List of premature obituaries


List of premature obituaries

A premature obituary is an obituary published whose subject is not actually deceased. Such situations have various causes, such as hoaxes or mix-ups over names, and usually produce great embarrassment or sometimes more dramatic consequences. Examples range from arms manufacturer Alfred Nobel, whose premature obituary condemning him as a 'merchant of death' may have caused him to create the Nobel Prize [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,998209,00.html Golden, F.: "The worst and the brightest"] , "TIME" magazine, October 16, 2000.] , to black nationalist Marcus Garvey, whose actual death was apparently caused by reading his own obituary. [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/garvey/filmmore/pt.html "Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind"] , PBS documentary (transcript).]

This article lists the recipients of incorrect death reports (not just formal obituaries) from publications, media organisations, official bodies, and widely-used information sources such as Internet Movie Database; but not mere rumours of deaths. People who were presumed (though not categorically declared) to be dead, and joke death reports that were widely believed, are also included.

Causes

Each premature obituary listed below has one of the following causes (where the cause is known):
* Brush with death: when the subject unexpectedly survives a serious illness or accident which made them appear to be dead or certain to die.
* Name confusion: where someone with an identical or similar name has died. Usually the subject of the obituary is famous, and the real victim is not.
* Prank: though the prankster is usually unknown, it is often either a radio DJ (who is typically fired as a result), or the subject of the obituary himself.
* Pseudocide: when the subject fakes his own death in order to evade legal, financial or marital difficulties and start a new life. This usually involves a fake drowning, as it provides a plausible reason why no body was found.
* Pressing the wrong button: accidental release of a pre-written obituary, usually on a news web site, as a result of technical or human error. The most egregious example was when, in 2003, CNN accidentally released draft obituaries for no fewer than seven major world figures.
* Impostor: when an ordinary person who for years has passed himself off to family and friends as a retired minor celebrity dies, it can prompt an erroneous obituary for the real (but still-living) celebrity.
* Missing in action: soldiers who go missing in war are sometimes incorrectly declared dead if no body is found. In particular, a number of Japanese soldiers thought to have died in World War II in fact survived - typically hiding in remote jungle for years or even decades, believing that the war had not ended.
* Misidentified body: when a corpse (often from a road crash) is misidentified as someone else who was involved in the same incident or who happened to go missing at the same time.
* Land theft victims: many people from Uttar Pradesh, India have been registered dead by officials who are bribed by relatives who want to steal the victim's land. The ensuing legal disputes often continue for many years, with victims growing elderly and sometimes dying in reality before they are resolved. (See Association of the Dead).
* Misunderstandings: such as when a Sky News employee thought that an internal rehearsal for the future death of the Queen Mother was real.

Multiple recipients

Celebrities sometimes receive obituaries from more than one media outlet arising from the same error. On two separate occasions pre-written obituaries of entertainer Bob Hope were accidentally released on news web sites. Pope John Paul II is the only known recipient of three separate death reports.

Though writer Mark Twain was twice feared dead by newspapers, on only one of these occasions did they report that he might be dead.

There are unverified reports that actor Abe Vigoda received a second premature obituary (when he was referred to as 'the late Abe Vigoda' on television); he says there was a widespread belief throughout the 1980s that he was dead, which cost him work.

Humphrey the Downing Street cat was twice feared dead by politicians and the media: once when he went missing for three months, and a second time following allegations that he had been killed by Cherie Blair.

Cricketer Frederick Fane and his father each independently received a premature obituary.

A

* ABBA: Members of the pop group were declared dead by a German Newspaper in 1976. It was claimed they had been killed in an aeroplane crash, with only member Anni-Frid Lyngstad surviving, but badly disfigured. [ [http://www.abbaannual.com/1976.htm/ Abbaannual.com | Death rumour, May 19 1976] ] The group appeared on German television to disprove the rumour.
* Alan Abel (prankster and musician), who staged his own death in a skiing accident as an elaborate hoax in 1980 to get his obituary published in the "The New York Times". [cite news | title = Alan Abel, Satirist Created Campaign To Clothe Animals | url = http://www.alanabel.com/obituary.php | work = The New York Times | publisher = Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. | date = 1980-01-02 | accessdate = 2007-03-03 | language = English ]
* Jonathan Agnew: in January 2007, this alumnus of Cambridge University heard that his death had recently been reported in the "Trinity Record" (presumably a newsletter of Trinity College, Cambridge). He contacted the "Record" saying he had apparently also been removed from its mailing list, and requested a copy of the obituary so he could check and if necessary correct it. [ [http://www.phil.cam.ac.uk/news_events/newsletters/Newsletter07.pdf "Exaggerated reports of my death"] , "Philosophy at Cambridge" newsletter, May 2007.]
* Ali Hassan al-Majid ('Chemical Ali'): in April 2003, obituaries of the Iraqi general and politician were published in many newspapers after British and US officials reported that he had died in an air strike in Basra. He had been seen going into the building that was attacked, and corpses of his bodyguards were positively identified, though there was less certainty about the identity of al-Majid's supposed corpse. Reports then circulated that he had escaped by boat, and subsequently been seen joking with staff in a hospital in Baghdad. Al-Majid was captured several months later, and sentenced to death in 2007 for war crimes. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/08/22/wirq122.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/08/22/ixnewstop.html Gedye, R.: "'Chemical Ali' outlived death reports"] , "The Telegraph", August 21, 2003.]
* Anthony John Allen, a serial criminal, faked his own suicide by drowning off Beachy Head (Britain's most notorious suicide spot) in 1966 to escape prosecution for theft, presumably resulting in his being declared dead. In fact he swam around the coast, retrieved dry clothes that he had hidden, and took up a new identity. However, his crimes continued, including further thefts and bigamy. In 2002 he was jailed for life for having murdered his wife and children in 1975. [cite news | first = Jason | last = Bennetto | authorlink = Jason Bennetto | title = Bigamist sentenced to life for murdering wife and children who disappeared 27 years ago | url = http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/article136339.ece | work = The Independent | publisher = Independent News and Media Limited | date = 2002-12-17 | accessdate = 2007-03-03 | language = English ]
* Nancy Allen: the "Carrie" and "RoboCop" actress was reported on Internet Movie Database to have died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Florida on October 12, 2006. Allen herself refuted the claim. [ [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000262/board/thread/56158745 IMDB Nancy Allen board] discussion of the erroneous death date.]
* Rex Alston (sports commentator, journalist and sportsman): when "The Times" updated its internal obituary file for him in 1985, it was accidentally published as an obituary. Alston remarried the following year (aged 85), thus having the unusual distinction of having his marriage announced in "The Times" after his obituary. He lived until 1994. [Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, 1995 edition, page 1378. ]

B

* William Baer, a New York University professor, whose obituary was published in the "New York Times" in 1942 as a result of a hoax by his students. ["New York Times", May 9, 1942, cited by [http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/day/05_09_2001.html Museum of Hoaxes web site] ]
* Luca Barbareschi was one of four actors who the Italian police believed had been murdered in the making of the 1980 horror film "Cannibal Holocaust". So realistic was the film that shortly after it was released its director Ruggero Deodato was arrested for murder. The actors had signed contracts to stay out of the media for a year in order to fuel rumours that the film was a snuff movie. The court was only convinced that they were alive when the contracts were cancelled and the actors appeared on a television show as proof.Ruggero Deodato (interviewee), "In the Jungle: The Making of Cannibal Holocaust", Alan Young Pictures, Italy, 2003.] Ruggero Deodato, interview with Sage Stallone and Bob Murawski, "Cult-Con 2000", Cannibal Holocaust DVD Commentary, Tarrytown, New York, 2000.]
* Edward Bartlett (cricketer) was reported in "Wisden Cricketers' Almanack" 1934 edition to have died "about February" the previous year. In fact, he lived until December 21, 1976. ["Wisden Cricketers' Almanack" 1934, Part I, Deaths in 1933, page 259. ]
* John Basedow: the fitness instructor was reported by PRWeb to be missing in Thailand following the December 2004 tsunami, and 'feared deceased'. This was later retracted, and Basedow denied even being in Thailand at the time. [ [http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/WolfFiles/story?id=1805147&page=3 Wolf, B.: "Will Ferrell Lives: Dead Wrong Death Rumors"] , ABC News web site, March 27, 2006.]
* Hussein Belhas: in 1996, this Lebanese three-year-old had his leg blown off in an Israeli attack. Presumably having been declared dead, his body was put in a morgue freezer, but he was subsequently found to be alive. [ [http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/EC9D9CB4-1978-43E1-A91C-4EBB1F77AA3D.htm Synopsis of "Children of Conflict" (television series)] , Al Jazeera, February 10, 2007.]
*Patrick Bement: this Michigan teenager was thought to have been killed in a July 2004 car crash. His friend Nathaniel Smith apparently survived, but lay in hospital heavily bandaged from facial injuries. When Bement's parents viewed his body at the funeral home, they realized that in fact it was Smith's, and that it was their son who had survived. Initially it was thought the parents were 'in denial' or that they had failed to recognise the body due to facial injuries. The mix-up may have occurred because Bement's ID was found near Smith's body after the crash. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-07-15-mistaken-id_x.htm "Mich. authorities misidentify two in crash"] , "USA Today, July 15, 2004.]
* Pope Benedict XV, whose pneumonia in January 1922 caused worldwide expectation of his impending death. His death was prematurely announced by a New York newspaper with the front-page headline "Pope Benedict XV is dead", followed by a later edition headlined "Pope has remarkable recovery." However, the Pope did subsequently die of the illness on January 22. [Ellby, D.: "Shooting the bull", cited on [http://www.anecdotage.com/index.php?aid=9633 Anecdotage.com] ]
* Lal Bihari, Indian founder of the Association of the Dead, an organisation which highlights the plight of people in Uttar Pradesh who are incorrectly declared dead by relatives in order to steal their land, usually in collusion with corrupt officials. Bihari himself was officially dead from 1976 to 1994 as a result of his uncle's attempt to acquire his land. Among various attempts to publicize his situation and demonstrate that he was alive, he stood for election against Rajiv Gandhi in 1989 (and lost). He was awarded the Ig Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for his 'posthumous' activities. [ [http://www.time.com/time/asia/asia/magazine/1999/990719/souls1.html Fathers, M.: "Plight of the living dead"] , "TIME" magazine (Asia), 19 July 1999.] ["Khaleej Times" 23 April 2007, cited in "Private Eye" 22 June 2007.]
* Paul Blais, a US Air Force serviceman, was listed as one of 19 people believed killed in a 1996 Saudi bombing. However, it transpired that he was alive, though in a coma, having been confused with another airman who had died. [ [http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9606/29/saudi.alive/ "For a mother, mourning turns into celebration"] , CNN.com, June 29, 1996.]
* Lucien Bouchard: the former Quebec premier (who had been seriously ill) was reported dead by CTV in September 2005. The station began broadcasting a live tribute to the politician, but cut it short with a sheepish confirmation that he was in fact alive, blaming Radio-Canada for the error. CTV and Radio-Canada continued to blame each other thereafter. [ [http://www.regrettheerror.com/2005/09/networks_argue_.html "Networks argue over false death report"] , RegretTheError.com, September 9, 2005.]
* Peter Boyle (TV and movie character actor), was briefly and incorrectly declared deceased in 1990, a few weeks following a massive stroke where he was nearly paralyzed and could not move or speak for nearly six months.
* James Brady, White House Press Secretary, was shot in the head in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. Three hours later, amid confusion about the extent of his injuries, all three U.S. broadcast TV networks erroneously announced that Brady had died, [cite book|last=Abrams|first=Herbert L.|title=The President Has Been Shot |publisher=Norton|year=1992|pages=125] triggering an on-air outburst by ABC News anchor Frank Reynolds when the information was revealed incorrect. This led to greater subsequent caution about issuing death reports during rapidly-developing situations. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,924769-1,00.html Castro, J.: "The Pope's been shot!"] , "TIME" magazine, May 25, 1981.]
* Rodger Bumpass (voice actor), reported in August 2006 to have died during heart surgery, by Jonesboro, Arkansas station KAIT-TV, the Internet Movie Database, and Arkansas State University's newsletter. [ [http://www.kait8.com/Global/story.asp?S=5335667 "Reports of death of Squidward's "voice" premature] , Kait8.com, August 28, 2006.] This was apparently due to confusion with the 2005 death of a (differently spelled) Roger Bumpass.
* George H. W. Bush (U.S. president 1989-1993), during a visit to Japan, became ill, vomited on the Japanese Prime Minister, and collapsed. His death was being announced on the "CBS Evening News" when a technician, realizing the error, yelled for the anchor to stop.Fact|date=October 2008

