Elizabeth Taylor Outlives Her NYT Obituary Writer Mel Gussow
Elizabeth Taylor, who died Wednesday at 79, not only rose to the heights of stardom during her legendary life, she also accomplished something rare even for susperstars: she outlived one of her obituary writers.
In this case, the writer was former New York Times journalist Mel Gussow. It is common practice for news organizations to write obituaries of notable figures before they have actually died. What is not as common is for the obituary writer to die before the obituary is published. But Gussow died in 2005, forcing the Times to attach a note to his obituary: "Mel Gussow, the principal writer of this article, died in 2005. William McDonald and the Associated Press contributed updated reporting."
This is not the first time that a Hollywood legend outlived a New York Times obituary writer. In 2003, Bob Hope died at 100. His obituary writer, former Times film critic Vincent Canby, had died in 2000.