Newspaper reporters fell for a practical joke, discovering the truth only after scouring the city for a woman who had given birth to seven babies.
Credit…International Herald Tribune
Paris was subjected to an intensive search last night by French and foreign newspaper reporters who forgot international politics and other forms of news when the rumor spread that somewhere in the city a woman had given birth to seven babies, or septuplets. At midnight the frantic search was still going on but no such fertile woman had been found.
The woman-hunt started after news agencies and newspaper correspondents began to get queries which simply stated that “American Telegraph” had reported the multiple birth. No address or name was given but the pack turned out. Hospitals were checked and police were asked if they had any such report.
At the Hotel Dieu, large maternity hospital near Notre-Dame Cathedral, they said nothing of the sort had happened there but that they had had about twenty queries on the subject.
Representatives of the French Ministry of Information also were trying to trace the rumor. Somehow the address of a building in the Rue Galande was mentioned and twenty journalists invaded the place and went through the building knocking on doors and asking if anybody had had seven babies there. Still no luck.
It was not until far into the night that it was discovered that the hunt had been started as the result of a practical joke. A group of his colleagues fixed up the story and told it to a French police reporter. He fell for it hook, line and sinker and before long the thing had gotten out of hand.
— The International Herald Tribune, Feb. 21, 1946.
Source: The New York Times