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  Search Dead or Alive? Search Submit a comment to the site Comment Suggest a name to add to the site New Name Find out how the site works Instructions Find out if famous people are Dead or Alive? Home

Instructions for
Dead or Alive?
Like Curly says in the movie City Slickers, the secret of life is one thing. For this website, the one thing is keeping track of whether famous people are dead or alive. The site contains a lot of other information, but that's the one thing and everything is built around that. The site lists people who have died "recently" or might plausibly be dead. For the purposes of this website, "recently" is liberally interpreted as the last few decades, going back to an absolute cut-off date of no more than 50 years ago. The farther back a person died the more famous they have to be to make the list. For living people, "might plausibly be dead" means that they have reached a certain age or, in some limited cases, been out of the limelight so long that a reasonable person might wonder if they had passed away. That is why the site doesn't list young, healthy people (for the most part) nor people who have been dead so long that the question shouldn't be open to dispute. For a more detailed explanation of the criteria used, see the Criteria for Inclusion section below.
You can scroll through the entire Instructions page or jump directly to different sections using these links:

Finding a Name
Criteria for Inclusion
Additions and Modifications

Here's a little more info about what the site is, and is not:  More Info

Here's the beginning of a F.A.Q. page for the site:  F.A.Q.

And here's a response to a visitor comment regarding the nature of the biographical information included in the entries: Response


There are a number of symbols that are used throughout this website:

Dead iconindicates the person is dead
Alive iconindicates the person is alive
Missing iconindicates the person is missing
Unknown iconindicates that the status of the person is unknown

Finding a Name

There are several ways to look for a particular name -- or just browse to see if you find anything interesting.


Probably the easiest way to find someone is to use the Search function. To start, click on the Search button that's near the top of every page. When the form comes up, type the person's name in the box and click Search. If an exact match is found, the profile for that person will be displayed. If no exact match is found then a listing of partial matches will appear. Click on any of those names in order to see their profile. Besides searching for entire names, you can also search for last names, first names or other information included in that person's profile. For instance, searching for "James Bond" will bring up everyone with a James Bond reference in their Info section.

Look by Last Name

Click on the first letter of the person's last name in the navigation bar to the left. That will bring up a list of everyone in the database whose last name starts with that letter. Locate the name of the person for who you are searching. Use the page links to navigate to other pages to find names not on the current screen. Click on the name of the individual to bring up their particular profile and see more information about them.

Look by Field

Click on the By Field link in the left column to go to the By Field screen. There you will find a list of fields in which people have gained fame. Click on the small blue triangles next to the field that best matches that person. It will expand to show the people famous in that field (it's always expanded in Microsoft Edge). Locate the name of the person for whom you are searching. Click on the name of the individual to bring up their particular profile and see more information about them.

Search By Date

You can also use the Search By Date feature to look for people who were born or died on specific dates or sets of dates. To reach the Search By Date page click on the Search button that's near the top of every page to bring up the main Search page. At the top of that page click on the Search By Date link. Fill in any or all of the boxes to search for specific dates or date ranges. You can find everyone born on a specific date, everyone who died in a certain year, or everyone who died in a certain month of a certain year, for instance. Click on the name of the individual to bring up their particular profile and see more information about them.

Combined Search

The Combined Search combines aspects of the standard Search and the Search By Date features. For instance, you could search for everyone named John who died in 2002. To reach the Combined Search page first bring up the main Search page by clicking on the Search button that's near the top of every page on the site. At the top of that page click on the Combined Search link. Read the instructions there to learn how to construct a search using the many options available on the Combined Search page.


Also try clicking on the icons in the upper left corner.

Special Categories

There are also a number of links to specialized categories - such as who has a birthday today, who died before the age of 30, etc. Those links are in the navigator on the left.

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Criteria for Inclusion

There are two basic criteria for including people on the website. First, they have to be famous for something. Second, if they are still alive, they have to have reached the age of 50 or, if they are already dead, they have to have died in the last 50 years, and the more recently, the better. The farther back in time the death occurred the more famous the person needs to be to be included here.

