11 celebrities you probably thought were dead but are actually very much alive

We're all guilty of seeing a famous person on TV or in a movie and exclaimig, 'I thought they were dead'.

As life expectancy rates go up, many celebrities are now living well into their 90s and beyond – although their declining years means they are not in the public eye so often

So when a famous face hasn't appeared in public for a long time, fans can be forgiven they must have died.

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However, just like us, when they get older famous people start to take it easy, work less or retire completely and live out their years in a quiet, sedentary fashion away from the glare of publicity.

And, sadly, some are alive but are just suffering from poor health and unable to be in the public eye.

Here are 11 celebrities you could have sworn had died but are actually still alive.

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter, the former US President is now 97 and, as far as we know, is in good health and going strong.

He was President for just one term between 1977 and 1981 before losing out on serving a second term to Republican Ronald Reagan.

His long life has earned him the title of both the oldest living President and also the longest married, as he's been with his wife Rosallyn and mother of their four children for 76 years.

Famous for being a peanut farmer before turning to politics, Carter is also the only US President to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his humanitarian work.

Jerry Lee Lewis

Now aged 86, veteran American rock star Jerry Lee Lewis is still alive and kicking – despite living a turbulent life.

Famous for his 1950s hits Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On and Great Balls of Fire, Lewis was more often in the headlines for his private life than his music.

Lewis has been married a staggering seven times – including some of them bigamous and also one to his 13-year-old cousin when he was 22. He had six children, but two of them died in tragic circumstances.

Other events which affected the success of his music career were tax evasion charges, legal battles with some of his children and also being arrested with a gun at Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion.

In 2019 Lewis suffered a major stroke at his home in Memphis, which he fully recovered from but has left him a virtual recluse.

Dick Van Dyke

American actor, singer, dancer and comedian Dick Van Dyke is now aged 96 and has been entertaining us for seven decades.

He shot to fame in the UK when he famously played a chimney sweep with a dodgy Cockney accent in Mary Poppins in 1964 and then Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968.

More recently he made appearances in movies including Night at the Museum and its sequel, as well as Mary Poppins Returns in 2018.

The fact he is still alive at 96 is remarkable, given in the past he's been an alcoholic and is also a lifelong smoker. He also cheated death in 2013 when his car caught fire whilst driving it on a Californian freeway.

Angela Lansbury

Most famous for appearing in Murder, She Wrote, Angela Lansbury is now 93 and was given a Damehood in 2014.

Born in London, she has dual British and American citizenship and her career has spanned over 80 years in the theatre, film and TV.

But it is her role as fictional writer and sleuth Jessica Fletcher in the long-running detective series Murder, She Wrote which propelled her to fame in Britain.

Her most recent performances have been appearances in the films Nanny McPhee in 2005 and Mary Poppins Returns in 2018.

Sir David Attenborough

Despite regularly being on our TV screens talking about the environment and saving the planet, a surprising number of people think Sir David Attenborough is dead.

That could be because they get the 96-year-old broadcaster mixed up with his equally famous brother Lord Richard Attenborough, who died in 2014.

But Sir David is still alive and as busy as ever, with his wildlife and environment programmes and campaigning.

Sir Bobby Charlton

After England's women's footballers won the 2022 Euros this week, we were reminded that the last time England won a major tournament was the World Cup in 1966.

Now aged 84, Sir Bobby Charlton was a member of that squad and is one of only of its three players who are still alive. The others are Sir Geoff Hurst, who is 80, and George Cohen, 82.

In November 2020, it was revealed that Sir Bobby had been diagnosed with dementia.

Leslie Phillips

Actor Leslie Phillips is best known for his "ding dong" and "he-llo…" phrases, which are still used today.

Now aged 98, he appeared in the Carry On and Doctor in the House film series, as well as providing the voice for the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter films.

In 2013 he got married to his third wife – he was 89 and she was 50.

Prunella Scales

Actress Prunella Scales who played Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers is now aged 90.

Up until a few years ago she was still on our TV screens in Tesco adverts and with her husband Timothy West in Great Canal Journeys.

Sadly, she had to stop filming the series and give up all of her TV work in 2020 after her Alzheimer's disease got worse.

Bill Treacher

One of the original cast of EastEnders, now aged 92, Bill Treacher played Arthur Fowler for 11 years.

But in 1996 he asked to be written out of the soap, saying "even the sound of the theme music made me feel ill and depressed".

He also revealed that the long hours and stress of the role was affecting his health to that point where doctors told him that if he did not leave the job soon and relax it would kill him.

He is now in poor health, relying on a wheelchair, and said he no longer watches EastEnders, calling it "a load of old rubbish".


Regarded by many as the greatest footballer in the world, the Brazillian legend Pele is now aged 81.

During his playing career he notched up many records, including the Guinness World Record for scoring the most goals – 1,279. He is also the only player to have won three World Cups.

His health has been deteriorating in recent years and in September 2021 he was diagnosed with colon cancer and is currently undergoing treatment for the disease.

Marianne Faithfull

Although she is regarded one of the greatest women in the world of rock and roll, Marianne Faithfull is best known for being Mick Jagger's girlfriend and for performing an alleged sex act with a Mars Bar.

Now aged 75, Marianne enjoyed fame in the 1960s as an actress and singer.

But it was her turbulent relationship with Rolling Stone Mick Jagger that propelled her into the public eye – particularly a story about the couple using a Mars Bar as a sex toy during a raucous party – something the couple have denied.

She has a long history of alcohol and drug abuse and other health issues, including breast cancer and being hospitalised with Covid.


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