C

* Janelle Cahoon: in December 2005, the "Duluth News Tribune" claimed that the Benedictine nun's funeral had been shown in a 1999 documentary. The mistake caused much amusement at her monastery, with some sisters asking her what heaven was like, and others referring to the incident as 'Dead Nun Walking'. [ [http://www.regrettheerror.com/2005/12/paper_kills_nun.html "Paper kills nun"] , RegretTheError.com, December 27, 2005.]
* Carlos Camejo, a Venezuelan man declared dead in September 2007 after a traffic accident, revived during his autopsy. After making an incision in his face, examiners realized something was wrong when he started bleeding. "I woke up because the pain was unbearable," Camejo said. [ [http://uk.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUKN149975820070914?feedType=RSS&feedName=oddlyEnoughNews "'Dead' man wakes up under autopsy knife"] , Reuters, September 14, 2007.]
* Graham Cardwell, a Lincolnshire dockmaster who disappeared in September 1998 and was assumed drowned. Eight months later he was discovered living in secret in the West Midlands. He claimed he had thought he was suffering from cancer (though had not sought medical attention) and wanted to spare his family the trauma of it. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/364379.stm "'Reggie Perrin' father escapes punishment"] , BBC News web site, June 8, 1999.]
* Feliberto Carrasco: this 81-year-old Chilean man woke up in his coffin at his own wake in January 2008. His family had found his body lying limp and cold, and assumed he must have died. While he was lying in his coffin, dressed in a suit and surrounded by relatives, his nephew saw him wake up, though didn't believe it at first. Carrasco said he wasn't in any pain, and asked for a glass of water. His death had been announced on a local radio station, which issued a correction. [ [http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gNcmRrvq5AKUtY4m0N-OAkL1McFg "Not dead yet, Chilean man wakes up at his own wake"] , AFP, January 20, 2008.]
* Fidel Castro (Cuban leader) in the CNN.com incident. The draft obituary, which had used Ronald Reagan's as a template, described Castro as 'lifeguard, athlete, movie star'.
*Whitney Cerak (student) was thought to have died in April 2006 when a van from Taylor University collided with a tractor trailer, leaving five dead. 1400 people attended her funeral. Fellow student Laura VanRyn was thought to have survived the accident, which left her in a coma and heavily bandaged. Suspicions were only aroused when during her gradual recovery in hospital VanRyn started making strange comments and using names wrongly; her university roommate also reported that she did not appear to be VanRyn. Weeks after the accident, when concerned hospital staff asked her her name, she wrote 'Whitney Cerak', which was confirmed by dental records. The tragic mix-up appeared to have been caused by Cerak and VanRyn's somewhat similar appearance, and confusion at the crash scene. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-05-31-indiana-mistaken-identity_x.htm Kim, T.: "Case of mistaken identity stuns families"] , "USA Today", May 31, 2006.] [ [http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-06-04-mistakenID_x.htm?loc=interstitialskip "Mistaken identities: Confusion of horrific accident resulted in wrong tag"] , "USA Today", June 3, 2006.] Cerak co-wrote a book about her experience titled "Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope". [ [http://www.amazon.com/Mistaken-Identity-Families-Survivor-Unwavering/dp/1416567356/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206554627&sr=8-1 Amazon.com: Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope: Don & Susie Van Ryn, Newell, Colleen & Whitney Cerak, Mark Tabb: Books ] ]
* Joshua Chamberlain (American Civil War officer and Governor of Maine): when he was shot through the hip and groin in the 1864 Siege of Petersburg, he was thought to be on the point of death, and so was reported dead by at least one newspaper (perhaps the "New York Times"). However, he gradually recovered in hospital. Chamberlain was shown the newspaper report 'when they thought he was able to take it', and reportedly 'got a great kick out of seeing his obituary'. [ [http://community.curtislibrary.com/pejepscot/csmith.htm "Interview between Mrs. Paul Copeland and Mrs. Winfield Smith on General Chamberlain"] , Pejepscot Historical Society, 1970s.]
* Dick Cheney (US Vice-President) in the CNN.com incident. The draft obituary, which had been based on the Queen Mother's, described Cheney as 'Queen Consort' and the 'UK's favorite grandmother'.
* Francesca Ciardi was one of four actors who the Italian police believed had been murdered in the making of the 1980 horror film "Cannibal Holocaust". So realistic was the film that shortly after it was released its director Ruggero Deodato was arrested for murder. The actors had signed contracts to stay out of the media for a year in order to fuel rumours that the film was a snuff movie. The court was only convinced that they were alive when the contracts were cancelled and the actors appeared on a television show as proof. Additionally, Deodato proved to the court that the particularly realistic scene in which Ciardi was impaled on a stake had been merely a special effect.Ruggero Deodato (interviewee), "In the Jungle: The Making of Cannibal Holocaust", Alan Young Pictures, Italy, 2003.] Ruggero Deodato, interview with Sage Stallone and Bob Murawski, "Cult-Con 2000", Cannibal Holocaust DVD Commentary, Tarrytown, New York, 2000.]
* Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction writer, had his obituary published by the G.R.A.A. (Goddard Retirees and Alumni Association) newsletter in 2000 (April). The obituary says he died on February 10, 2000, and even specifies the cause of death as pulmonary fibrosis [http://graa.gsfc.nasa.gov/newsletter/apr2000.htm] . To date, no correction seems to have been published. Clarke died in 2008 of "respiratory complications and heart failure" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7304004.stm] .
* Mildred C. Clarke, an 86-year old resident of Albany, New York, was found cold and motionless on her living room floor in 1994, with no signs of life. She was declared dead and placed in a body bag in a morgue. However, ninety minutes later, an attendant noticed signs of breathing. Despite treatment, she died a week later. [http://www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/buried.asp "Just dying to get out"] , Snopes.com]
* Kurt Cobain: the rock musician was reported dead by CNN (though was in fact in a coma) after an overdose in Rome in March 1994, shortly before his actual death. [ [http://www.jesuismort.com/biographie_celebrite_chercher/biographie-kurt_cobain-1259.php Je Suis Mort web site (in French)] (retrieved 12 February, 2007)]
* Samuel Taylor Coleridge: in 1816 the writer heard his death mentioned in a hotel by a man reading out a newspaper report of a coroner's inquest. He asked to see the paper, and was told that "it was very extraordinary that Coleridge the poet should have hanged himself just after the success of his play ["Remorse"] ; but he was always a strange mad fellow". Coleridge replied: "Indeed, sir, it is a "most extraordinary" thing that he should have hanged himself, be the subject of an inquest, and yet that he should at this moment be speaking to you." A man had been cut down from a tree in Hyde Park, and the only identification was that his shirt was marked 'S. T. Coleridge'; Coleridge thought the shirt had probably been stolen from him. [C. R. Leslie: "Autobiographical Recollections" (1860), i. 50-1. Cited on [http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartboard/shop/anecdtes/c18/clrdge.htm OurCivilisation.com] ]
* Jeffrey Combs (actor) was confused with a businessman named Jeffrey "Coombs" who was aboard hijacked American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the World Trade Center during the September 11, 2001 attacks. Combs the actor was pronounced dead by news media outlets and had to announce publicly that he was still alive. [ [http://www.september11victims.com/september11victims/VictimInfo.asp?ID=23 September 11, 2001 Victims] ]
* Sean Connery: In 1993, news that Connery was undergoing radiation treatment for an undisclosed throat ailment sparked media reports that the actor was suffering from throat cancer following years of heavy smoking, and he was falsely declared dead by the Japanese and South African news agencies. Connery immediately appeared on the David Letterman show to deny all of this.
* Alice Cooper: in the early 1970s, "Melody Maker" magazine confused readers by publishing a satirical concert review of the rock musician in the form of a mock obituary. So many fans took it literally that Cooper had to issue a statement, reassuring them: "I'm alive, and drunk as usual." [ [http://www.anecdotage.com/index.php?aid=15665 Anecdotage.com] ]
* Delimar Vera Cuevas: this new-born girl was declared by police to have died in a Philadelphia house fire in 1997. Six years later her mother became suspicious when a girl at a birthday party she was attending bore similarities to her other children. Subsequent DNA tests proved the girl was Delimar. Local resident Carolyn Correa was thought to have started the fire in order to kidnap her. Police could not explain why they had originally declared Delimar dead, as no human remains had been found in the fire, which had not been intense enough to completely destroy a body. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/Northeast/03/01/girl.found.alive/index.html "Mom finds kidnapped daughter six years later"] , CNN.com, March 2, 2004.]

