Bob Thomas began to cover Hollywood for the Associated Press in 1944, after fleeing from the Fresno bureau. When he retired in 2010, Thomas was in Guinness World Records for longest career as an entertainment reporter, and for most consecutive Academy Awards shows (66) covered. Thomas died Friday at home in Encino of being old. He was 92. From AP's story:
He was the institutional memory for the movies at The Associated Press and a passage for the world to a Hollywood both longed for and long gone.
Bob Thomas, who died Friday at his Encino, Calif., home at age 92, started reporting when Clark Gable was a middle-aged king, Bette Davis was in her big-eyed prime, and Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall were emerging stars. "Independent" movies were a rarity during the studio-controlled era and celebrity gossip was dispensed by rival columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons rather than Internet sites.
Younger reporters knew the names and the credits, but Thomas knew the people and lived the history. He could tell you what Jack Lemmon liked to drink at parties or recall Marilyn Monroe's farcical inability to show up on time, or speak fondly of his times with "Greg" Peck.
Thomas was also the author of nearly three dozen books, including biographies of Walt Disney, Brando and Joan Crawford, and an acclaimed portrait of studio mogul Harry Cohn, "King Cohn." He wrote, produced and appeared in a handful of television specials on the Academy Awards and was a guest on numerous TV news and talk shows, including "The Tonight Show," ''Good Morning America" and "Nightline." His biographies of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes and the comedy team of Abbott and Costello were made into television movies....Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the AP, worked with Thomas in the Los Angeles bureau in the early 1980s. "Bob was an old-fashioned Hollywood reporter and he knew absolutely everyone."
AP says that Thomas became in 1988 the first reporter-author awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in front of what is now the Dolby Theatre. A wreath was placed there today by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
Thomas with Judy Garland in 1946. AP Photo/Courtesy Bob Thomas