2002 UPDATE: This ancient (by Internet standards) rumor was jolted back to life by Steve Burns' permanent departure from the Blue's Clues TV show in April 2002. Needless to say — or is it? — it's still not true. Steve Burns is alive and well.
Dear Urban Legends:
I don't have any direct experience with this one, but a coworker mentioned that he was watching The Today Show or Good Morning America or some other breakfast TV show, and heard that there was a rumor going around that Steve Burns (Steve from the Nick Jr. show Blue's Clues) was dead.
Apparently, panicked parents were calling and emailing the producers by the hundreds. The morning TV show had both the producer of Blue's Clues and Steve himself as guests to debunk the rumor. True?
Nothing puts a crimp in your day like finding out you're dead, but Steve Burns is used to it. In countless newspaper interviews and TV appearances since 1999, he's had to deny kicking the bucket. For some reason the public just won't buy it. People seem to want to believe Steve Burns is dead.
The claim that he succumbed to a heroin overdose first popped up on the Internet in 1998, according to a message from the producers of Blue's Clues, the kids' TV show that made him famous. No one knows precisely how or why the rumor began, but at one point it was spreading so fast that Burns' own mother heard it from a friend and frantically phoned him to make sure it wasn't true (see details from E! Online).
The whole episode is unsettlingly similar to fellow actor Scott Baio's experience earlier that same year. Baio's parents called him, sobbing, after hearing rumors that he'd perished in a car crash the same day comedian Chris Farley died. Everyone seemed absolutely convinced of Baio's death, except the "deceased" himself.
"After a while," he told New York Times Magazine, "I started answering the phone, 'I'm not dead.'"
If it had been me, I'd have left a chiding message on my answering machine and refused to pick up the phone until the hysteria passed. How many times a day do you want to have to tell people you're not dead? Even one is too many.
Sources and further reading:
New York Times TV Notes, 24 March 1999
Get a 'Clue': Kid Host NOT Dead
E! Online, 3 April 1999
Former 'Blue's Clues' Host Steve Burns: Still Not Dead
MTV News, 2 November 2007
Last updated 02/16/14