Stephen Colbert's childhood

In this week’s New York Times Magazine there’s an interview with Stephen Colbert. Towards the bottom it mentions

Largely because of his work, I really can’t tell whether or not he’s making this up. Did this really happen, or is he (very darkly) joking?

He didn’t tell me that when I interviewed him, but he also said nothing that contradicts that statement. Based on that, the context, and this…

I don’t think he’s kidding at all.

Based on how it reads, he comes off as quite sober during the interview. I don’t think he was kidding.

Yeah, that does sound like it bolsters the “he’s serious” case, but then again I can easily see that being what he’d say if this were a bit on the show. He’s just so damned deadpan that I can’t tell when he’s really being serious.

It probably wouldn’t be that hard to check if three people named Colbert were killed in a plane crash about 25-30 years ago, would it?

Where is Stephen Colbert from, originally?

Wiki sez it’s true.

Probably have to go to Nexis to find Charleston, SC news stories from the late Sixties, though.

That tidbit was only added to the Wikipedia yesterday, so it was likely sourced from the OP’s article.

It’s not on Wiki now.

Despite what Wikipedia says, he was actually born in DC and grew up in Charleston.

In this Interview - he seems to indicate “parents” who were forces beyond 10 years old

IGNFF: So, would you say that your parents pushed you in any one direction, or they were just hoping that you would find a direction?

COLBERT: No, they were just hoping that I would find a direction. Just very supportive of what I eventually decided to try to do. But would have been perfectly happy if I had been lawyer or been a potter.

IGNFF: Just something productive?

COLBERT: Just something that could pay the rent.

There is a 40 minute Interview (audio) with him on NPR’s Fresh Air that might shed some light …

I agree the Times seems serious tho.

ShibbOleth suggested to check if such an accident could have occurred, and that part’s easy. The NTSB has an online databse which lists every aviation accident since 1962. Since Colbert says this happened when he was 10, and we know his birthdate, we can pull up a list of fatal air accidents between his 10th and 11th birthday.

My search turned up 745 during the period in question, 178 of which had at least 3 fatalaties (the article quotes Colbert as saying his father and two siblings were killed). Of those, one of departed from Charleston, SC, which previous posters have said is where he grew up.

An Eastern Airlines flight from Charleston, SC to Charlotte, NC crashed during final approach on 9/11/1974, with 72 fatalities. Here’s a link to the NTSB summary report. Here’s a link to the full report, a 36-page PDF.

I know what you mean. But it’s just not funny, and if he was kidding, I don’t think he’d miss like that. If I was making a joke like that, after the interviewer said “I’m sorry,” I’d have made another joke (“it’s okay, I didn’t like them” or “it was fine, more Christmas presents for me”)- that’d be the only way to make that funny.

As I remember it, Stephen’s father was a University Dean. (I forget at which university, if he told me.) I Googled a bit and found that there is a James W. Colbert Distinguished Lecture Series connected to the Medical University of South Carolina. One of the hits contained the comment “The lecture is part of the James W. Colbert Jr. Distinguished University Lecture series honoring the late Dr. Colbert who served as vice president for academic affairs at the Medical University prior to his death in 1974.”

Stephen was 10 in 1974. I think we can conclude this is true.

Ok. Marley’s info about his father was the final picee of the puzzle. A Proquest search turns up an obituary for James Colbert in the Washington Post on 9/15/1974. It reads:

Nice research. 11 kids? Wow.

The Colbert Report.

Its French, Bitch!

Yeah, that’s too much lining up to not be true, unless Colbert’s basically been faking his bios to set up this joke for use.

Here’s more info from Seems it was totally due to flight crew error.

That’s beyond awful.

Would it be in bad taste for me to suggest that the crew of that plane sound like they would make excellent Dopers?