Even in death, Bob Hope generates laughs

I had no idea a writer for the NY Post could be this hilarious:

July 29, 2003 — Dead men tell no tales – except at the New York Times.

The obituary of comedian Bob Hope, who died Sunday, carried the byline of Vincent Canby – a Times writer who has been dead himself since 2000.

If there are any mistakes, obviously don’t call the writer.

In fairness, the Times Web site, which posted the story last night, did say that the writer had died in 2000.

Was it a post mortem obit? If not, was Canby able to collect a kill fee before he left?

Joe Lelyveld, the Times interim executive editor – who passes the baton to William Keller tomorrow – said it is not the first time that a writer has “predeceased the subject.”

We all want to give our colleagues – and fellow working stiffs – their due, but isn’t the practice a little unusual?

Usually when an editor sends someone to the morgue, he means the area where long-ago clippings are stored. “He wrote the piece and we don’t take his name off it,” said Lelyveld. “Notice our dead reporter did not report that Bob Hope had died Sunday.”

“He wrote the piece a few years ago,” said Lelyveld, “and not much has happened in Bob Hope’s life since.”

That ends that mystery. At least he didn’t bury the lead.

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