Raisin in the Sun and American Gangster, was 91. On June 15, radio icon Casey Kasem passed away in a Washington state hospital at the age of 82 from complications from Lewy body dementia. The inimitable host of the American Top 40 Countdown had been the center of a heated medical tug-of-war between his wife, Jean Kasem, and his children for several months preceding his death. The third celebrity death in less than a week, "Mr. Padre" Tony Gwynn passed away unexpectedly when his heart stopped. The beloved baseball star was only 54 years old.
Although she enjoyed many roles in her lengthy career, Ann B. Davis was best known for her role as the unflappable maid, Alice, on The Brady Bunch. Her death, which happened on June 1, came after the otherwise healthy 88-year-old fell in her bathroom and sustained a subdural hematoma. A few days later on June 4, the world lost another baseball legend when Don Zimmer died at the age of 83 from heart and kidney problems. Just a week after Davis' death, news broke that comedian, writer and actor Rik Mayall had died suddenly at the age of 56. According to his wife, the Drop Dead Fred star suffered a heart attack after coming back from a run.
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