D

* Aden Abdullah Osman Daar: in May 2007 the first President of Somalia was erroneously reported dead by news portal SomaliNet and other web sites. In reality, he was in a critical condition and on life support in a Nairobi hospital following a long illness. One source said Daar's daughter had 'assumed' he had died and had informed government officials; another blamed Nairobi medical sources. Daar died shortly afterwards on June 8, 2007. [ [http://somalinet.com/news/world/Somalia/10580 Farah, M.A.: "Somalia: Former president in coma (correction)"] , SomaliNet, May 22, 2007.] [ [http://allafrica.com/stories/200705220976.html Yusuf, A.O.: "Somalia: First President Dies At the Age of 99"] , allAfrica.com, 22 May 2007.] [ [http://english.cri.cn/2947/2007/05/23/198@230282.htm "Somalia's Founding Father Dies at Age 99"] , CRI English, 23 May, 2007.]
* John Darwin: this British prison officer was presumed to have drowned in March 2002 when he disappeared while canoeing in the sea near Hartlepool. Despite a huge search operation, and the fact that the weather had been calm, only his paddle was found, followed weeks later by the wreckage of his canoe. An inquest declared him dead. However, in December 2007 Darwin walked into a London police station, announcing: "I think I'm a missing person", and claiming to have no memory of the past seven years. Darwin's wife Anne, who had claimed on his life insurance, says he turned up at their home in 2003 and lived in secret there and next door for three years. They also spent time together in Panama where they planned to set up a hotel for canoeing holidays; she emigrated there shortly before Darwin reappeared. Both Darwin and his wife were subsequently arrested. (See John Darwin disappearance case for full details.) [See references in John Darwin disappearance case.]
* Thomas Dennison: after this 37-year-old Briton went missing in October 2007, a body that was found in Greater Manchester was identified by his parents and caseworker as his. After the funeral and cremation, police contacted Dennison's mother saying they thought they had in fact found him alive and living rough in Nottingham some days earlier. To prove it, they asked her for three questions only Dennison would know the answer to; he subsequently phoned her, saying "You've buried me". The body bore an uncanny resemblance to Dennison - even with similar scars and leg ulcers - leading police to ask whether he had had a twin brother. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2795174.ece Jenkins, R.: "Missing son is found alive after mother's ordeal at cremation"] , "The Times", November 2, 2007.] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/7075094.stm "'Cremated son' later found alive"] , BBC News, November 2, 2007.]
* Lord Desborough in 1920, when "The Times" confused the British politician with Lord Bessborough. ["The Times", December 2, 1920.]
* Jhulri Devi was officially declared dead in 1974 and chased off her farm by relatives in order to steal her land in Uttar Pradesh, India. After many years of legal delays, her 'death' was only annulled in 1999, by when she had reached the age of 85, after intervention by the Association of the Dead, an organisation that protests such cases. (See also Lal Bihari.) [ [http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/images/nation.htm#9 "'Dead' to come alive against Vajpayee"] , "The Tribune", July 24, 1999.] [ [http://www.time.com/time/asia/asia/magazine/1999/990719/souls1.html Fathers, M.: "Plight of the living dead"] , "TIME" magazine (Asia), 19 July 1999.]
* Joe DiMaggio (baseball player), broadcast by NBC in January 1999 as a text report running along the bottom of the television screen. The text, which DiMaggio saw himself, had been pre-prepared following newspaper reports that DiMaggio was near death, and was transmitted when a technician pressed the wrong button. [ [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/news/1999/01/25/tv_dimaggio/ "We must be in heaven together"] , "Sports Illustrated", January 25, 1999.]
* John Duns Scotus (philosopher) is said to have been accidentally buried alive - when his tomb was reopened, his body was reportedly found outside his coffin with his hands torn and bloody after attempting to escape. [cite web |url=http://www.prairieghosts.com/grave_horror.html |first=Troy |last=Taylor |title=Beyond The Grave |year=2000 |accessdate=5 December |accessyear=2006]
* Ian Dury (musician), pronounced dead on XFM radio by Bob Geldof in 1998, possibly due to hoax information from a listener disgruntled at the station's change of ownership. The incident caused music paper NME to call Geldof "the world's worst DJ." [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/330571.stm "Radio stars await awards"] , BBC News web site, April 28, 1999]

E

*Marjorie Elphinstone: this 17th-century resident of Ardtannies, Scotland was buried (having presumably been declared dead). But she revived and let out a groan when robbers tried to steal jewellery from her grave. They fled, and she walked home. [http://www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/buried.asp "Just dying to get out"] , Snopes.com]
*Marjorie Halcrow Erskine: having presumably been declared dead, this resident of Chirnside, Scotland was buried in 1674 in a shallow grave by a sexton, who returned later to steal her jewellery. When he tried to cut off her finger to remove a ring, she awoke. [http://www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/buried.asp "Just dying to get out"] , Snopes.com]
*David Ervine: the Northern Irish politician suffered a heart attack and brain haemorrhage on January 7 2007. The led with the news that he had died, correcting the error later in the bulletin. RTÉ's web site also reported him dead. Ervine died the following afternoon. [cite news |url=http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=9&si=1751140&issue_id=15081 |title='It was all my mistake and I regret the hurt,' says Gorman |quote=RTÉ's Northern editor Tommie Gorman, speaking live during Sunday's nine o'clock news, said that Mr Ervine had passed away after suffering a massive heart attack. He went on to give an overview of Mr Ervine's political life. Newsreader Anne Doyle corrected the error later in the bulletin. |first=Jason |last=O'Brien |date=January 9 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-05 |work =Irish Independent (free registration required)]

F

* Frederick Fane, cricketer, reported in "Wisden Cricketers' Almanack" 1956 edition as having died on December 9, 1954. The 1961 edition reported his real death, aged 85, on November 27, 1960, saying: "Owing to a similarity of initials, Wisden reported his death when he was 79. The man concerned was Francis L. Fane, his cousin. By a coincidence, Mr Fane's father also once read his own obituary." ["Wisden Cricketers' Almanack", 1956 edition, Obituaries, page 977.] ["Wisden Cricketers' Almanack", 1961 edition, Obituaries, page 945.]
* Frederick John Fane (cricketer) [ [http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Players/116/116368/116368.html Cricket Archive ] ] , father of Frederick Fane (see above). According to "Wisden" 1961, he too suffered a premature obituary, though no details were given.
* Dorothy Fay (film actress, also called Dorothy Southworth Ritter), was declared dead in an August 2001 "Daily Telegraph" obituary. Mrs Ritter, who lived in a nursing home, had been taken to another room temporarily when a friend stopped by to visit. On hearing that Mrs Ritter was "gone", the friend telephoned the "Telegraph" obituary editor. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/life/2006-06-21-obit_x.htm Wilson, C.: "Death is the story of their lives"] , "USA Today", June 21, 2006.]
*Will Ferrell (comedian), reported by iNewswire to have died in a paragliding accident in March 2006. The press release was a hoax; Ferrell has never been paragliding. [ [http://www.regrettheerror.com/press-releases/will-ferrell-is-not-dead-not-paragliding "Will Ferrell is not dead, not paragliding"] , RegretTheError.com, March 14, 2006. Includes text of iNewswire press release and Google News summary]
*Terry L. Fergerson, a teacher from West Monroe, New York, US, was thought to have died in May 2006 when a (differently spelled) Terry L. Ferguson was killed in a vehicle collision. When Fergerson arrived at work the following day he found fellow teachers and students consoling each other over his death; various of his friends and relatives also thought he had died. It is not clear whether the confusion was made by them, local media or the police. In addition to their similar names, Fergerson and the real victim both drove red Chevy pickups and were of similar age. "I don't know what the percentages are, I'm not a mathematician, but it's pretty far out," Fergerson said. [ [http://news.ewoss.com/articles/D8HDSLMG0.aspx "Teacher mistakenly reported dead"] , Associated Press (cited on eWoss.com), May 5, 2006.] [ [http://domsweirdnews.blogspot.com/2006/05/reports-of-my-death-are-exaggerated.html "Reports of my death are exaggerated"] (longer but unattributed version of Associated Press story).]
* Sebastiao Fidelis: a Brazilian man whose supposed body was identified by his wife and buried in 2001 after he had been missing for two months. A year later he was found wandering in the area, having lost his memory. ["Brazilian turns up alive and well a year after his 'burial'", Ananova, January 8, 2003, cited on [http://www.leonardrossiter.com/reginaldperrin/Real.html Reggie Online] .]
*Gerald Ford (former US President) in the CNN.com incident. Comedian Dana Carvey used Ford as an example when satirizing premature obituaries in a Saturday Night Live sketch.

