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

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