Army Archerd was a Variety columnist for 52 years, a fixture on the red carpet and at Hollywood parties — and he liked to say that his style made him "Hollywood's first blogger." He died today of cancer at UCLA. His last item was posted July 27. Here's the package at Variety, which includes a tribute from executive editor Steve Gaydos. Nikki Finke says she got the news up first at Deadline Hollywood, where she writes:
Long before Ryan Seacrest even held a microphone, Army was a fixture on the Red Carpet at the Academy Awards as the interviewer of record. Conventional wisdom had it that an Oscar campaign wouldn't be successful without multiple mentions in Archerd's column. Among his countless news exclusives was the tragic 1985 news that Rock Hudson had the AIDS virus. This, like everything showbiz, Army handled without sensation. Though Hudson's publicist Dale Olson had tried to cover up Rock's illness, Archerd learned of Hudson's hospitalization in Paris and "wrote one of the most carefully written pieces I have ever seen," Olson recalled to Variety when Army retired his print column. "That's one of the secrets of Army's success. He would do a story, even if it was a difficult personal story, and not write it like gossip. The message was there, but it was gentle. His column will really be missed. There is no way to replace Army Archerd."
I, too, thought Archerd one of the last true gentleman journalists working in Hollywood, and one of the most accurate.