G

*S. Gandaruban: this Sri Lankan man living in Singapore faked his own death in 1987 and fled the country to escape creditors after his car rental business collapsed. He then arranged for a fake death certificate stating that he had been shot dead in crossfire. His brother and wife were convicted of their involvement. In 2007 he was charged with conspiring to claim extensive life insurance arising from the fake death. [ [http://www.lankatimes.com/fullstory.php?id=3431 "Lankan charged for faking own death"] , LankaTimes.com, date unknown (retrieved December 4, 2007).]
*Marcus Garvey: after suffering a stroke in January 1940, the Black nationalist read his obituary in the "Chicago Defender" which described him as "broke, alone and unpopular". Apparently as a result, Garvey suffered a second stroke and died.
*Gordon Gee: in March 2003 the Vanderbilt University president was declared dead by a fake edition of the university's student newspaper "The Vanderbilt Hustler", sparking early dismissal from classes, tears, and moments of silence. Gee issued a press release confirming he was still alive. The hoax was perpetrated by staff from a separate student satirical magazine "The Slant", whose managing editor would only say: "I have the right to remain silent, and I am exercising my right of silence". [cite news | last = Berger | first = Meredith | url=http://www.vanderbilthustler.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2003/03/14/3e71a2dbcee09 | archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20031229152518/http://www.vanderbilthustler.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2003/03/14/3e71a2dbcee09 | archivedate=2003-12-29 | title = Slant hoax ends in apologies |work = The Vanderbilt Hustler | date = March 14, 2003 | accessdate = 2007-10-11]
*Harry Gordon: in 2000, this Australian businessman faked his own death in a boating accident so his wife could claim a fortune in life insurance, though he claimed it was to evade business and relationship problems. He assumed a new identity and fled to Spain, then to England (where he worked in a potato crisp warehouse), South Africa and New Zealand. He explained gaps in his past to a new girlfriend by telling her he was on a witness protection programme. He was discovered in 2005 and later jailed when, by extraordinary coincidence, his brother encountered him on a mountain path in New Zealand. Gordon published a book about his exploits, titled "How I Faked My Own Death". [ [http://www.stuff.co.nz/sundaystartimes/4144431a24815.html "The man who faked his own death: Harry Gordon"] , "Sunday Star Times", 29 July, 2007.]
* Frank Gorshin (The Riddler from "Batman"): in 1957, after driving to a screentest for 39 hours without a break to avoid having to fly, the actor fell asleep at the wheel and crashed. A Los Angeles newspaper reported him dead. Gorshin was unconscious for four days, and the role went to another actor. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/05/19/db1903.xml "Frank Gorshin"] , "Daily Telegraph", May 19 2005.]
* Nicephorus Glycas: in 1896, having presumably been declared dead, the Greek Orthodox bishop of Lesbos awoke in his coffin after he had been lying in state for two days. He sat up and asked what mourners were staring at. [Pile, S.: "The Book of Heroic Failures", Routledge Kegan & Paul, 1979.]
* Robert Graves: the writer was left for dead in 1916 after receiving life-threatening injuries at the Battle of the Somme. He made a remarkable recovery, and read a report of his death in "The Times". [ [http://www.robertgraves.org/bio.php#one Firla, I.: "Robert Graves: a critical biography"] , St John's College Robert Graves Trust web site.]
* Ann Green (or Anne Greene), a servant in Oxfordshire, was hanged for allegedly murdering her newborn child in 1650. Having presumably been declared dead, her corpse was taken away for dissection, but she revived. She was ultimately pardoned, and became something of a celebrity. [ [http://www.jrsm.org/cgi/content/full/95/3/157 Carter, R.: "Bodies politic"] , "Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine" 95:157-159, 2002.] [ [http://www.marshallsgroup.com/Duns%20Tew.htm "Duns Tew"] , Marshalls Chartered Surveyors web site.]
* Catherine Sophie Greenhill, a British three-year-old who was pronounced dead after falling from an upper storey window onto flagstones in the late 18th century. However, she was revived by a Dr (or Mr) Squires, a member of the recently-formed Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned (later the Royal Humane Society) using an early form of defibrillator. After a time in coma she eventually made a full recovery. [R.S. Atkinson and T.V. Boulton (eds.): "The History Of Anesthesia", cited in [http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/PersonsApparentlyDead.htm Harris, S.B.: "The Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Dead"] , "Cryonics", September 1990.]
* Friedrich Gulda (pianist), who in 1999 faxed the Austrian News Agency claiming he had died of a stroke at Zurich airport. Shortly afterwards he announced he was still alive and would be giving a 'Resurrection Recital', which was accompanied by go-go dancers. (He often played pranks to annoy the musical establishment.) [ [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20000202/ai_n14286524 Anderson, M.: "Obituary: Friedrich Gulda"] , "The Independent", February 2, 2000 (the obituary upon Gulda's actual death)]
* Dominic Guzzetta: in November 2005, the former University of Akron president was reported by the "Akron Beacon Journal" to have been 'posthumously honored' at a fundraising event. Prior to this, he had joked for years that he reads the obituaries to check his name isn't in them. [ [http://www.regrettheerror.com/2005/11/paper_posthumou.html "Paper posthumously honors living man"] , RegretTheError.com, November 23, 2005.]

H

* Lincoln Hall, an Australian mountaineer who in May 2006 became confused from altitude sickness while descending from the summit of Mount Everest. A rescue attempt was abandoned after several hours when Hall was reported to have died. However, he was discovered alive the following morning and rescued. [ [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/05/28/ap/world/mainD8HSNSCG0.shtml "Australian climber revived on Mt. Everest"] , CBS News, May 28, 2006.] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/5019288.stm 'Dead' Everest man safe at camp] , BBC News, 27 May, 2006.]
* Corinna Harfouch: the German actress was reported dead by a Swiss newspaper when she fell into a river during filming and was swept away. In fact, she survived and phoned her ex-husband, who had seen the obituary, from hospital to confirm that she was alive. [ [http://www.shortnews.de/start.cfm?id=477488 "Corinna Harfouch fast ertrunken" (German)] , Shortnews, September 19, 2003. ]
* Ernest Hemingway: after the author and his wife Mary Welsh Hemingway were involved in two African plane crashes in 1954, newspapers reported that both had died. Hemingway survived, but suffered extensive injuries which affected him for the rest of his life. AE Hotchner claimed that Hemingway read a scrap book of his obituaries every morning with a glass of champagne after the incident. [ [http://encarta.msn.com/media_461577223/Ernest_Hemingway_Quick_Facts.html "Ernest Hemingway quick facts"] , MSN Encarta (retrieved on 13 February 2007)]
* Bill Henry (American baseball player): newspapers and the Associated Press reported him dead in August 2007 after the death of a similar-looking retired salesman of the same name. The dead man had claimed for decades that he was the retired sportsman - even to his wife and stepchildren - and had explained away discrepancies in his story, such as Bill Henry's name and place of birth on baseball cards, as printing errors. The fraud came to light when a genealogist investigated the incorrect date of birth published in the obituaries. [http://www.theledger.com/article/20070905/NEWS/709050475/1004 "Lakeland Man Wasn't Who He Said He Was"] , TheLedger.com, September 5, 2007]
* Michael Heseltine MP in 1994, when then-DJ Chris Morris implied on BBC Radio 1 (as a prank) that the British politician had died. This led to an on-air tribute by fellow MP Jerry Hayes (during which Morris managed to make Hayes laugh inappropriately), and Morris's subsequent suspension. (See also Jimmy Savile.) [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1460463.stm Walker, A.: "Chris Morris: Brass Neck"] , BBC News web site, July 27, 2001.]
* Carl Hilderbrandt: a British businessman who jumped bail in 1990 on theft charges and faked his suicide by drowning, presumably resulting in his being declared dead. He started a new life in America, but years later was identified by a British tourist and eventually prosecuted. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/htmlContent.jhtml?html=%2Farchive%2F2000%2F04%2F21%2Fnfake21.html Stokes, P.: "'Reggie Perrin' fugitive is caught in Florida"] , "Daily Telegraph", April 21, 2000.]
*Cockie Hoogterp, the second wife of Baron Blixen, was declared dead in a 1936 Daily Telegraph obituary after the Baron's third wife died in an auto accident. Mrs. Hoogterp sent all her bills back marked "Deceased" and ordered the Telegraph to print that "Mrs. Hoogterp wishes it to be known that she has not yet been screwed in her coffin." [ [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_v39/ai_5091234 Buckley, P.L.: "Out in the noonday sun",] "National Review", 31 July, 1987]
* Bob Hope, twice (aided by his great longevity). In both cases a pre-written obituary of the entertainer was accidentally published on a news web site:
#In 1998 his obituary appeared on the Associated Press web site, leading to the announcement of his death in the United States House of Representatives, broadcast live on C-SPAN. [ [http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-hope,1,6999733.story?coll=la-news-obituaries&ctrack=1&cset=true Martinez, A.: "The Master of the One-Liner"] , "Los Angeles Times", July 29, 2003.]
#In the 2003 CNN.com incident. Hope's draft obituary, which had used the Queen Mother's as a template, described him as 'Queen Consort' and the 'UK's favorite grandmother'. In fact Hope died just three months later.
* Mr Hopkins: this resident of Brentwood, Essex (first name unknown) was incorrectly reported by the "Brentwood Gazette" to have died of cancer in August 2006. [ [http://www.regrettheerror.com/2006/08/another_death_b.html "Another death by media"] , RegretTheError.com, August 18, 2006.]
* Humphrey, the Downing Street cat (or 'Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office') under Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, was feared dead on two occasions:
#In September 1995 a government press spokesman announced that Humphrey was presumed dead, as he had been missing since June. After the ensuing publicity, he was found to be alive and residing in the nearby Royal Army Medical College where he had been taken in as a stray. A statement was issued quoting Humphrey as saying: "I have had a wonderful holiday at the Royal Army Medical College, but it is nice to be back and I am looking forward to the new parliamentary session." [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/03/14/ndoss14.xml Millward, D.: "Humphrey... the Downing St dossier"] , "Daily Telegraph", March 15, 2005.]
#In November 1997, there were media allegations that Cherie Blair disliked the cat so much that she had had him killed; the government claimed he had merely gone into retirement away from the public spotlight. In Parliament, Alan Clark MP demanded that the government prove Humphrey was still alive. As a result, the government released photographs of Humphrey posing with the day's newspapers as proof. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/politics/34455.stm "Purr-fect ending fur Humphrey!"] , BBC News, November 25, 1997.]
* William Hung: in 2004, a satirical news report on the Broken Newz web site claiming that the American Idol contestant had died of a heroin overdose was widely believed, forcing Hung to issue a denial. [ [http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/hung.asp "William Hung"] , Snopes.com]

J

* Mackayala Jespersen: this 20-month-old Californian girl who had apparently drowned in a swimming pool in 2003 revived 39 minutes after being pronounced dead by doctors at Anaheim Memorial Hospital. [ [http://www.murmurs.com/forum/showthread.php?t=61324 Carter, C.J.: "Revived girl baffles medical experts"] , Associated Press, ?14 November, 2003.]
* Pope John Paul II is the only known triple recipient:
#Immediately after the 1981 attempt on his life, despite heightened caution due to CBS's embarrassing premature obituary of James Brady only weeks earlier, CNN implied the Pope had died by repeatedly referring to him in the past tense. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,924769-1,00.html Castro, J.: "The Pope's been shot!"] , "TIME" magazine, May 25, 1981.]
#In 2003, by CNN again, this time in the CNN.com incident. The draft obituary, which had used the Queen Mother's as a template, noted the Pope's 'love of racing'.
#On the eve of his actual death on April 1, 2005, Fox News claimed he had died after it received incorrect reports from the Italian media that his ECG had gone flat. [ [http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/the_pope/pope_on_fnc_shep_smith_declares_pope_dead_then_retracts_it_20057.asp "Pope: on FNC, Shep Smith declares Pope dead - then retracts it"] , Mediabistro.com TVNewser, April 1, 2005. Includes transcript and link to video.]
* James Earl Jones: in 1998 the actor was erroneously pronounced dead during a radio broadcast of a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game by play-by-play announcer Lanny Frattare; Frattare had confused him with James Earl Ray, Martin Luther King's assassin, who had just died. [Johnson, L.A. " [http://www.post-gazette.com/magazine/19980824dead1.asp Web site keeps track of a very vital statistic of celebrities - their mortality] ", the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, published August 24, 1998, accessed March 9, 2007.]
* Raid Juhi: in March 2005 the presiding judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein was incorrectly reported by NBC News to have been assassinated. The real victims were another trial judge, Barbweez Mahmood, and his son. NBC blamed incorrect information from US officials. [ [http://www.regrettheerror.com/2005/03/nbc_names_wrong.html "NBC names wrong Iraqi judge"] , RegretTheError.com, March 4, 2005.]
* Steve Jobs: On 27 August, 2008 Bloomberg accidentally published a 17-page obituary. In a subsequent public appearance Jobs joked about the accident by displaying on screen during a keynote an imprecise quotation of Mark Twain (who was also the recipient of a premature obituary) reading "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated". [http://gawker.com/5042795/bloomberg-runs-steve-jobs-obituary] [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article4628491.ece]

