Monday, May 08, 2006

Greatly Exaggerated Reports of Death

Sometimes obituaries have happy endings—like those in Wikipedia's List of Premature Obituaries. Most seem to fall into one of four categories:

  • Jumping the Gun — As when the aging Bob Hope was reported dead on the Associated Press website in 1998, and then eulogized in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Mixed Up Names — As when actor James Earl Jones was confused with recently deceased assassin James Earl Ray.
  • Hoax — As when Britney Spears was reported dead by two Texas DJs.
  • Technical Mistake — As when the CNN website killed off Fidel Castro, Dick Cheney, Bob Hope, Gerald Ford, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, and Ronald Reagan all on the same day.
The best sport was probably the perennially ancient Abe Vigoda, whose death was reported in People magazine in 1982. Abe "posed for a photograph showing him sitting up in a coffin, holding the magazine in question."

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