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Celebrity death rule of threes: 9 times this actually happened

Much like the internet rule 34 (please don’t ever look that up), online communities insist that bad things happen in threes, especially when it comes to celebrity deaths. For those skeptics out there, we have concrete proof — or rather, some pretty good examples — of the celebrity death rule of threes phenomenon, thought to have started when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash together in 1959.

We did a little digging and were shocked to find how many times tragic celebrity deaths have happened in threes:

1. Alan Thicke, George Michael, Carrie Fisher

Image: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images, Express/Archive Photos/Getty Images, ABC

2016, the year that took so many of our beloved celebs, had to go out with a bang. Around the holidays, Alan Thicke, George Michael and Carrie Fisher all died unexpectedly. Growing Pains star Thicke collapsed while playing hockey with his son Dec. 13. He died at a hospital several hours later. Michael, one of the ’80s greatest pop stars and the front man of Wham!, died in his sleep of heart failure. He was discovered by his longtime partner on Christmas Day. On Dec. 23, Star Wars actress Fisher was rushed to the hospital after going into cardiac arrest during a flight from London to LA. Family members said she was stable before her unexpected death was announced on Dec. 27.

2. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, René Angélil

David Bowie
Image: Supplied by Wenn/

What a start to 2016. In early January, family of legendary rock star David Bowie announced that he had lost an 18-month battle with cancer. Bowie’s death 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 died, also from cancer. Later the same day, reps for singer Céline Dion announced that her husband, René Angélil, had died from his own battle with cancer.

More: 19 gorgeous images of David Bowie and Iman

3. Prince, Chyna, Doris Roberts

Celebrity deaths
Image: Carlo Allegri/Getty Images, Bobby Bank/Getty Images, Joseph Marzullo/

A few months after David Bowie’s death rocked us, 2016 started to seem like the worst year for celebrity deaths yet. On April 17, 2016, we were saddened to hear that Doris Roberts, the lovably annoying mom on Everybody Loves Raymond, died in her sleep at age 90. Just a few days later on April 20, ex-WWE wrestler Chyna died at age 46 of an accidental drug overdose after taking sleeping pills. And one day later on April 21, fans everywhere were heartbroken to learn that Prince had met a similar fate — the music legend’s shocking death at age 57 was ruled an accidental overdose.

4. Tony Gwynn, Casey Kasem, Ruby Dee

Tony Gwynn, Casey Kasem, Ruby Dee
Image: Matthew Hynes/WENN, WENN, Joseph Mazullo/WENN

On June 11, 2015, Ruby Dee — beloved actress, writer and civil rights activist — died 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 died in a Washington state hospital at the age of 82 from complications of 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 died unexpectedly when his heart stopped. The beloved baseball star was only 54 years old.

5. Rik Mayall, Don Zimmer, Ann B. Davis

Rik Mayall, Don Zimmer, Ann B. Davis

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, he suffered a heart attack after coming back from a run.

Next Up: Peaches Geldof, Mickey Rooney, John Pinette

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