K

* Kailash (full name unknown): this farm labourer from Uttar Pradesh, India was officially registered as dead by cousins in order to steal land he had inherited. He went to court, but the case was mired in legal delays, and his cousins beat him and threatened to kill him. "It is better to be dead on paper than to be really dead", he said. (See also Lal Bihari.) [ [http://www.time.com/time/asia/asia/magazine/1999/990719/souls1.html Fathers, M.: "Plight of the living dead"] , "TIME" magazine (Asia), 19 July 1999.]
* Thomas à Kempis (monk and religious writer) was apparently buried alive in 1471, in that splinters were later found embedded under the fingernails of his corpse. He was denied canonization on the grounds that a saint would not fight death in this way. [Wilkins, R.: "A history of man's obsession and fears", 1990, cited on [http://theshadowlands.net/premature.html TheShadowlands.net] ]
* Ken Kesey: in 1966, the author of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" faked his own suicide in an attempt to escape drugs charges. He had friends leave his truck and a suicide note on a cliffside road in California, while he fled to Mexico. He later returned to the US, but was arrested and jailed for five months. [ [http://www.litweb.net/biography/334/Ken_Kesey.html Ken Kesey biography] on LitWeb.net]
* Rudyard Kipling: the writer's death was reported in a magazine, to which he wrote: "I've just read that I am dead. Don't forget to delete me from your list of subscribers." [ [http://www.biblio.com/authors/611/Rudyard_Kipling_Biography.html "Rudyard Kipling"] , Biblio.com.]
* Michael "Corporal" Kirchner, former professional wrestler, was reported dead in an article at WWE.com on October 15, 2006. He and his family were understandably confused and upset, and even after Kirchner confirmed that he was alive, the error was never officially retracted on WWE's website. [ [http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/2006/10/21/2087452.html Cpl. Kirchner speaks: "I'm not dead!"] ]
* Larry Kramer: in December 2001, the gay rights activist was reported dead by Associated Press following a liver transplant. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1589/is_2002_Feb_5/ai_82322819 Dahir, M.: "Larry gets a liver - but who's next?"] , "The Advocate", February 5, 2002.]

L

* Artie Lange, comedian from The Howard Stern Show, was reported dead in May, 2004 by KLAS-TV in Las Vegas. The show was being broadcast from Las Vegas, and Stern show prank caller Captain Janks capitalized on Artie's debauched reputation by telling the news station that he was a representative from the Hard Rock Hotel, and that Artie had been found dead in his hotel room. [ [http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/2004/05/13/awsi2.html Silver, Kate: "Channel 8 Killed Artie Lange"] , "Las Vegas Weekly", May 13, 2004.]
* Titan Leeds, publisher of an almanac competing with Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac." Franklin had repeatedly predicted the death of Leeds in his publication, and when the date of Leeds' supposed passing had come and gone, published Leeds' obituary anyway. (See the somewhat similar case of John Partridge.) [ [http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=2617 Lena, A.: "Poor Richard's Almanack"] , "The Literary Encyclopedia".]

M

* Nelson Mandela (South African leader) in the CNN.com incident.
* Gabriel García Márquez (writer), reported dead by Peruvian daily "La República" in 2000. [ [http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/day/05_09_2001.html Museum of Hoaxes web site] ]
* Johnny Sterling Martin: to avoid paying child support, in 1979 this American persuaded a relative to call a family court and claim that Martin had died in a bar fight. In January 2006, following a tip-off by an ex-wife, he was located 150 miles away where he had been living under his real name. He was arrested and jailed. During the intervening decades his child support bill had risen to $30,000. [ [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10924038/from/ET/ "Police: Man faked death to avoid child support"] , MSNBC, January 19, 2006.]
* Alison Matera: in 2006 this Florida woman told fellow church choir members that she had cancer, and over the course of 11 months gave them reports of her treatment, culminating in the claim that she was near death and would be going into a hospice. She subsequently made further phone calls masquerading as a hospice nurse, then as Matera's sister, claiming that Matera had died. The church arranged a memorial service - to which Matera showed up, again claiming to be her sister. Suspicions had already been aroused from the phone calls, in which the nurse and sister both sounded exactly like Matera. Police did not arrest her as no crime had been committed; she blamed her behaviour on childhood trauma. [ [http://www.sptimes.com/2007/02/02/Hernando/Woman_s_tragic_tale_j.shtml Lake, T.: "Woman's tragic tale just a tale after all"] , "St Petersburg Times", February 2, 2007.]
* Mary Mather, a paediatrician who was reported dead in December 2004 by the General Medical Council after confusion with another person of the same name. [ [http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/330/7496/912 Mather, M.: "Die another day"] , "British Medical Journal", 16 April 2005]
* Jerry Mathers: rumours that the "Leave it to Beaver" actor had been killed in Vietnam spread to newspapers by December 1969. (Claims that Associated Press and United Press International put out the story, and that it arose from confusion with the death of another soldier called Mathers, appear to be false.) [ [http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/mathers.asp "Believe it to Beaver"] , Snopes.com.]
* Victor Mature (film actor), reported dead in at least one film book. [ [http://dpsinfo.com/dps/rumors.html Dead People Server] ]
* Paul McCartney (musician) was proclaimed dead in 1966 by a caller to radio DJ Russ Gibb's show on WKNR-FM Detroit. A few days later New York DJ Roby Yonge was fired for discussing McCartney's possible death on a late-night show. These and other incidents led to interminable rumors that McCartney's supposed death (hinted at by a trail of clues in various Beatles songs) had been covered up and he had been replaced by a look-alike. [Reeve, A.J.: "Turn Me On, Dead Man: The Beatles and the "Paul is Dead" Hoax". AuthorHouse Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-4184-8294-3]
*Vince McMahon, chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment. He was presumed to have died in a limousine explosion live on air and the WWE's website was transformed into a tribute for him. However, in the wake of the Chris Benoit double murder and suicide, McMahon appeared in an empty arena on the following night's WWE Raw and revealed that the explosion had been a stunt. The entire planned storyline was abandoned out of respect for those that had died. [ [http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2007/06/29/wwe-vince-mcmahon-introduces-chris-benoit-tribute-on-monday-nig/ "WWE: Vince McMahon Introduces Chris Benoit Tribute on Monday Night Raw"] ]
*Sipho William Mdletshe, a South African man who was thought to have died in a 1993 traffic accident. After spending two days in a metal box in a mortuary, he was freed when his cries alerted workers. However his fiancee refused to see him thereafter, believing he had turned into a zombie. [http://www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/buried.asp "Just dying to get out"] , Snopes.com]
* Thomas Menino: as an April Fool's Day prank in 1998, shock jocks Opie and Anthony claimed on WAAF-FM radio that the Boston mayor had died in a car accident. As a result they were fired, but received huge support from fans and were hired shortly afterwards by a more popular New York station. [ [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10F15FB39550C708DDDAE0894D0494D81&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fPeople%2fM%2fMenino%2c%20Thomas%20M%2e Adelson, A.: "On-air prank earns pair a shot at radio big time"] , "New York Times", July 13, 1998.]
* Denise Michaels: this British woman faked her own death in 2003 to claim on life insurance and avoid repaying large loans. She travelled to Egypt, then arranged for a relative to report that she had died. However, her life insurers grew suspicious, and hired private investigators who found her living with her sister in Egypt. She returned to the UK voluntarily, and was subsequently jailed. [ [http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/Woman-faked-death-in-500000.2112381.jp "Woman faked death in £500,000 fraud bid"] , "Peterborough Evening Telegraph", March 10, 2007.]
* Prasad and Mahaprasad Mishra (Indian brothers) were officially declared dead in 1979 by four nephews in order to steal their land in Uttar Pradesh. Though the nephews were forced to admit fraud, the case was mired in legal delays for many years. The Mishra brothers' 'deaths' were finally annulled in 1999 (by when Prasad had reached the age of 75) after intervention by the Association of the Dead, an organisation that protests such cases. (See also Lal Bihari.) [ [http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/images/nation.htm#9 "'Dead' to come alive against Vajpayee"] , "The Tribune", July 24, 1999.] [ [http://www.time.com/time/asia/asia/magazine/1999/990719/souls1.html Fathers, M.: "Plight of the living dead"] , "TIME" magazine (Asia), 19 July 1999.]
* Kel Mitchell was declared dead in July, 2006 due to unknown causes. [ [http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/kelmitchell.asp] ]
* George Monbiot (environmentalist and writer) was once declared clinically dead in Lodwar General Hospital in north-western Kenya after contracting cerebral malaria. He recovered. [ [http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2000/06/09/about-george-monbiot/ George Monbiot official web site] , retrieved 1 June, 2007.]
* Peter Moran (British journalist) was reported dead in the December 2007 issue of aviation magazine "FlyPast"; he had previously contributed to the magazine for several years. This was apparently due to confusion with another aviation writer of the same name, and was corrected in the January 2008 issue. ["FlyPast" December 2007 & January 2008.] [ [http://forum.keypublishing.co.uk/archive/index.php?t-75616.html Discussion on The Aviation Forum] , November 2007.]
* Levy Mwanawasa: On July 3 2008, the Johannesburg-based 702 Talk Radio claimed that the President of Zambia had died in a Paris hospital while recovering from a stroke suffered 4 days before in Egypt. The government stated that the story was false. [cite web|url=http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601116&sid=aKse6rwDROtE&refer=africa|title=Zambian President Mwanawasa Is Alive, Government Says (Update1)|work=Bloomberg|date=2008-07-03|accessdate=2008-07-03] Mwanawasa died 47 days later from compications of the stroke. [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7570285.stm |title=BBC NEWS - Zambia's president dies in France |date = 2008-08-20 |accessdate=2008-08-19]

