Variety Legend Army Archerd, 1922-2009


Stalwart Variety columnist, industry insider, gossip and long-time Academy Awards greeter Army Archerd died today after an extended battle with cancer. He was 87. Known both inside and outside Hollywood by the "Good Morning" greeting that preceded his daily column -- particularly those containing groundbreaking scoops like Rock Hudson's 1985 AIDS treatment -- Archerd covered the film business for 60 years after seeing combat in World War II. His influence was such that he was tagged "Hollywood's Original Blogger" upon moving online in 2005. His final blog post appeared July 27.

According to his former employer, Archerd had been fighting a rare form of mesothelioma thought to have developed from exposure to asbestos in the Navy during WWII. After the war he began covering the entertainment beat for the Associated Press, finally joining Variety in 1953. The five-plus decades that followed found Archerd on the receiving ends of four phone lines sometimes, surrounded by a desk-turned-Rolodex full of industry sources. That access later helped expand his audience to a generation's worth of syndicated TV series; the respect he earned made him an ideal choice as the Academy Awards' official red-carpet host. (Which usually went well on the nights he wasn't introducing Rob Lowe/Snow White dance numbers.) Archerd retired from the job in 2006, the year after he was recognized with a street in his honor in his native Bronx with his wife Selma by his side.

In his prime -- which lasted years, by all accounts -- Archerd wrote 900 words a day, five days a week. His columns were read, his calls returned, his influence and legend built about as sturdily and patiently as they get. He loved his beat, and it loved him back. Speaking for myself, anyhow, I don't think you'd be reading this site (or have enjoyed its magazine incarnation years earlier) without him. Rest in peace, sir.

· Army Archerd dies at 87 [Variety]