Thursday, March 24, 2011

Front Page Obituaries

It amazed me to see this large, beautiful picture of Elizabeth Taylor on the front page of the New York Times today announcing her death. She was a great movie star but what makes her deserving of a front page obituary? Have you ever wondered how the Times decides who gets a front page obituary and doesn't? I have often. What, according to the Times, makes a recently deceased person worthy of inclusion on the greatest front page in the world? Could be a fun game. Name ten people, preferably of advanced age, and decide if they are front page material or not. Write this all down. If you get all 10 right, you receive a million dollars, something like that. An even better game, of course, is to name 10 dead people and to decide whether they were front page material. Person naming the most wins a million dollars, something like that. Wait a second. Am I on to something? Could the Front Page Game be a big seller? Let me know what you think. In the meantime, here are 10 living people. How many will enjoy front page obituaries?

Martin Scorsese
Philip Roth
Roy Lichtenstein
Yo-Yo Ma
Stephen Sondheim
Tony Blair
Vanessa Redgrave
Barbara Boxer
The Dalai Lama
Warren Buffett

I think there is a chance that all these folks will make it to the front page. Least likely to? Probably Lichtenstein, Redgrave, and Boxer. Interestingly, Boxer's status is especially time sensitive. If she dies, say, ten years after serving as senator from California, she might not make it. If she dies now, she probably will. Time sensitivity may also affect somebody like Yo-Yo Ma, if he stops playing or even Philip Roth. Most likely to make it: Tony Blair, The Dalai Lama, and probably Warren Buffett.

Okay, now the fun begins with dead people. Which of the following actually had obituaries on the front page of the New York Times:

J.P. Morgan
Wild Bill Hickok
Tris Speaker
Harry Houdini
Dean Rusk
Claudette Colbert
Howard Hawks
Piet Mondrian
Robert LaFollette
Marvin Gaye

No comments:

Post a Comment