Delving into the lost history of publicists, I have found that there was a rather amusing trend which involved inventing individuals to stand up a story. In the 1950’s, publicists used this ploy to establish relationships or trysts with non existent folk. It seems rather strange that these individuals were never exposed as fakes, but this is because journalists needed stories so turned a blind eye to them.
These imaginary creatures were usually industrialists or rich entrepreneurs who were either patrons of the arts or dating movie stars who needed more publicity. Sometime these characters grew out of all proportion and had to be killed off. If a columnist had a row with a publicist, (and I’d advise anyone who has never seen “The Sweet Smell of Success” to see it now and understand the very dark relationship between publicists and journalists), then the first thing the journalist would do would be to put a death announcement in the paper for one of those publicists “creations”.
If it was countered, then the journalist would put a full funeral report in the paper and even a false obituary to celebrate the fake life. This all goes to show just how tenuous a relationship is between journalists and publicists, and who ultimately holds the power.