Deaths in Threes – Do Deaths Come in 3 or Do Celebrity Deaths Come in Threes

Janet Jackson BET Awards “Deaths occur in threes. If one person in your family dies, two more will within a short period of time.” Do deaths come in threes or is it just an old wives tale? There’s been a lot of discussion in the last few days that deaths always happen in threes or celebrity deaths come in threes, and questions about where the “deaths come in 3” tale came from.

My understanding is that the origin of the old wives tale or legend about deaths occurring in threes came from the first world war. When the men would light their cigarettes they knew not to use 3 on a match because the enemy could pinpoint them and shoot them from the light of the match being lit so long.

The myth about deaths in threes is often used as proof regarding “notable”, famous celebrities, but people tend to forget about the deaths of celebrities who may not be quite as famous and well known around the world as others who have died.

Some people also claim that the deaths in threes rule applies to deaths occurring within 3 days of each other, while others claim the myth applies to deaths happening “within a short period of time” according to the legend.

The Wall Street Journal listed some “deaths in threes” examples like this:

• Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the “Big Bopper” all died together in a plane crash in 1959
• Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison all died in close succession in 1970-71
• In 2003, Johnny Cash, John Ritter, and Warren Zevon all died within the same week
• In 2005, King Fahd, Peter Jennings and Robin Cook died within a week of each other
• The following year brought the closely timed deaths of Don Knotts, Darren McGavin and Dennis Weaver
• Heath Ledger, Suzanne Pleshette and Brad Renfro all died within a week of each other in January 2008

2009 Celebrity Deaths

If famous celebrity deaths really occur in threes, then who is next?

1. David Carradine
2. Ed McMahon
3. Farrah Fawcett


1. Michael Jackson
2. Billy Mays
3. ????

“If you are at a graveside and for some reason the there is a delay in the burial, it is a sign that the deceased person does not wish to leave this earth alone and want to travel with someone. One of the mourners present will die soon.” Oh pa-leeeze.

RIP Michael JacksonOut of all the recent celebrity deaths in 2009, Michael Jackson’s death has hit me the hardest. Perhaps it comes from the deep and profound connection I feel having been born into the same controlling religion (or cult) as Michael, or maybe it’s because of the abuse Michael himself reported in the “Living with Michael Jackson” documentary interview with Martin Basher as having experienced as a child at the hand of his father Joe Jackson, and the aftereffects of such abuse. Maybe it’s all of that plus his incredible music career throughout all these years, and watching the Jackson Five on television years ago, but I’m a huge fan of Michael Jackson and always will be.

Losing Michael Jackson far too soon, at the age of just 50 years old, came as a huge shock to all Jackson fans. I can’t even imagine what the Jackson family must be going through right now, and seeing devastated Janet Jackson at the BET Awards show and Jermaine Jackson’s tearful interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show shook us all to the core of our being.

Don’t even get me started talking about Joe Jackson’s behavior before the BET Awards show, where he chose that time to promote and hype a stupid record company in the wake of his son’s death. I have no sympathy for Joe Jackson whatsoever, but my heart breaks for the rest of the Jackson family and Michael Jackson’s children, who are suffering deeply and are apparently about to be thrown into a child custody battle involving Debbie Rowe, according to recent news reports.

If the deaths in threes old wives tale were true, then I’d be worried. Having just attended the funeral for my husband’s 84-year-old aunt yesterday along with other family members and friends, if deaths really do happen in threes then all I can say is Uh-Oh, who is next?

R.I.P. Michael Jackson – you will be dearly missed.

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4 Responses to “Deaths in Threes – Do Deaths Come in 3 or Do Celebrity Deaths Come in Threes”

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  1. Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Lin -I read this over on Facebook but I came over here to discuss because my uncle died recently and my cousins read my facebook stuff so I don’t want to upset them.

    He was only 57 though and his death has scared the crap out of me. And I was reading your stuff and getting the feeling that you were a bit worried too.

    I wonder if deaths really do come in threes? Many years ago, we lost a few family members within a fairly short time. First were both my grandparents – but a short while after was my next door neighbour, then my ex husband’s grandfather.

    So, I think it’s maybe a coincidence, as they weren’t all blood relatives. But it’s still worrying. And I have to admit – I’ve gone from being really careless about my health – to being obsessed with health over the last few weeks.

    Oh by the way – I think Joe Jackson’s a horrid little man too. A lot of people are worried the kids will wind up living with him but I read today that his wife hasn’t lived with him for the last decade.

    It would be really sad if a judge awarded custody to Debbie Rowe though. Because she’s already sold her kids for a heap of cash, it’s inevitable that she’s going to try to get more.

    • Lin says:

      Hi Cath,

      I appreciate very much your leaving a comment here on the site, as opposed to Facebook (or Friendfeed) or even Twitter. I personally don’t believe in the old wives tale of deaths in threes, but I think it’s all just very strange, tragic coincidence. If I were to apply the same methods of determining deaths occurring so close together, I’d have to say that deaths happen in fours or fives, instead of threes.

      I’ve read all over the net about people speculating about deaths in threes ever since Michael Jackson died, and the results showed an incredible lack of real evidence, but tons of speculation. I’ve even read some not too nice posts about “say a prayer for Patrick Swayze” just in case deaths occur in threes.

      I can’t really say that I’m “worried” per se – but I do have concerns for a couple of relatives in general – but not overly concerned or stressed.

      I watched Jermaine Jackson’s extended interview with Matt Lauer a little while ago, where Jermaine said Michael’s will was “a good will”. Jermaine didn’t say it was a “pretty good” will or anything similar – he said it was a Good Will. Including the fact that Michael Jackson cut Joe Jackson out of the will, and that should say a lot for people who wondered or speculated about the relationship between Michael and his father.

      Ultimately, I don’t believe that Debbie Rowe will end up with the kids. If there is a court custody battle over the kids, the court/judge will do whatever is in the best interests of the children, not some whiny, money grubbing chick who hasn’t had a mother/child relationship with those children from day one. I’ve known for awhile now that Katherine Jackson and Joe Jackson were living apart – Joe lives primarily in Las Vegas, so I don’t have any fears for Michael’s children’s physical safety.

  2. Matt says:

    I heard about Joe Jackson promoting some business venture while speaking about his son’s death. But I couldn’t believe that any father could be so callous, so I thought the report must have been inaccurate. But clearly it was true!

    He clearly saw Michael Jackson as a commodity that he was determined to exploit right from the beginning. And he still has that attitude even after the poor guy has died. No wonder Michael Jackson was so neurotic and eccentric, and ultimately physically fragile.

    • Lin says:

      Hi Matt, when I saw Joe Jackson promoting a record company when being interviewed about Michael’s death, it just broke my heart for Michael and his entire family. I’ve read over the years about the estranged relationships amongst the Jackson family, and it doesn’t surprise me one bit. Like millions of other Michael Jackson fans, I basically grew up with him, with Michael only being about two years older than me and watching the Jackson Five as a child and following the careers of Michael and Janet, his death cuts me to the core. So very very sad.