The best part of 2012 so far: 2011's obituaries

I like to start the New Year on a happy note, so I always turn first to the obituary page. There's nothing quite so pleasant as being unable to find your name there, and confirming you're beginning another year on the right side of the dirt!

Besides, the obits are always about people (and the occasional animal) who have done good things - like that obit the other day about Cheetah, the chimpanzee in all the Tarzan movies back in the '30s.

Debbie Cobb who works at the Florida animal sanctuary where Cheetah lived out his last years told The New York Times the old fellow - I like that better than "old ape" - was 80 years old.

Trouble is, ape experts say they've never heard of an ape living that long, so they are dubious that Cheetah was who he said he was. Of course he never said anything, so we have to take Mrs. Cobb's word for it but she does sound truthful.

However, the actress Mia Farrow whose mother, Maureen O'Sullivan, was in the movies with Cheetah, said her mom didn't care for Cheetah - and that's understandable, since he was always biting her.

So if this was the real Cheetah, he must have mellowed with age.

The woman at the animal sanctuary said he was compassionate, loved finger painting, watching football on TV, and found Christian music relaxing.

Still, we may never know for sure. All we have are pictures and as film archivist Eve Gordon told the Times, "Basically all chimps look like George Burns."

I love the obits.

  • Bob Schieffer On Twitter»

    Bob Schieffer is CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation.

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