A Hollywood scholar's appreciation of the LAT's Susan King

classic-hollywood-grab.jpgLos Angeles Times readers have been sadly noting the gaping holes left in local coverage by the massive loss of talent that resulted from the buyouts of last November. But today marks the final Classic Hollywood column by Susan King, the LA Times reporter who for the last 26 years has provided insightful interviews, reviews and profiles in the world of movies. (She stayed on to help with the award season.)

In addition to her regular reporting, Susan's weekly Classic Hollywood column put the spotlight on films, people and books that otherwise would go unnoticed and unheralded. She called attention to DVD releases of classic films as well as screenings around town of silent films and special programs worthy of finding an audience. In a city that is so spread out and so diverse, it is a challenge to get the word out and Susan could always be counted on. Whether it was a new series of UCLA restorations at the Hammer, special screenings of preserved films at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or the American Cinematheque's Aero or Egyptian theaters, or film festivals such as Cinecon or the TCM Classic Film Festival, Susan was there to spread the news.

"Susan's experience and infinite knowledge of the film industry's heritage will be sorely missed," says the American Cinematheque's Margot Gerber. "Her interviews always nailed the significance of an actor, writer, producer or director's contribution."

She gave us in-depth interviews with preservationists, actors and those working behind the scenes that did not appear anywhere else. Susan was much more than a fan; she understood the history of Hollywood and its impact on our culture and our economy. There are far too few people left who can connect the dots the way Susan did.

Randy Haberkamp, managing director of Preservation and Foundation Programs at the Academy, adds, "Susan was at the center of classic Hollywood. Every time she interviewed me, I noticed she had done her homework and her questions made me dig deeper. I looked forward to talking to her because I always learned things — what new books were out or what films were about to be released on DVD."

And that's exactly what her readers will be missing. The LA Times says that the column will continue, and hopefully it will appreciate Hollywood as Susan did, as a continuum with a history and culture that deserves to be celebrated. But Susan King's wealth of knowledge, her appreciation of filmmaking over the decades and sly humor will be sorely missed.

King's final Classic Hollywood newsletter

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