It’s the stuff of journalistic nightmares – publishing an already-written obituary before the person in question has died.
It’s not uncommon for news services to pre-write obituaries, and all too easy to accidentally hit the publish button. People.com were on the receiving end of such an unfortunate gaffe this weekend, after the US website unintentionally published an article about the death of Kirk Douglas. Its headline read: "DO NOT PUB Kirk Douglas Dies".
The actor celebrates his 98th birthday later this month on 9 December.
People’s story detailed his many accomplishments, documenting his "humble beginnings" and subsequent 75 films.
"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," read the piece. 'TK' is journalistic shorthand for 'to come'.
"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."
The date stamp read 29 September, but it is unclear as to whether the piece has been online for two months or whether it was simply created on that date.
The obituary has since been removed, but was picked by several Twitter users.
I hope that Kirk Douglas, like the rest of us, is reading his DO NOT PUB obituary in People. http://t.co/iXdPySRM4y; Ivor Tossell (@ivortossell) December 1, 2014
During his career, the actor has been nominated for three Oscars for Lust for Life, The Bad and the Beautiful and Champion, although has never won. He was presented with a honorary Academy Award by Steven Spielberg in 1996.Reuse content