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Clusters

Adam Bernstein

"The Dead Beat," Marilyn Johnson's 2006 book about obit writers, notes a trend she called "occupational clusters." That is when two inventors or three war heroes or five actors die within a few days of one another and appear on the same obit page.

The New York Times is particularly skilled at this art. And a former obit editor at The Post was never prouder as when he managed to get a dead doctor, lawyer and Indian chief in the paper on the same day.

Do mischievious-minded readers, writers and editors see clusters as a great opportunity to show patterns in a chaotic world? This week provides ample ammo -- several 1950s icons have exited, including jukebox star Teresa Brewer, actress Deborah Kerr and comedian Joey Bishop.

By Adam Bernstein  |  October 18, 2007; 2:13 PM ET
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Comments

There's a trend on obituary boards to look for "death triads". Your example - 50s entertainers - is a classic case. Other classic triads have been the 70s TV star triad of Dennis Weaver, Don Knotts, and Darren McGavin and the award-winning author triad of C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley, and John F. Kennedy (rumours of ghost-writing notwithstanding).

My favourite, though, is the duo of McLean Stevenson and Roger Bowen, two Henry Blakes who died 24 hours apart.

Posted by: Charlene | October 23, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

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