This website was created and developed in the US and focuses particularly on people known in this country. Many of those people are Americans, but also included are people from countries around the world. Decisions on who to include are made on a case by case basis, but the person needs to be known in the US in some capacity. If you are interested in starting a similar website for the country you live in you are encouraged to do so. Get in touch through the Comment form if you want to share ideas.

The goal is not just to have a list of movie stars, but to have reasonably famous people from as many walks of life as possible. The definition of "reasonably famous" is subjective, of course. Names that have wide recognition by average people are favored over names famous within a narrow discipline or specialized field. Of course, in many cases that means that people who have accomplished "important" things are less likely to be included than people who are famous for more superficial reasons -- but that's life. In any event, the final decision on including a name is at the discretion of the editors of this website.

A note on names: The purpose of this site is to help people quickly determine who might be dead and who might be alive. In that spirit, people are listed under the name they are most commonly known by or under which they gained fame. That name is not always their real name or their formal name. For instance, middle names are omitted unless they are commonly used when referring to that person. Likewise, for example, Pope John Paul II is listed under John Paul and not his original name, Karol Wojtyla. If you can't find the person you are looking for under a particular name, try using the Search function. It checks in the Info section of the profiles, too, and might locate that name there in a secondary reference.

Important notice - If you submit a name that is already in the database you are just wasting your time. Please save yourself the trouble and confirm that your suggestion is not already included. A simple click on the Search button at the top will allow you to check whether that is the case.

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There are a few links just for fun, too. One will take you to the Random Name page that will pull a name at random out of all the names in the database. You never know who's going to come up. Click the button again and see another name.

Another link will take you to the Dead or Alive? quiz page. There you will find quizzes in several different subject areas. Each quiz will give you the names of ten people and you have to decide if they are dead or alive. When you finish, submit the quiz and it will give you your score in a few seconds. Don't know who someone is? Just click their name on the score sheet and it will take you directly to their profile where you can find out more about them. (The game pulls names at random so sometimes it's pretty tough.)

A different link will take you to the Put 'em In Order quiz page. In the Put 'em In Order quizzes you will be given four names that have something in common, which you'll need to put in order. For the By Birth quiz you need to put them in order according to the date they were born. For the By Death quiz you need to put them in order according to the date they died. For the By Age quiz you need to put them in order by age, either their current age or the age they died.

The Guess the Age quiz gives you a series of 10 names and your job is to guess their current ages. If you come within three years, you get credit. See how close you can get to 10 points. The quiz can be quite challenging and sometimes a 5 out of 10 is a very good score. These quizzes are randomly generated so there is a different quiz as often as you want to play.

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The goal for this site, of course, is to have all the information contained within be 100% accurate and up-to-date. However, by the nature of any enterprise this big, some inaccuracies are bound to slip through. In addition, there is real disagreement in public sources about certain pieces of information regarding the names herein, especially exact dates of birth and causes of death. The best information that can be obtained is included. If you can provide updated or more accurate information, see the next section.

In the upper right corner of each Profile page is the date of the last update for that individual record. It lets you see exactly when the information for that person was last changed or reviewed. This is especially critical when looking up someone who might have died recently. If they are still listed as alive you will know exactly how recently that was the case.

Note: This website operates on US Eastern Time. The birthday list and other aspects of the site reflect this. Also, dates are in the format commonly used in the US. Thus, April 7, 2000 is represented by 4/7/2000 or 04/07/2000.

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Additions and Modifications

Additional names continue to be added to the database.

If you have a name to suggest, click on the button at the top of the page and fill in the form. Please include as much information as possible in order to facilitate their inclusion in the database. Remember, the person needs to be famous to be included.

To make a comment or suggestion, click on the button at the top of the page and fill in the form. Also, if you find an error or something else that doesn't seem quite right, please submit that using this form, as well.

All submissions are appreciated.

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The site has a very simple privacy policy. All correspondence with the site, including names and email addresses, is used solely for the purpose of maintaining and improving the site. No other use is authorized.

Click to see the site's complete Privacy Policy.

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