Ever get the feeling that vultures are circling your head? That’s surely how Kirk Douglas, who is very much alive, feels after People Magazine mistakenly printed the obituary they have prepared for him.
Under the title, “DO NOT PUB Kirk Douglas Dies,” People’s Stephen M. Silverman wrote,
Kirk Douglas, one of the few genuine box-office names to emerge just as TV was overtaking American culture in the years right after World War II, died TK TK TK. He was 97 (DOB 12/9/1916) and had been in good health despite having suffered a debilitating 1996 stroke that rendered his speech difficult.
“TK,” is an abbreviation for “to come” in the journalism world.
People isn’t sure quite how Douglas will die, or when, but they’re more than ready when he does. This is not abnormal: many publications work up obituaries for famous people in advance, as the Huffington Post notes. Actually publishing them, however, is a different story.
After Douglas’ obituary began circulating on social media, the publication removed that particular entry. The obituary highlights Douglas’ career. Douglas will be turning 98 on December 9 and, last week, he told Entertainment Tonight that he wanted to live to be 100 — In other words, if he has his way, People will be waiting a long while to publish that piece for real.
The timestamp on the article shows that it was written September 29, 2014, but it is unclear when it was actually published. This error puts Douglas in a unique position: How many people get to find out what others will say about them after they die?
People Magazine, and publications in general, have a long history of accidentally declaring people dead. In 1982, People famously announced the death of “Barney Miller” star, “the late Abe Vigoda.” In 1987, the New York Journal mistakenly declared the death of Mark Twain, leading to the famous joke, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”
Douglas has not yet spoken out about his own death, but it is sure to be hilarious when he does.