57 Mysterious Celebrity Disappearances That Can't Be Explained

By Jack Ripley | March 15, 2024

Edgar Allan Poe

test article image
(Smithsonian)

It's pretty fitting that Edgar Allan Poe, the king of gothic literature, be involved in a mysterious disappearance, right? Unfortunately, this one seems to have led to his death. In September of 1849, Poe left Richmond, VA, heading to Philadelphia, PA, for an editing job - but never arrived. He was found six days later in Baltimore, MD, in clothes that weren't his and completely delirious. He was then taken to the local hospital, where he died less than a week later, without ever being able to shed light on those missing days. 

Although we'll never know for sure what Poe got up to that autumn week, there are a couple of prevailing theories. One is that Poe, a self-documented alcoholic, went on a binge and succumbed to alcohol poisoning. Another is that he was the victim of foul play, or perhaps cooping - being abducted, plied with drugs and alcohol, and made to vote several times in different disguises, which would explain his strange attire. Others have posited brain tumors or even rabies as theories, but alas, there is so little to go on. 

Andy Kaufman

test article image
(The Hollywood Reporter)

This one's a little different. Andy Kaufman, renowned comedian, died in 1984 at age 35. The cause of death was lung cancer, and his official death certificate confirming his death and burial was released. Yet many of those closest to him refused to believe he was dead. Kaufman was known for his pranks, and many family and friends - notably his brother - insisted that his death was just one of them, and that Andy was simply in hiding.

Kaufman had apparently talked about elaborately faking his death for years beforehand, so they assumed it was finally happening. In 2014, Bob Zmuda, Andy's long-time friend, and Lynn Marguiles, released a book titled Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally, which asserted that his death was a hoax, and that he would be coming out of hiding imminently as Kaufman had claimed that the time limit on the prank was 30 years. He still has not reappeared.