Hoaxer Alan Abel dies; this time for real
Long before “fake news,” there was Alan Abel, a longtime professional hoaxer, who even tricked the New York Times to report he was dead.
Now, he is actually dead.
So reported, the New York Times. Again.
Now, The Times is sure he’s not only merely dead, he’s really most sincerely dead.
His daughter, Jenny Abel, told The Times Alan Abel died from complications of cancer and heart failure at his home in Southbury.
Just to make sure, The Times’ reporters confirmed his death with Regional Hospice and Palliative Care in Connecticut in Danbury and Carpino Funeral Home in Southbury.
Abel, who was born in Zanesville, Ohio, died Friday at age 94. He was a longtime resident of Westport.
In 1980, the newspaper reported his first “death,” of a heart attack at the Sundance ski resort in Utah.
Days later, it ran a correction: “An obituary in the New York Times Wednesday reported incorrectly that Alan Abel was dead. Mr. Abel held a news conference yesterday to announce that the obituary was a result of a hoax he had arranged to gain publicity. He described himself as a professional hoaxer and said that 12 accomplices had been involved in the deception.”
Abel first gained hoaxer fame, by setting up the Society for Indecency of Naked Animals that waged a campaign to clothe all naked animals.
According to hoaxes,org, the organization president was G. Clifford Prout, who was actually Buck Henry, an actor and friend of Abel.
Prout appeared on the Today Show in 1959 promoting the anti-animal-nudity campaign with such slogans as “A nude horse is a rude horse.”
The campaign continued until 1962, when Prout was featured on the CBS News with Walter Cronkite.
According to hoaxers.org, “as the segment was airing, a few CBS employees recognized that Prout was actually Buck Henry, a comedian and CBS employee. SINA was subsequently revealed to be an elaborate hoax. Although Henry played the role of SINA’s president, the hoax had been dreamed up and orchestrated by Alan Abel, who played the part of SINA’s vice president.”
Other Abel-inspired hoaxes reported by the Associated Press and on Abel’s web site abelraisescain.com include:
In 1964 and 1968, promoted Mrs. Yetta Bronstein, a Jewish grandmother from the Bronx, who ran for president. Her campaign slogan was “Vote for Yetta and things will get betta.”
In 1972, had a fake reclusive billionaire “Howard Hughes” appear at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, wrapped in bandages, claiming that he was going to be frozen through cryogenics and return when the stock market peaked.
In 1982, had a man named Prince Emir Assad mysteriously appear at the Red Cross Pro/Celebrity tennis tournament. He arrived in a limousine, wearing a burnoose over his tennis
In the 1983 Super Bowl, had a fake official on the field, who called for plays before being taken away.
In 1985, engineered a mass fainting on Phil Donahue’s television show, a hoax he called FAINT - the Fight Against Idiotic Neurotic TV.
In 1988, created a school for beggars, reported by a Miami newspaper and the British Broadcasting Corp. Abel posed as Omar Rockford, the school’s director and got a few friends to portray students.
In 1989, had a Salman Rushdie lookalike appear at a book convention to autograph his controversial book, “The Satanic Verses.”
In 1991, formed the KKK Symphony Orchestra “to promote a ‘kinder, gentler’ image of the Klan.”
In 2000, formed the Citizens Against Breast Feeding “to abolish immoral perversion.” Posing as Jim Rogers, Able appeared on TV and radio shows who claimed that breast-feeding “was incestuous and that it led to oral addiction.”
Hoaxes aside, Abel was an author of 10 books, actor, filmmaker and jazz musician.
In a 2005 interview with the Associated Press, Abel said he devoted his life to pranks to make people laugh and think.
“There was always an underlying message. I think we need more laughter and we’re not getting it. All we’re getting is laugh tracks telling us when to laugh.”