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Melissa Kirsch

Melissa Kirsch

Posted: April 22, 2008 10:37 PM

New York Times Correction Tally on Heston Obituary Now Officially Farcical


Okay, far be it from me to obsessively follow the fascinating twists and turns of a dead actor's constantly changing obituary, but come on, New York Times. Now it's just embarrassing.

From today's corrections:

An obituary on April 7 and in some copies on April 6 about the actor Charlton Heston misstated the year he enlisted in the Army Air Forces, as well as other aspects of his life.

1. He enlisted in 1942, not 1944.
2. He served in the Aleutian Islands about two years, not three.
3. And he and his wife, the former Lydia Clarke, an actress, spent less than one year, not several seasons, at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Theater in Asheville, N.C., which they founded after the war.

These three additional corrections (you'll recall there were about five published in the days following his death) wouldn't be as bewildering if not for the original crapped up report. But now, two weeks later, they're issuing more corrections? These tiny details, we can all agree, are not as crucial as when the Times got Heston's name and age wrong, but nonetheless, they leave the paper with even more egg on its face (and its readership even more stymied).

I now imagine the New York Times obituaries are written kind of like Mad-Libs -- you know, you fill in blanks like "Proper Name," "Name of Movie Character," "Number of Years Served in Aleutian Islands," and end up with a mildly entertaining but usually totally unintelligible story.

Previously: New York Times Violates (At Least) Ten Commandments of Journalism in Reporting Charlton Heston's Death

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