N

* Jayaprakash Narayan: the politician's death was erroneously announced by India's prime minister in 1979, causing a brief wave of national mourning, including the suspension of parliament and regular radio broadcasting, and closure of schools and shops. The mistake arose when the director of the Intelligence Bureau saw a body looking like Narayan being carried from hospital. [Pile, S.: "The Book of Heroic Failures", Routledge Kegan & Paul, 1979.]
* Alfred Nobel (arms manufacturer and founder of the Nobel Prize): in 1888, the death of his brother Ludvig caused several newspapers to publish obituaries of Alfred in error. A French obituary stated "Le marchand de la mort est mort" ("The merchant of death is dead") and that Nobel "became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before". It is sometimes said that Nobel's unhappiness with the obituaries prompted his founding of the Nobel Prize in order to improve his posthumous legacy, though it is not clear whether this is true. (Incidentally, several Nobel Prize winners have also received premature obituaries, including Bertrand Russell, Nelson Mandela and Harold Pinter.)
*Joseph Norton: the death of the 89-year-old University at Albany professor emeritus was incorrectly reported in the Summer 2007 edition of the university's alumni magazine. When asked whether he knew anyone who wanted him dead, Norton replied, "I haven't any idea. There might well be. I've been rather active in the gay world, which not everybody approves of." [ [http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=627192&category=CAMPUSCOL&BCCode=&newsdate=10/4/2007 Parry, M.: "Former U of Albany prof's obituary was premature"] , "Albany Times-Union", October 4, 2007.] [ [http://www.albany.edu/pr/ualbanymagfall07/AlumniNewsNotesFall07.pdf Correction, p.51, "UAlbany" magazine, Fall 2007.] ]

O

* Maureen O'Hara: the film actress was listed as dead on the Internet Movie Database in 1998, apparently due to confusion with Maureen O'Sullivan. [ [http://dpsinfo.com/dps/rumors.html Dead People Server] ]
* Hiroo Onoda: this Japanese soldier survived for decades in the Philippines jungle, believing that World War II had not ended. Onoda, with three other soldiers who accompanied him for some years, continued to fight the war, killing many local Filipinos. Though numerous attempts were made ("e.g.", by leaving leaflets) to persuade them that the war was over, every such effort was regarded as an enemy trick. Onoda - who was officially declared dead in 1959 - only gave himself up in 1974 when his commanding officer, who had long since retired from the military and become a bookseller, was sent to the island to order Onoda to surrender. He returned to Japan a national hero, and wrote a book "No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War". [For references see Hiroo Onoda]
* Oran, a sixth-century monk on Iona: having presumably been declared dead, he was buried, but was dug up again the following day and found to be alive. He is said to have subsequently been re-buried for heresy when he claimed that after his first burial he had seen heaven and hell. [http://www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/buried.asp "Just dying to get out"] , Snopes.com]
* Sharon Osbourne: in October 2004, a draft obituary of rock star Ozzy Osbourne's wife was accidentally published on the ABC News web site due to a technical error. [ [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/gate/archive/2004/10/12/ddish.DTL "Osbourne obituary mistake"] , "San Francisco Chronicle" web site, October 12, 2004.]

P

* Valentin Paniagua (former Peruvian president): was reported dead by congressman Victor Andres Garcia Belaunde during a speech been made by Peru's Prime Minister Jorge Del Castillo to the Peruvian Congress in August 2006. 15 minutes later, Paniagua's attending physician announced that the former president had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit but was alive and recovering. [ [http://www.livinginperu.com/news/2345 "False announcement of Peruvian ex-President's death interrupts plenary session"] , "Living in Peru", August 24 2006.]
* Eduardo Paolozzi: the artist's death was incorrectly reported in a magazine when he suffered a near-fatal stroke in 2001. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article384305.ece "Sir Eduardo Paolozzi"] , "The Times", 23 April 2005.]
* John Partridge, an astrologer whose death Jonathan Swift (writing under a pseudonym) 'predicted' in a 1708 hoax almanac and later 'confirmed', prompting numerous anti-Partridge newspaper obituaries. (See also Titan Leeds.) ["The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature", Oxford University Press, 2003.]
* Sidney Patrick: an American who was allegedly taken on board a UFO in 1965, he was incorrectly said to be dead by ufologist Timothy Good in his 1996 book "Beyond Top Secret". Good corrected the mistake in a subsequent book. [Good, T.: "Need to know: UFOs, the military and intelligence" p.251, Sidgwick & Jackson, 2006.]
* Natalya Pavlova: this Lithuanian 27-year-old went missing in November 2007, and was declared dead a few weeks later when a body found in a forest was identified by her parents as hers. However, in January 2008 she turned up alive when she was arrested for shoplifting in the city of Klaipeda. It turned out that she had been living there with her boyfriend. It was not known who the dead woman was. [ [http://uk.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUKL1610505620080116 "Lithuanian police ask suspect: aren't you dead?"] , Reuters, 16 January, 2008.]
* Vuk Peric: a Serbian pensioner who put his own death notice in the newspaper in 1997 to see who would turn up to his funeral. After watching the funeral from a distance, he revealed himself and thanked everyone for attending. ["Serbian who faked his own funeral now selling his grave", Ananova, November 8, 2002, cited in [http://www.leonardrossiter.com/reginaldperrin/Real.html Reggie Online] .]
* Jim Pierce: this resident of Smackover, Arkansas was thought to have died in 1926 when a body identified as his by over 50 people was found in an empty railroad oil tank car. His son took the corpse back to Texas for burial, but was met there by Jim Pierce, very much alive. It was not clear who the dead man was. [ [http://www.tituscemeteries.com/historicnews01.html "Man thought to be dead appears before the corpse is buried"] , "Mount Pleasant Daily Times", April 20, 1926, cited on TitusCemeteries.com.]
* Samy Pillai: a Malaysian man who was certified dead in June 2005 after his wrecked motorcycle was found near an unidentifiable body. In March 2007 it was discovered that he had in fact survived the accident when he was found 300 km away, partly paralysed and unable to speak; his identity was confirmed by thumbprints. It was not known what he had been doing in the intervening two years. [ [http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/articlenews.aspx?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyid=2007-03-19T043606Z_01_KLR26035_RTRIDST_0_OUKOE-UK-MALAYSIA-REUNION.XML&src=rss "'Dead' Malaysian returns home after two years"] , Reuters, March 19, 2007.]
* Harold Pinter: on 13 October 2005 the newsreader on Sky News, apparently relaying information she was having difficulty hearing on her earpiece, announced that the writer had died. (She also mispronounced his name, and described him as a 'play writer'.) She rapidly corrected this to report that in fact he had won the Nobel Prize for literature. [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/10/13/news/nobel.php Lyall, S.: "Pinter awarded Nobel"] , "International Herald Tribune", October 14, 2005.]
* Perry Pirkanen was one of four actors who the Italian police believed had been murdered in the making of the 1980 horror film "Cannibal Holocaust". So realistic was the film that shortly after it was released its director Ruggero Deodato was arrested for murder. The actors had signed contracts to stay out of the media for a year in order to fuel rumours that the film was a snuff movie. The court was only convinced that they were alive when the contracts were cancelled and the actors appeared on a television show as proof.Ruggero Deodato (interviewee), "In the Jungle: The Making of Cannibal Holocaust", Alan Young Pictures, Italy, 2003.] Ruggero Deodato, interview with Sage Stallone and Bob Murawski, "Cult-Con 2000", Cannibal Holocaust DVD Commentary, Tarrytown, New York, 2000.]
* Pornographic film actors, due to limited amounts of personal information being released to the public and their tendency to disappear into "civilian" life after retirement, are often the subjects of false-death rumors both in the media and among fans. The Usenet newsgroup, Rec.arts.movies.erotica established a "Dead Porn Stars" website [ [http://www.rame.net/faq/deadporn/ RAME FAQ: Dead Porn Stars] , accessed Sept. 2, 2008; still being updated as recently as 2007] that attempts to confirm true and false reports of deaths within the porn film community.
* Velupillai Prabhakaran: the Tamil Tiger leader was reported by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation as being among the dead or missing in the December 2004 tsunami. This was taken by many to suggest that he was specifically dead. The corporation later retracted the report. [ [http://news.indiainfo.com/2005/01/09/0901lanka.html "Sri Lanka radio retracts report about Prabhakaran"] , Indiainfo.com, January 9, 2005.]

Q

* Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother's death was erroneously announced in the Australian media in 1993 after a London-based Sky News employee saw an internal rehearsal for her future death (one of many conducted by the UK media over the years). Thinking it was for real, he phoned his mother in Australia with the 'news', who passed it on to the media. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/queenmother/article/0,,677156,00.html Ezard, J.: "A life of legend, duty and devotion"] , "The Guardian", April 1, 2002.] The time zone difference may have made it difficult for the Australian media to check the story during UK night-time. The employee was sacked for the mistake, but then won a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal. (Fragments of the Queen Mother's life history also appeared in several other world figures' premature obituaries in the CNN.com incident.)

R

* Ronald Reagan (former US President), in the CNN.com incident. CNN also included fragments of Reagan's life history in a premature obituary of Fidel Castro in the same incident.
* Daniel Reddout, 17-year-old resident of Rochester, Minnesota, whose death notice was published in the "Waterloo Cedar-Falls Courier" in December 2005 saying he had died after surgery. Police investigated after Reddout was spotted in a local restaurant a week later. The boy's mother offered a curious explanation: "I had let my boyfriend know he was doing very, very badly at the hospital, and jokingly I said that he had passed away, and he took upon himself to put the obituary in". The obituary requested memorial payments to be made to the family; police suspected fraud. [ [http://www.regrettheerror.com/2006/01/paper_runs_fals.html "Paper runs false obit mentioning wrong hospital and fake cemetery"] , RegretTheError.com, January 9, 2006.]
* Lou Reed (musician), by numerous US radio stations in 2001, caused by a hoax email (purporting to be from Reuters) which said he had died of an overdose. [ [http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/day/05_09_2001.html "Death of Lou Reed"] , Museum of Hoaxes web site]
* Trent Reznor (musician): in 1989, a Michigan farmer found a Super 8 film camera containing footage of a man apparently lying dead in a street. Local police thought it depicted a gang killing. In fact the footage was of Reznor, intended for the music video for his band Nine Inch Nails' song "Down in It"; during filming in Chicago, a weather balloon carrying the camera had broken loose and flown away. The police could not identify the "body" shown in the footage, and involved the FBI. After a year of investigation, police leafleted schools about the case, and an art student recognized the body as Reznor, who was alive and performing. [ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gV8yQc0m7g Segment] on "Hard Copy", March 5, 1991.] [ [http://www.obsolete.com/convulsion/interviews/convulse/1.5.html Bains, J.: "Nine Inch Nails"] , "Convulsion Magazine", 1991.]
* Adam Rich: the television actor was reported to have been murdered in a 1996 tribute issue of "Might" magazine. It was all an elaborate hoax by the magazine's editor Dave Eggers in collusion with Rich, and was intended to satirize the media exploitation of stars who die young. [ [http://www.salon.com/media/media960506.html Eggers, D.: "He's hot, he's sexy, but he isn't dead"] , Salon.com] [Eggers, D.: "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius", Simon and Schuster, 2000.]
* Amnon Rubinstein, Israeli academic and retired politician, whose death was announced in 1999 by Knesset (parliamentary) speaker Avraham Burg following a hoax telephone call. Rubinstein was in hospital at the time for a minor complaint. [ [http://www.stiffs.com/backjul99.html "Israeli parliament fooled by false death notice"] , Stiffs.com, July 29, 1999.]
* Bertrand Russell: the philosopher was reported dead in the Japanese press in 1920 when he was suffering from pneumonia. [ [http://www.edinformatics.com/great_thinkers/russell.htm "Bertrand Russell"] , edinformatics.com] Some sources say the reports were a deliberate form of revenge by Japanese journalists who Russell had refused to meet due to his illness. His supposed death may also have been reported in "The Times". (It is also sometimes said that by way of apology, "The Times" allowed Russell to pre-write his own obituary for publication on his actual death. But the obituary [ [http://www.aam314.vzz.net/Russell.html Obituary of Bertrand Russell] , "The Times", February 1970.] does not read as if it could be by him; the confusion may be that in 1937 he wrote an imaginary "Times" obituary for his own entertainment, which is briefly quoted at the end of his obituary in the "New York Times" [ [http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/04/29/specials/russell-obit.html Whitman, A.: "Bertrand Russell is dead"] , "New York Times", February 3, 1970.] .)

