Elizabeth Taylor’s Obituary Written by Dead ‘NY Times’ Writer

As is customary with high-profile personalities, The New York Times already had Elizabeth Taylor’s 4,000 word obituary written and ready to go when news of her death broke this morning. But strangely enough, the 35-year veteran Times writer who composed the piece, Mel Gussow, actually passed away six years ago at the age of 71 from bone cancer. Still, the Times’ obit editor Bill McDonald says that the article was just “too good to throw away.”

Gussow’s piece had been finished for over five years, and when the Times published it today, the obit was tagged with the note, “Mel Gussow, the principal writer of this article, died in 2005. Peter Keepnews contributed updated reporting.”

Another major celebrity to get the pre-death obituary treatment in recent years was Britney Spears, who scored an AP write up in 2008, at the peak of her very messy public meltdown. The latest is — of course — Charlie Sheen. Earlier this month, a CBS insider told Pop Eater, “No one is wishing the worst but as a news organization for us not to be prepared for one of the biggest stories in a long time would be unprofessional.”

Can’t argue with that.

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