Fact checking the Orson Welles-writes-obit tale

Thumbnail image for Orson-Welles-larb.jpgAfter former LA Times books editor Steve Wasserman's piece last week for the LA Review of Books about the 1979 death of director Jean Renoir, current Times copy editor Larry Harnisch did some checking. He wanted to see if Wasserman's account was correct: that the Times dropped the ball on Renoir's passing and that Orson Welles saved the day by writing an appreciation for Sunday Opinion. "I don’t have a dog in this fight other than impatience with mistakes and contempt for folklore," Harnisch writes.

Welles wrote a piece for Opinion, all right. But Harnisch says that Wasserman got a few other things wrong, starting with the contention that the Times buried its obituary of Renoir deep inside the Sunday paper and ran an AP story instead of its own story. Here is Harnisch's blog post. Excerpt:

The immediate problem with Wasserman’s recollection is that Renoir died on a Monday and the story of his death appeared in the Tuesday paper, a fact that could be easily checked if he or anyone at the Los Angeles Review of Books cared to do so.

His next claim is equally false, however. One could quibble over whether the story was “buried,” but the account was not by the Associated Press, but by Paul G. Levine, an intern from Colgate University who contributed frequently to the Calendar and book review sections, with more than 90 bylined items in The Times, according to the clips.

Harnisch also found a first-person remembrance of Renoir in the LAT's Friday paper, and another appreciation in the Sunday Calendar section by the paper's prominent arts writer, Charles Champlin.

More by Kevin Roderick:
KCRW to hold story contest for radio producers
Fact checking the Orson Welles-writes-obit tale
KPCC 'grappling with an identity crisis,' says The Wrap
Elon Musk the latest in long line of 'loopy LA dreamers'
Expo Line Fan is revealed and says bye-bye
Recent LAT stories on LA Observed:
Fact checking the Orson Welles-writes-obit tale
LA Times automated quake news leads to non-stories like this
When Orson Welles wrote an obituary for the LA Times
Redesign of LAT site 'to challenge every fundamental and traditional assumption'
With Post, Globe sales, how little would LAT go for?

New at LA Observed
Follow us on Twitter

On the Media Page
Go to Media
On the Politics Page
Go to Politics

LA Biz Observed
Arts and culture

Sign up for daily email from LA Observed

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

LA Observed on Twitter and Facebook