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For Reference: Area Man Still Keeping Up with Dead Celebrities


Harris M. Lentz, III started writing celebrity obituaries in the 1970s for a column in a movie fanzine, but it became something of a pasttime in 1993 when the McFarland & Co. publishing house offered him a multi-volume book deal. Each year, he's filled a reference-sized tome with more than 700 entries of celebrities from the A-list on down who have died within the year. 

But McFarland put an end to the book in 2020, so Lentz turned to self-publishing on Amazon. 

Lentz, a librarian at the small Horseshoe Lake Branch Library in Hughes, Ark., south of West Memphis, says he spends "a good portion" of his day scouring the Internet for celebrity obituaries. 

"I think I see it more like I'm paying tribute to these people that however in their great or small way contributed to our society," he says of his fascination. "I like to have a last word on them, I guess."

The book, now also in e-book format, can be purchased here

Reporting from the gates of Graceland to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Christopher's favorite haunt is the intersection of history and cultural change. He is WKNO's News Director and Senior Producer at the University of Memphis' Institute for Public Service Reporting. Join his conversations about the Memphis arts scene on the WKNO Culture Desk Facebook page.