Wednesday, November 07, 2007

13 Premature Obituaries

What would you do if you read your own obituary? What would you do if you heard an announcement regarding your demise on the radio or television?

Here are 13 folks who have the distinction of finding out they were dead….

1. When Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, learned he would be called “the merchant of death” in his obituary it is said he created the Nobel Prize in order to redeem himself.

2. Pope Benedict XV was expected to die in January, 1922 when it was reported he had pneumonia. A New York paper ran the headline “Pope Benedict XV is dead”, however they ran it a little too early and then had to retract the headline by printing another paper with the claim “Pope has remarkable recovery”. By the end of the month Pope Benedict finally met his maker.

3. White House Press Secretary, James Brady, was reported dead by all three major networks in the chaos that ensued following the assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan. While his injuries were severe Mr. Brady was very much alive.

4. During an event dubbed “The Incident” Fidel Castro’s obituary along with others was prematurely placed online where the public could access it. The obituaries were sketched out templates that could be accessed in a hurry by CNN staff upon receiving word a famous person had passed away. Apparently Reagan’s obituary was used as Castro’s template because the text described Castro as a lifeguard, athelete, and movie star!

5. The writer, Robert Graves, was close to death following the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He recovered enough to enjoy reading his obituary in the New York Times.

6. Ernest Hemmingway was declared dead after being involved in an African plane crash along with his wife in 1954. They both were very much alive.

7. In 1897, Mark Twain was visited by a journalist who wanted to find out how Twain was. The journalist had heard Twain was close to death. The news reports had mixed Twain up with his cousin. An obituary was not published, but in an article published June 2, 1897 Twain stated, “The report of my death is an exaggeration.” In May, 1907 Twain was reported missing when a yacht he was on was held up by fog. Twain wrote an account of the incident in the New York Times the following day.

8. Rudyard Kipling read his obituary in a magazine. The story goes he wrote the magazine and stated, “I’ve just read I’m dead. Please delete me from your subscription list.”

9. James Earl Jones was declared dead in 1998 during a Pittsburgh Pirates game. The announcer confused Mr. Jones with James Earl Ray (the man convicted of assassinating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.). The announcer quickly corrected his error.

10. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. was shocked to learn his obituary had been published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on November 29, 2005. On December 2nd the paper retracted the obituary by printing, “We are embarrassed, but happy for Mr. Schlesinger.”

11. During 1971 Katie Webb was a journalist in Cambodia when she was captured by North Vietnamese troops. Her cremated remains were returned to Reuters and her obituary was published. Later Ms. Webb was found very much alive.

12. James McNeill Whistler read his own obituary in a Dutch newspaper. In reply he wrote the paper that reading his own obituary gave him the “tender glow of health.”

13. Serbian, Vuk Peric, placed his own obituary in a local paper in 1997. He simply wanted to see who would show up to his funeral. He watched the proceedings for awhile and then proceeded to tell everyone.

Read other 13s here


Serina Hope said...

These are very cool. Great list!

SandyCarlson said...

The Castro faux pas cracked me up! I used to work for a paper that kept obits handy in case of the fateful moment. We had to write them whenever there wasn't much news around. Pick a famous person who might die, and write a synopsis of her or her life! What a career path!

I wonder if Hemingway was amused? I hope so....

Thanks for some great info.

Anonymous said...

I knew about the Mark Twain incident, but the rest of those are new to me. Very amusing!

Alasandra, The Cats and Dogs said...

Thanks for an interesting TT. My TT about topaz is up.

Anonymous said...

And how about Thomas Jefferson and Adams dying on the same day and speaking of each other.

Anonymous said...

woah how weird would that be??

SJ Reidhead said...

Mark Twain's comment is one of my favorites.

The Pink Flamingo

Denise Patrick said...

Great stories. I have to admit, part of me would love to do what #13 did. I'd love to see what happens.

Happy TT!

Holly said...

The stories of my demise are greatly exaggerated...

It would be a bit freaky though wouldn't it to read your obit?


Joyismygoal said...

That was interesting and way different I think it would make me cry

Bloggers said...

What an awesome TT.

EHT said...

Thanks for all of the comments. It was a fun list to put together. :)