You can’t make this stuff up. From today’s New York Times Corrections section:
Because of editing errors, an article on Monday about questions likely to be raised in the trial of Anthony Marshall, the son of Brooke Astor, and one of her lawyers on charges of conspiracy and scheming to defraud in connection with her estate misidentified her father-in-law and referred imprecisely to the source of his fortune. He was John Jacob Astor IV, not John Jacob Astor, his great-grandfather, and while he did make millions in real estate, he was not a fur trader.
The article also misidentified the Astor who died in the sinking of the Titanic. It was John Jacob Astor IV — not his great-grandfather, who died in 1848.
Apparently the exploits of the original John Jacob Astor are not as familiar to reporters and editors today as they once were.
PAUL adds: At least the Times didn’t confuse John Jacob Astor IV with Mary Astor.
JOHN agrees: Right. Nor did they refer to him as John J. Cabaster, as one of my junior high school classmates did in writing about the original Astor.