January 26, 2022

On Jan. 21, comedian and actor Louie Anderson died.

His longtime publicist, Glenn Schwartz, told reporters that Anderson died due to complications of diffuse large B cell lymphoma, a blood cancer.

But, perhaps predictably, some people online are suggesting that Anderson’s death was connected to a COVID-19 vaccine.

One recent post shows what looks like a screenshot of an Instagram post showing Anderson posing with two flight attendants. He’s wearing a Kirkland Signature sweatshirt, a Minnesota Timberwolves hat and smiling broadly. No one in the photo is wearing a face mask.

“It’s an early morning, but have Louie Anderson on our flt,” the Instagram caption says. “He’s off to do Conan 😎.”

Text that’s being shared alongside this screenshot suggests this picture was taken recently.

“Louie Anderson was a passenger on my cousin’s flight 2 days ago,” it says. “He was an extremely friendly man and spoke with her most of the flight… They talked about his cancer and shared with her how he’s been in remission 5 years now.. half way through the flight he started complaining about his heart.. he was swearing and pale and the staff became very worried.. he received medical treatment shortly after he landed.. he also spoke about the vaccine and how Mr. Anderson received his 3 vaccine a few weeks ago.”

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

We reached out to Schwartz about the post.

“Not true,” he said in an email.

We reviewed photos that Anderson was tagged in on Instagram and couldn’t find the one that appears in the Facebook post. But there are many that show him posing with fans, and some that seem to date the picture in the Facebook post to before the pandemic started.

We found several photos of him wearing a Timberwolves hat that were posted in fall 2017 and winter 2018, and photos of him wearing a Costco Kirkland Signature sweatshirt in 2016 and 2017.

Anderson played Zach Galifianakis’ Costco-loving mother, Christine, in the 2016-19 show “Baskets.” Christine would buy Costco’s Kirkland brand clothing for friends, and in one episode, offered to buy a Kirkland Signature sweatshirt for Galifianakis’ wife. In March 2016, Anderson was photographed wearing a Kirkland Signature sweatshirt to a “Baskets” season finale viewing party.

But let’s consider his recent appearance on the TBS show “Conan,” which ended its run on June 24, 2021.

The Food and Drug Administration didn’t authorize COVID-19 booster shots for immunocompromised people until a couple months later, in August, and they weren’t available more widely until September.

According to IMDB, Anderson last appeared on Conan on March 16, and he did talk about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. But the appearance was remote. While Conan O’Brien was taping in Los Angeles, Anderson was streaming in from Henderson, Nevada.

“You got vaccinated?” O’Brien asks in the episode.

“I did,” Anderson replies. “I just got my second shot and, God, just right after I got it, maybe an hour, I started getting nauseated, I was feeling sick, I called the doctor going, ‘Can it happen that fast?’ and then I went, ‘Oh, wait — I did stop and get White Castle on the way home.’”

He previously appeared in person on O’Brien’s show before the pandemic started in June 2019January 2018August 2017 and February 2017, according to IMDb. If the Instagram caption that appears in the Facebook post is accurate, he would have likely been flying for his guest spot one of those times.

The accompanying text about Anderson receiving a third vaccine dose doesn’t line up with the description in the Instagram caption.

We rate this post False.

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of their fact checks here.

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Ciara O'Rourke is a contributing writer for PolitiFact. Previously, Ciara covered local government and public safety for the Austin American-Statesman and fact-checked elected officials and…
Ciara O'Rourke

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