Mark Twain (New York Public Library Digital Gallery)

Premature Eradication: How the Media Kills Off Living Celebs

World leaders, acclaimed authors and celebrated philosophers have all survived death sentences. Some victims shrug off the grim news with self-deprecation, others seize the chance for renewed attention, still others grieve over their prospective legacy. Aside from sloppy reporting, causes for the gaffes include mistaken identity, hoaxes, a near miss with death and the demise of an imposter.

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