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Alan Abel Has Died, For Real This Time


We are now sorry to report that Alan Abel is dead, and we are fairly certain that this time the news of Alan Abel's death is true.


Abel was a man who made a name for himself as a satirist and a prankster. One of his most notable pranks came in 1980, when he persuaded The New York Times to report his death.

MARTIN: He then showed up alive and held a press conference. The Times issued a retraction. But this week, the paper published a new obituary.

INSKEEP: Which says that Abel was born 94 years ago in Ohio. He served as a percussionist in the Army Air Forces Band during the Second World War. Later, he became a comedian and then a prankster who once said he hoped to give people a kick in the intellect.

MARTIN: One hoax was the 1964 presidential campaign of Yetta Bronstein. Jeanne Abel, Alan's wife, played Yetta, a grandmother from the Bronx. They managed to get some media attention. Yetta even appeared on the radio...


JEANNE ABEL: (As Yetta, singing) There'll be a change, there'll be a change in government when Yetta gets to be first lady.

INSKEEP: ...Singing. The Abels remembered their fake campaign when talking with StoryCorps in 2011.


ALAN ABEL: We had followers go down to Atlantic City, where they had the Democratic convention, and we were marching up and down with about 20 people with our sign, vote for Yetta and things will get better.

J. ABEL: Clean sweep with Yetta. I was on a broomstick with a broom.

A. ABEL: And then why not? That's all. Why not, question mark. Nothing more on the placard.

INSKEEP: (Laughter).

MARTIN: Abel once told the program Snap Judgment that he pulled off his pranks by taking them so far that people suspended disbelief.


A. ABEL: They never stopped and thought, well, it could be a joke. No - because nobody would do something like that as a joke. I would, and I did.

INSKEEP: After faking his death in 1980, Abel told The New York Post, now when I really die, I'm afraid no one will believe it.

To be honest, we do feel a slight twinge of doubt, but we're fairly certain that Mr. Abel died on Friday at his home and Southbury, Conn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.