The Celebrity Big Brother house descended into chaos after a contestant thought the "David" who had died was fellow housemate David Gest - rather than David Bowie.
Angie Bowie, ex-wife to the late musician who died on Sunday after an 18-month battle with cancer, was told the news off-screen.
Reacting in the diary room, she said: "I'm fine. I think I'll be better if I can cry, but I can't cry at the moment. I haven't seen him for so many years, I can't make a big drama out of it. I just feel like an era has ended with his passing. I'm so very sad ... now I'm crying."
She added: " Stardust is gone".
Initially she decided to keep the news quiet, telling Gest and John Partridge who had been sent to comfort her in the diary room: "Maybe we should do that, then we wouldn't have to hear all the stupidity."
But after returning to the kitchen, she confided in Tiffany Pollard: "Tiff, you've got to do me a favour. You can't say a word. David's dead."
The US reality star began screaming and asked her if she was joking.
Bowie responded: "I would never joke. Are you crazy, would I do something like that to you?"
As Pollard's hysterics escalated, Bowie commented: "Oh God, this is not going well. Big Brother, I'm in trouble."
Pollard ran outside to tell her fellow housemates, who were stunned and upset - but when they went to check on Gest he was very much alive.
"She told me that David died," Pollard ranted. "Why the f*** would she do that? She just told me that you were dead. That is so f***ing - ! Why the f*** would she do that to me?"
Danniella Westbrook went to tell Bowie that US producer Gest was actually asleep - and had not died of cancer - after which Bowie clarified: " Not that David! My ex-husband."
As Pollard remained furious at having supposedly been misled, her fellow housemates turned against her and rallied around Bowie.
But later, she apologised, saying: "I'm very sorry for your loss, I really am."
Angie and David Bowie divorced in 1980 after a decade of marriage. They had one son, Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones.