On January 2, 1980 the New York Times
announced the death of Alan Abel on its obituary page. It provided a flattering account of his career. The obituary read, in part:
Alan Abel, a writer, musician and film producer who specialized in satire and lampoons, died of a heart attack yesterday at Sundance, a ski resort near Orem, Utah, while investigating a location for a new film. He was 50 years old and lived in Manhattan and Westport, Conn.
Mr. Abel, a graduate of Ohio State University with majors in music and speech, made a point in his work of challenging the obvious and uttering the outrageous. He gained national recognition several years ago when he mounted a campaign for animal decency, demanding that horses and dogs, for example, be fitted with underwear.
Unfortunately for the Times
, Abel was not dead. The Times
learned this when Abel held a press conference the next day in which he revealed that the news of his death was a hoax engineered by himself and a team of twelve accomplices. It is reported that the editor of the Times was so mad at the deception, that he vowed to never print Abel's name again. This was a vow the editor was unable to keep.