Professor Irwin Corey, the World’s Foremost Authority, died today at the age of 102. In a career spanning over seventy years, he established himself as a street performer, character actor, comedian, and all-around raconteur. But perhaps his most famous role came in 1974, when he impersonated Thomas Pynchon, accepting the National Book Award for Gravity’s Rainbow. The notoriously reclusive author, who has avoided the public spotlight since the 1960s (barring two guest appearances on The Simpsons) and has seldom been photographed, sent Corey in his place to accept the award. Not everybody appreciated the gesture; according to The New York Times, “Pynchon”’s speech was “a series of bad jokes and mangled syntax which left some people roaring with laughter and others perplexed.”

Fun Fact: Gravity’s Rainbow was also nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel. It lost to Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama.

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