Elizabeth Taylor died Wednesday morning, but the writer of the obituary the New York Times published celebrating the film star died six years ago.

Mel Gussow, a New York Times theater critic and cultural reporter, wrote more than 4,000 items for the Gray Lady during his 35 years of service. Before he died of cancer in 2005 at age 71, he wrote Taylor’s obituary.

Why not rewrite Taylor’s near 4,000-word obit? New York Times obituary editor Bill McDonald told the Wall Street Journal that Gussow’s work was “too good to throw away.” The practice of having obituaries “in the can” in preparation for ailing or aged figures is nothing new.

-The Los Angeles Times { Tony Pierce }

thread on Newspaper, New York Times front page © Christine Da Cruz 2011

 

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