Dec 272006
 

Washington Post reporter J.Y. Smith died last January. Despite this little setback, Smith is the co-author of today’s obituary of Gerald Ford.

I wonder how often the subject of an obit outlives the guy who wrote it?

(Via Hit and Run.)

  5 Responses to “Now that’s a productive writer”

  1. He’s the Tupac of journalism.

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  2. I like how someone at Hit and Run called this “Just another in an amusing set of stories resulting from pre-written obituaries.”

    What are the other options? I mean, when you have a figure of great national importance who is Very Old, you *have* to have an obit on file for him; you don’t really want to be writing the thing that day. Also, I read a terrific article in the NYTimes about this that pointed out that when someone has really pretty much finished their public life, the paper figures that they can afford to keep an obit on file, since not much in it is going to change.

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  3. At the paper where I work, we have a selection of pre-written obits for local Important People. They aren’t complete or necessarily up to date, of course, but they’ll save a lot of time when they’re called into service. There was much chuckling when people saw the list.

    The biggest kick I got, though, was a year or so ago when Jerry Falwell was near death, and I walked by the layout folks who were creating the “Jerry Falwell: 1924-2005″ page (or whatever the real years were). I assume the layout was set aside for when God really does recall him.

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  4. Let’s not forget the three-minute Larry “Bud” Melman tribute on Letterman circa 1991, where they end the moving tribute with “Calvert DeForest (Melman’s real name), 1921-1991″.

    And then ten seconds later DeForest appears onstage and says, “I’m not dead, you moron.”

    (and according to wikipedia he’s *still* not dead)

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  5. Vincent Canby wrote the New York Times obituary for Bob Hope in 2003. Canby died in 2000.

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