* Jimmy Savile (broadcaster) in 1994, when then-DJ Chris Morris announced on BBC Radio 1 (as a joke) that he had collapsed and died. Savile began legal action against Morris. (See also Michael Heseltine.) [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1460463.stm Walker, A.: "Chris Morris: Brass Neck"] , BBC News web site, July 27, 2001.]
* Terri Schiavo: a draft of the brain damaged patient's obituary appeared briefly on CBS's web site in advance of her death. [ [http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=43558 "Terri's 'death' mistakenly reported by CBS News"] , WorldNetDaily, March 30, 2005 (includes excerpts from and link to the obituary).]
* Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (historian): his death was referred to in the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" on November 29, 2005. The newspaper retracted the reference on December 2, saying, "We are embarrassed but happy for Mr Schlesinger." ["Pittsburgh Post-Gazette", November 29, 2005 and December 2, 2005.]
* Alex Schwab, proprietor of the Saltwood Miniature Railway, read his own obituary in 1971 in "Model Engineer" magazine, which was apparently prompted by rumours surrounding his declining mental and physical health. In fact he recovered and lived until 1987. [ [http://www.angelfire.com/magic/saltwood/alex.html Biography on Saltwood Miniature Railway site] ]
* Reverend Schwartz (missionary) was found to be alive when singing was heard emerging from his coffin at his funeral. He had joined in when he heard his favourite hymn being sung. [http://www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/buried.asp "Just dying to get out"] , Snopes.com]
* James Ford Seale, who took part in the 1964 Ku Klux Klan murder of two black hitchhikers in Mississippi, was found not far away in 2005 - despite newspapers including "The Clarion-Ledger" having reported him dead, apparently because Seale's family had said he was. Seale was located by the brother of one of the victims, and was convicted in 2007, having previously had all charges dropped when the case was originally investigated. [ [http://www.clarionledger.com/crimes/moore1-14.html Mitchell, J.: "'66 Klan slaying not only killing on federal property"] , "The Clarion-Ledger", January 14, 2000.] [ [http://www.blackamericaweb.com/site.aspx/bawnews/seale125 "White former deputy thought to be dead charged in 43-year-old murder of two black men"] , Associated Press, January 25, 2007.]
* Katharine Sergava ("Oklahoma!" actress & dancer), whose obituary was published in 2003 in the "Daily Telegraph" and a few days later in the "New York Times". The latter newspaper blamed the former for the mistake. [ [http://obituaryforum.blogspot.com/2005_12_01_archive.html "Hoofer Sergava finally dead?"] , Obituary Forum, December 6, 2005.]
* Hasan Shalhoub: in 2006, this Lebanese four-year-old suffered apparently fatal head injuries in an Israeli attack. Presumably having been declared dead, he was placed in a makeshift morgue overnight. "In the morning I woke up. I started talking to a little girl next to me, but she turned out to be dead. Then I asked for my mother." [ [http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/EC9D9CB4-1978-43E1-A91C-4EBB1F77AA3D.htm Synopsis of "Children of Conflict" (television series)] , Al Jazeera, February 10, 2007.]
* Sinbad: on March 14, 2007 the American actor and comedian's biography on Wikipedia was altered (presumably as a hoax) to say that he had died of a heart attack that morning. Though this was corrected about an hour later, Sinbad subsequently received numerous enquiries as to his well-being. The incident was widely reported by Associated Press. [ [http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070316/ap_en_ce/people_sinbad Kennedy, K.: "Wikipedia falsely reports Sinbad's death"] , Yahoo News, March 16, 2007.]
* Richard Paul Smith, 21-year-old resident of Norristown, Pennsylvania, who was reported by the "Norristown Times Herald" as having been killed in a hit-and-run accident in October 2006, after confusion with another Richard Smith. [ [http://www.regrettheerror.com/2006/11/another_death_b.html "Another death by media"] , RegretTheError.com, November 2, 2006.]
* Cardinal Somaglia: in 1837, the cardinal apparently died, and having presumably been declared dead, embalming was immediately begun. However, when his chest was cut open as part of the embalming procedure, his heart was found to be still beating; the cardinal then awoke and pushed the knife away. He died shortly afterwards, apparently as a result of being cut open. [http://www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/buried.asp "Just dying to get out"] , Snopes.com]
* Britney Spears and boyfriend Justin Timberlake (musicians) were reported to have died in a car crash by two Texas DJs as a joke in 2001. The radio station (KEGL) was sued and the DJs were fired. The car crash story is thought to have originated as a rumour on the Internet. [ [http://archives.cnn.com/2001/SHOWBIZ/Music/06/13/spears.rumor/index.html "Britney Spears death rumor travels around world"] , CNN, June 13, 2001.]
* Ron Stone: in July 2007, this Briton was sent a letter by the Inland Revenue (tax authorities) stating that he was dead, but might be due a tax repayment. It was reported following news that the Inland Revenue would be seeking to recover unpaid tax without recourse to the courts, despite significant numbers of Inland Revenue tax errors. [PM, BBC Radio 4, 6 July, 2007.]
* John Stonehouse MP: in 1974 the British politician faked his own suicide (by drowning in Miami) in order to escape financial difficulties and marry his mistress. He was subsequently discovered in Australia - where initially police thought he might be Lord Lucan - and imprisoned. [ [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20051229/ai_n15983974 Milmo C.: "The man who faked his death"] , "The Independent", December 29, 2005.]
* Kevin Stoney: in 1986, the British science fiction magazine "Dreamwatch" incorrectly reported the death of the actor, who had played several villain roles in "Doctor Who". He was reportedly 'touched' by the fanzine's obituary.
* Red Storey: the Canadian football player and ice hockey referee was reported dead by a Montreal radio station in the 1970s when a "Montreal Star" employee misheard another saying "Red's story is dead" (referring to sports editor Red Fisher). The employee told his wife, who phoned the radio station - which then broadcast the 'news' without checking it. [ [http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/sports/story.html?id=c1d69eaa-c803-42ec-8aaf-bc3a8015951b&p=2 Fisher, R.: "Storey a man of talents and tales"] , "Montreal Gazette", March 16, 2006.]
* Dave Swarbrick: the folk musician's obituary was published in the "Daily Telegraph" in April 1999 after he was admitted to hospital with a chest infection, prompting the quip: "It's not the first time I have died in Coventry." [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/324097.stm "Paper kills off musician by mistake"] , BBC News web site, April 20, 1999.]

T

* Margaret Thatcher: in 2005, Sky News flashed a 'breaking news' banner announcing that the British former Prime Minister had died. This was corrected shortly afterwards to say that she had merely been taken to hospital after feeling faint. [ [http://www.onlinearsenal.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6726 Discussion on OnlineArsenal] ]
* Justin Timberlake: see Britney Spears.
* Donald Walter Trautman (Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania) was reported dead in the April 4, 2007 edition of the Vatican newspaper "L'Osservatore Romano"; in fact it was his predecessor Bishop Michael Murphy who had just died. "I told people that there was an early resurrection," Trautman said. "The Tablet" printed a cartoon about the incident, depicting one angel at a reception desk telling another: "Bishop Trautman's just e-mailed us with a cancellation." [cite news| last=Bruce| first=David | title=Report of bishop's death a whopper| date=2007-06-03| publisher=Erie Times-News| accessdate=2007-12-08| url=http://www.goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070603/LIFESTYLES07/706030414&SearchID=73285866207720]
* Stephanie Tubbs Jones: The Cleveland, Ohio, congresswoman was incorrectly reported as having died August 20, 2008 after suffering an aneurysm. The report prompted an official statement from John Kerry mourning her passing. Tubbs Jones did however, die later that day. [ [http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080820/ap_on_el_ge/congresswoman_hospitalized US Rep. Tubbs Jones of Ohio dies after hemorrhage] from Yahoo News]
* Mark Twain: on two occasions the writer was incorrectly feared dead. Though only the second case counts as a premature obituary, the first is often erroneously cited as the most famous case of one:
#In 1897 a journalist was sent to enquire after Twain's health, thinking he was near to death; in fact it was his cousin who was very ill. Though (contrary to popular belief) no obituary was published, Twain recounted the event in the "New York Journal" of June 2, 1897, including his famous words "The report of my death is an exaggeration" (which is usually misquoted, e.g. as "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated", or "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated"). [ [http://www.twainquotes.com/interviews/interviewindex2006b.html "Comprehensive publication list of known interviews with... Mark Twain"] , TwainQuotes.com] [Powers, R.: "Mark Twain: A Life". Free Press, New York. 2005.] [ [http://www.snopes.com/quotes/twain.asp "And never the Twain shall tweet"] , Snopes.com]
#On May 4, 1907, when people lost track of a yacht he was travelling on, the "New York Times" published an article saying he might have been lost at sea. [, "New York Times", May 4, 1907.] In fact, the yacht had been held up by fog, and Twain had disembarked. Twain read the article, and cleared up the story by writing a humorous account in the "New York Times" the following day. [, "New York Times", May 5, 1907.] [ [http://www.twainquotes.com/TwainRogersVA.html#marooned Schmidt, B.: "Mark Twain and Henry Huttleston Rogers in Virginia"] , TwainQuotes.com (a full account of the incident, with newspaper reports).]

U

* Ishinosuke Uwano: in April 2006 this Japanese soldier, missing since World War II, was found to be living in Ukraine aged 83, where he had married and had a family. He had been officially declared dead in 2000. At the end of the war he had remained in the Soviet Union for unknown reasons; he said the Soviet government subsequently prevented him contacting his Japanese relatives. Following his discovery he visited Japan for the first time in over 60 years; he could remember little of Japan and had even largely forgotten how to speak Japanese. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4921396.stm "Missing WWII vet returns to Japan"] , BBC News, April 18, 2006.]

