Tucker Death Hoaxes

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There were two Tucker Death Hoaxes.


The first was during the Staple Wars, when a fellow boarder sent a letter to Astounding as a prank, using the name Anne Smidley, and hoaxed editor F. Orlin Tremaine into printing a notice of Tucker's death.

The letter read:

Perhaps you may already know it by this time, but our friend Bob has passed on. Strangely enough, the last words I ever heard him say concerned your magazine. As I left the hospital, he gave me the inclosed letter to mail, and requested that when I returned the next day I bring a new copy of Astounding Stories with me. I did, but unfortunately I was too late. He was operated upon that morning and never regained consciousness.

The letter was published all solemnly in Brass Tacks in the January 1936 ASF. By publication time Tremaine had discovered that he'd been had, and declared there'd be no more staple stuff in Brass Tacks. Tremaine came to believe that Tucker was either Smidley or was in cahoots with her, and banned Tucker from Brass Tacks for a number of years.


The second hoax came a few weeks before the Cinvention in 1949; at that time, Ben Singer, an 18-year-old Michifan stationed at Chanute AFB near Tucker's place, dropped in on Bob and suggested pulling off a Tucker Death Hoax for the con. Bob deprecated the idea and thought he'd quashed it, but Singer found it a fascinating notion and upon leaving sent Don Ford, the Cinvention chairman, a telegram, ostensibly from Tucker’s girlfriend Mari Beth Wheeler, telling him of Bob's death, and sent Spacewarp editor Art Rapp a news release giving gory details.

The story ran that Bob had written a love novel which Rinehart desperately wanted to buy, though they had lost the manuscript he had sent them; and that when Tucker got their message his children had just finished burning the only carbon copy. Tuck, per Singer, drowned his sorrows, went to sleep drunk while smoking in the projection room of the theater where he worked, and started a fire in which he was fatally burned. His last words deserve recording: "Tell them I'm sorry..." (i.e. the Cinvention attendees, because he couldn't make it to the con).

Rapp, whom Singer convinced Tucker was in on the gag, flashed the “news” out to fandom. Will Sykora called Bloomington to check up and found out from the manager of the theater that it was all a hoax, which, accordingly, he indignantly denounced. So did the manager, suspecting Tucker of seeking phony publicity for his writings; only his strong union, Bob said, kept him from being summarily fired.

See Death Hoax, Hoaxes.

From Fancyclopedia 2 ca 1959
No, I was wrong [see Bob Tucker for the story], Rapp didn't exactly take Singer's message at its face value, but realized it was a hoax and therefore didn't put his own name to it. He complied with Singer's request to mimeo and distribute the thing because Ben, in his letter, implied that the thing was a collaboration between himself and Tucker.

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