MEDIA
04/14/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Damn Dirty NYT! Got Heston's Age Wrong, Ruined My Pun

Update, April 7, 2007: This post has been corrected to reflect the fact that the New York Times, not the AP, goofed on Charlton Heston's age — the AP reported it as 84 and the NYT reported it as 83. So did IMDb. Since the NYT obit came out after the AP version, and since the IMDb version said 83, and since the NYT's AP version disappeared from the homepage in short order, I cast my vote with the Paper of Record on this one and cruelly castigated the AP for their "error," as well as finger-pointing at all the news orgs that had unwittingly picked up the "mistake." Then I chortled over my pun. Then I saw that today, the NYT had issued a correction. Then I bonked my head against a wall. Then I updated this item. There, now you're caught up.

Here's the original version, from yesterday:

Legendary film actor and NRA spokesman Charlton Heston died last night at age 84. Or was it 83? Reports today differ — the Associated Press says 84, but the New York Times says 83 (though it actually says both on its homepage right now — courtesy of both reports — as you can see below). So who's right? ETP went to the arbiter of all things filmic, the Internet Movie Database, better known as IMDb (in fact, so well known as IMDb that it's become a verb a la Google, i..e. to "IMDb" someone is to look up their entry on IMDb). According to IMDb, the New York Times is right and the AP is wrong: Charlton Heston was born on October 4, 1924 — which would make him 84 on his next birthday, which sadly he did not reach. (Update: As stated above, it's the IMDB that is incorrect; Heston was, in fact, born in 1923.)

Note, though, that in its news alert sent out last night at 12:12 a.m. ET, the New York Times cited the AP report and listed Heston's age as 84; on this morning's edition of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," the show was nimble enough to include Heston in its "In Memoriam" segment but alas, not quick enough to fact-check the AP. (Update: Except that it didn't need to. Sorry, George!)

Update: The AP has since switched the age from 84 to 83. Update to the update: Actually, that was the HuffPo link swapping out the AP link for the NYT link. The AP never changed its version. I failed to notice the source swap.

Update: ...but not before CNN was fooled, too, reporting Heston dead at 84 this morning at 9:00 a.m. and again as late as 6:00 p.m. MSNBC, too, picked up the AP story, doing the math backwards and listing Heston's year of birth as 1923. (Update to the update: Er, good work on that, cablers!)

In other news, we are remain inordinately proud of our "damn dirty AP" joke. Though it is no longer all that relevant. Either way, if you don't get it, see here.

Irony alert: I actually checked Heston's Wikipedia entry yesterday, too, and saw that the year of birth was "wrong," i.e. 1923. And in my head, I scoffed at silly little Wikipedia. A little more respect for the wisdom of crowds next time!

See screengrab of the NYT homepage Sunday morning below:




Right:
Charlton Heston, Epic Film Star and Voice of N.R.A., Dies at 83 [NYT]
Charlton Heston [IMDb]

Wrong:
Charlton Heston, Dead At 84
[AP]