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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke January 25, 2022

Social media claims about Louie Anderson’s in-flight sickness after a COVID-19 booster aren’t true

If Your Time is short

  • Louie Anderson’s publicist told PolitiFact that claims the actor and comedian became sick on a flight to appear on Conan O’Brien’s show a few weeks after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine dose aren’t true, and the timeline doesn’t match up. 

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. 

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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 2019, January 2018, August 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.


Our Sources

Facebook post, Jan. 22, 2022

Louie Anderson tagged Instagram photos, visited Jan. 24, 2022

Getty Images, Baskets Stars Louis Anderson & Martha Kelly Host Viewing Party For Season Finale, March 24, 2016


Los Angeles Times, ‘Baskets’ star Louie Anderson says ‘Hey Mom’ a lot. Now go call yours, March 23, 2018

NPR, After 28 Quirky Years, Conan O'Brien Is Leaving Late Night, June 24, 2021

IMDB, Louie Anderson, visited Jan. 24, 2022

Team Coco Facebook post, March 17, 2021

Vulture, Baskets Recap: Frontier Justice, March 3, 2016

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA Authorizes Booster Dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Certain Populations, Sept. 22, 2021

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes Additional Vaccine Dose for Certain Immunocompromised Individuals, Aug. 12, 2021

New York Times, Louie Anderson, Genial Stand-Up Comic and Actor, Dies at 68, Jan. 21, 2022

Email interview with Glenn Schwartz, Louie Anderson’s publicist, Jan. 24, 2022

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Social media claims about Louie Anderson’s in-flight sickness after a COVID-19 booster aren’t true

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