The Philip Seymour Hoffman hoax - a story apparently duping internet users into thinking the Oscar winning actor had died just 24 hours before he was actually found dead - never really existed in the first place. Various news agencies had reported on the hoax as a strange coincidence, though, as David Emery points out, it was the work of website Media Mass - a self-proclaimed satire website that pokes fun at celebrity rags and mocks up "death hoax" magazine covers on a regular basis.

Philip Seymour HoffmanPhilip Seymour Hoffman Was One Of The Greatest Actors of His Generation

Hoffman was found dead on Sunday morning in his New York apartment after a suspected drug overdose. He was 46.

In a statement, Hoffman's family said: "We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone. This is a tragic and sudden loss and we ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers."

Hoffman - one of America's best loved movie stars- won the Academy Award for best actor in 2005 for his leading role in Capote, about the life of novelist Truman Capote. He was often considered one of the greatest actors of his generation, rivalled perhaps only by Daniel Day-Lewis (who has made nowhere near as many movies as the New Yorker).

The news of Hoffman's death sent shockwaves through both Los Angeles and New York on Sunday evening, with comedian Ellen DeGeneres tweeting: "Philip Seymour Hoffman was a brilliant, talented man. The news this morning is shocking and sad. My heart goes out to his loved ones."

New York mayor Bill de Blasio said on the micro-blogging site: "Saddened by Philip Seymour Hoffman's tragic and untimely passing . Today New York mourns the loss of one of stage and screen's greats."

Philip Seymour HoffmanPhilip Seymour Hoffman Died In His New York Apartment

The exact circumstances surrounding Hoffman's death are as yet unknown. He was last seen publically 10 days ago at the Sundance film festival in Utah where he was doing press for his forthcoming movie, God's Pocket.

Hoffman had been open about suffering from drug and alcohol addiction since his early theatre days in the late 1980s. He had been clean for 23 years though is thought to have suffered a relapse last year. In a 2011 interview with the Guardian, the actor expressed his fear that he might one day return to drinking and using drugs.

"I know, deep down, I still look at the idea of drinking with the same ferocity that I did back then. It's still pretty tangible." Of his younger days, Hoffman said: "I had no interest in drinking in moderation. And I still don't. Just because all that time's passed doesn't mean maybe it was just a phase."

He is survived by his three children and their mother, Mimi O'Donnell.