Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: How tragically ironic that your column advocating concealing the cause of death to spare the feelings of the survivors appeared in the same issue of the Los Angeles Times as the obituary of the famous actor, James Franciscus, dead of emphysema at 57. I am happy to report that Burt Folkart's fine obituary plainly stated that Franciscus was a heavy smoker!

I tend to agree with your position -- with one glaring exception: When a prominent person dies of lung cancer, emphysema, pneumonia, or any other smoking-related disease -- (Ed Murrow, Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, Nat Cole, Harry James, Lucille Ball, John Wayne, Zeppo Marx, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Sammy Davis, et al -- the list is endless), to suppress the fact that the deceased was a nicotine addict (as they almost always are), is to play into the hands of the cigarette manufacturers.

By the same token, juvenile criminals should always be identified, no matter how young. Perpetrators of adult crimes should be treated like adults, not coddled by the news media.

Incidentally, I am a retired dentist who has always told my smoking patients to worry less about the ugly brown stain on their teeth and more about the possibility of premature tobacco-caused death. -- MARVIN H. LEAF, D.D.S., LOS ANGELES

DEAR DR. LEAF: You said a mouthful.

DEAR ABBY: My fiance, "Jack," agreed to be the best man at the upcoming wedding of his friend, "Alan."

Alan and I are acquainted, and he knows that Jack and I have been engaged for over a year. The problem is that I did not get an invitation to the wedding. Some mutual friends got their invitation a couple of weeks ago, so I know the invitations have already been sent out.

It is my understanding that the members of the wedding party should also be sent invitations as a matter of courtesy -- but Alan and his bride-to-be have not done this.

Jack says that they probably just assume that I will also attend, because he will be the best man.

Abby, I would feel uncomfortable going to a wedding and reception to which I was not invited.

Also, I'm not sure it was an innocent oversight, because Alan has tried to set Jack up with other women in the past, knowing full well he is engaged to me.

What should I do, if anything? -- SNUBBED

DEAR SNUBBED: Tell Jack that you are offended at having been "overlooked" -- and you'd feel more welcome if you were to receive an invitation. And since the bride sends the invitations, she should be reminded. But whether you receive a formal invitation or not, you'd be foolish to sit home while your fiance is dancing at the wedding!

"How to Be Popular" is an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person. To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600