V

* Paul Vance, composer of the song "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini", was reported dead in September 2006 by Associated Press, followed by the rest of the media. The reports even caused racehorses owned by Vance to be scratched from races. In fact the dead man was a former salesman and painting contractor called Paul Van Valkenburgh, who had told his wife he had written the song many years earlier under the stage name Paul Vance. The impostor's widow maintained that she wasn't certain whether it was Vance or her husband who had really written the song, though she would not pursue Vance for her husband's royalties. [ [http://www.regrettheerror.com/wire-service/itsy-bitsy-not-so-teenie-error "Itsy Bitsy Not So Teenie error"] , RegretTheError.com, September 28, 2006.] [ [http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2006/9/28/121627.shtml "'Itsy Bitsy' Bikini Songwriter Reads His Own Obituary"] , Newsmax.com, September 28, 2006.]
* Amir Vehabovic: this Bosnian man faked his own death - including having a death certificate forged, and bribing undertakers - in order to see who would turn up to his funeral. However, only his elderly mother attended. He wrote to 45 people who had been invited, saying: "I really thought a lot more of you, my so-called friends, would turn up to pay their last respects. It just goes to show who you can really count on." [ [http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/2/story.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10430002 "Bosnian man fakes own death to test popularity"] , "New Zealand Herald", March 21, 2007.]
* Edison Vicuna, an Ecuadorian man who, after going missing for three days in 2002, was thought to have died in a car crash when a disfigured body was misidentified as his. Vicuna showed up to his own funeral, drunk; mourners screamed and fainted. ["Man shows up at his own funeral", Ananova, October 15, 2002, cited on [http://www.leonardrossiter.com/reginaldperrin/Real.html Reggie Online] ]
* Abe Vigoda (actor): in 1982, "People" magazine referred to him as 'the late Abe Vigoda'. He then posed for a photograph showing him sitting up in a coffin, holding the magazine in question. Vigoda claims that during the 1980s the widespread belief that he was dead cost him work. [ [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001820/bio Abe Vigoda's biography on Internet Music Database] ] Erroneous reports of Vigoda's death have become something of a running joke, such as in television sketches. An unofficial web site, [http://www.abevigoda.com abevigoda.com] , continuously provides Vigoda's 'current status' (alive or dead) to avoid doubt in future.

W

* Matthew Wall: having presumably been declared dead, this 16th-century resident of Braughing, UK, was revived when a pallbearer dropped his coffin on the way to his funeral. His 'resurrection' is still celebrated each year in the Hertfordshire village. [http://www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/buried.asp "Just dying to get out"] , Snopes.com]
* Elsie Waring: in 1963, this 35-year-old was certified dead by three doctors at Willesden General Hospital, London. Several hours later she gasped and started breathing while being lifted into her coffin. [Pile, S.: "The Book of Heroic Failures", Routledge Kegan & Paul, 1979.]
* Kate Webb: in 1971 the journalist was part of a group captured in the Cambodian jungle by North Vietnamese troops. Official reports claimed that a body that had been found and cremated was hers, and a box of bones said to be hers was delivered to Reuters. The "New York Times" published an obituary. ["A Masked Toughness", "New York Times", 21 April 1971.] She emerged from captivity over three weeks later, having endured forced marches, interrogations, and two strains of malaria. [ [http://news.independent.co.uk/people/obituaries/article2542387.ece Fathers, M.: "Kate Webb"] (obituary upon her actual death), "The Independent", 15 May 2007.]
* Harry S. Weed, the inventor of Weed non-skid tire chains, was reported dead in numerous publications (including "TIME" magazine and the "New York Herald Tribune") in 1927 after a reporter for the Jackson, Michigan "Citizen Patriot" wrote that the recently-deceased Mrs Alice Weed from Jackson had been the inventor's widow. It later emerged that Alice Weed was no relation, and that both the inventor and his wife were alive and well. [ [http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,737013,00.html "Greatly Exaggerated"] , "TIME" magazine, November 14, 1927]
* Alan Whicker (journalist), while reporting on the Korean war. He was flying with an aerial spotter in a Piper Aztec airplane behind enemy lines, as part of a story. Though his plane landed safely, a similar craft was shot down on the same day, and was assumed to be Whicker's plane. The resulting newspaper obituary commented on his lack of achievement (Whicker then being far less well-known than he is now). [ [http://www.bfi.org.uk/features/interviews/whicker.html Alan Whicker interview with Michael Parkinson] , British Film Institute, September 30, 2002.]
* James McNeill Whistler: the artist was reported dead by a Dutch newspaper following a heart attack. Whistler wrote to the newspaper, saying that reading his own obituary induced a "tender glow of health." [ [http://www.artinthepicture.com/artists/James_Abbott_McNeill_Whistler/biography.html Whistler biography on ArtInThePicture.com] ]
* Slim Whitman: the country singer was reported dead in January 2008 by a radio DJ and by the "Nashville Tennessean"'s website, apparently sparked by rumours he had died. "It seems like every 10 years something weird happens like that", he said; in a previous strange incident, a song of Whitman's was used to repel invading aliens in the film "Mars Attacks!" [ [http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200880123065 Zetler, L.: "Slim Whitman talks about reports of his death"] , "The Tennessean", January 23, 2008. ]
* Philip Williams: in June 1982, this British soldier was knocked unconscious by an explosion during the Battle of Mount Tumbledown in the Falklands War, and left for dead. When he came to, the rest of the British soldiers had gone. Williams' parents were informed of his 'death' and a memorial service held for him. It took him nearly two months to find his way back to civilisation, braving extreme weather. He was then criticized by the media and fellow soldiers, who accused him of desertion. [Philip Williams and M.S. Power: "Summer Soldier", Bloomsbury, 1991. [http://www.britains-smallwars.com/swbooks/Summer-Soldier.html (cover notes)] ]
* Ken Williamson, an Olympic track-and-field judge, collapsed outside Madison Square Garden in 2004 from a heart attack, and was said by officials and a colleague to have died. However, he was revived with a defibrillator and taken to hospital. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9902E2D6163AF93AA35751C0A9629C8B63 "Thought to be dead, official is revived"] , "New York Times", February 9, 2004.]
* Edward Osborne Wilson (biologist and environmentalist), listed as dead in a 2005 "San Francisco Chronicle" article. [ [http://dpsinfo.com/dps/rumors.html Dead People Server] ]
* Mara Wilson (actress) was listed as dead on the Internet Movie Database in 2000, with the cause being "broken neck". [ [http://www.marawilson.com/oldsite/i_death.html Mara Wilson official web site] ]
* Heinz Wolff (scientist and British TV personality). "The Sun" wrongly reported his death when another Professor Heinz Wolff died. He said that they had sometimes been confused before, but not in this macabre way.

Y

* Paltan Yadav was officially declared dead in 1980 by relatives in order to steal his land in Uttar Pradesh, India. Rendered penniless and unable to afford to marry, he became a holy man. After years of legal delays, his 'death' was only annulled in 1999 after intervention by the Association of the Dead, an organisation that protests such cases. (See also Lal Bihari.) [ [http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/images/nation.htm#9 "'Dead' to come alive against Vajpayee"] , "The Tribune", July 24, 1999.] [ [http://www.time.com/time/asia/asia/magazine/1999/990719/souls1.html Fathers, M.: "Plight of the living dead"] , "TIME" magazine (Asia), 19 July 1999.]
* Shoichi Yokoi: trapped on Guam when U.S. troops recaptured it near the end of World War II, this Japanese soldier lived in an underground cave in the jungle until 1972, believing that the war had not ended and that leaflets reporting Japan's surrender were enemy propaganda. He had been reported killed in action. On his return home, Yokoi was treated as a national hero for his extreme tenacity and loyalty. However, he felt he had not served the Emperor and army adequately, saying "It is with much embarrassment that I have returned alive" - which instantly became a popular saying in Japan. Yokoi's experiences enabled him to become a television commentator on survival skills. His discovery also prompted a search for other missing Japanese soldiers such as Hiroo Onoda. [ [http://www.wanpela.com/holdouts/profiles/yokoi/obituary.html Herskovitz, J.: "Japanese WWII Soldier Who Hid for Decades Dies"] , Reuters, September 23, 1997.]
* Carl Gabriel Yorke was one of four actors who the Italian police believed had been murdered in the making of the 1980 horror film "Cannibal Holocaust". So realistic was the film that shortly after it was released its director Ruggero Deodato was arrested for murder. The actors had signed contracts to stay out of the media for a year in order to fuel rumours that the film was a snuff movie. The court was only convinced that they were alive when the contracts were cancelled and the actors appeared on a television show as proof.Ruggero Deodato (interviewee), "In the Jungle: The Making of Cannibal Holocaust", Alan Young Pictures, Italy, 2003.] Ruggero Deodato, interview with Sage Stallone and Bob Murawski, "Cult-Con 2000", Cannibal Holocaust DVD Commentary, Tarrytown, New York, 2000.]

The CNN.com incident

Multiple premature obituaries came to light on April 16, 2003, when it was discovered that pre-written draft memorials to several world figures were available on the development area of the CNN website without requiring a password (and may have been accessible for some time before). [ [http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/cnnobit1.html CNN incident page] , TheSmokingGun.com (includes all the obituaries).] The pages included tributes to Fidel Castro, Dick Cheney, Nelson Mandela, Bob Hope, Gerald Ford, Pope John Paul II, and Ronald Reagan.

Some of these obituaries contained fragments taken from others, particularly from Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother's obituary, which had apparently been used as a template. Dick Cheney for example was described as the 'UK's favorite grandmother', the site noted the Pope's 'love of racing', and described Castro as 'lifeguard, athlete, movie star' (a reference to Ronald Reagan). Though the Queen Mother was already dead, in an unrelated incident she had previously received a premature obituary of her own (see above).

References

ee also

* Obituary
* Pseudocide - the faking of one's own death
* Premature burial
* Death in absentia

External links

* [http://dpsinfo.com/dps/index.html#top Dead People Server] - database of dead celebrities; includes list of people incorrectly rumoured to be dead
* [http://www.deadoraliveinfo.com/ Dead or Alive] - allows you to check whether famous people of all kinds are dead or alive
* [http://www.regrettheerror.com Regret the Error] - reports media errors of all kinds, especially in North America
* [http://www.snopes.com Snopes] - urban legends, including people rumoured to be dead
* [http://www.leonardrossiter.com/reginaldperrin/Real.html Reggie Online] - people who have faked their own deaths (or otherwise turned out to be unexpectedly alive)
* [http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/cnnobit1.html Smoking Gun page about the CNN incident]


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