WASHINGTON – A former U.S. ambassador was the victim of an April Fools' Day prank in which a friend ran an "in memoriam" ad in The Washington Post.
Edward Gabriel, who was the U.S. ambassador to Morocco from 1997 to 2001, said he fielded calls all day from friends who thought he had died.
The paid notice, which ran April 1, was titled "Ed Gabriel: A Partner for Life" and concluded with the line, "I could never quit you," a reference to the film "Brokeback Mountain."
In Wednesday's paper, the man who placed the ad, public relations executive J. Peter Segall, took out a second ad in which he apologized and said the original "was an unfortunate attempt at an April Fool's joke that created an entirely false impression of Mr. Gabriel."
Calls to Segall and Gabriel by The Associated Press were not immediately returned Wednesday.
Gabriel told the Post he spoke with one woman Tuesday who spent two hours crying after seeing the ad.
"He's an old friend who plays jokes on me every year, and some are hilarious, but they've been private," Gabriel said. "He's a good friend who went a little too far. He's apologized profusely, and I've accepted it, but not without being a little hurt. I think -- I know -- he had no ill intent."
Segall told the Post that "I engaged in a very stupid and ultimately cruel April Fools joke against a man that has been my best friend for 30 years, and I deeply, deeply regret it."
Post spokeswoman Rima Calderon said it was the first time a spoof ad was known to have appeared in the paper's death notices section. Death notices typically from funeral homes and are vetted, she said, but the "in memoriam" subsection of advertisements frequently includes ads placed by members of the public for people who may have died many years ago.