from Deadline Hollywood

R.I.P. Army Archerd


army archerdLongtime Variety columnist Army Archerd died this afternoon at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center of a rare form of cancer. He was posting on his online column as recently as July 27th. But he was best known for his “Just for Variety” column in the print edition of Daily Variety from 1953 to 2005. And, 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. He was always sweet and supportive towards me. My condolences go out to his wife of many years, Selma.

Press-shy celebrities from Marlon Brando to Johnny Carson always sought out Archerd. According to a 2005 tribute to the journalist written when he retired as a print columnist, when Carson was about to celebrate his 25th anniversary on NBC in 1987, he told his publicist: “I’m not doing any interviews, because if I do one, I’ll have to do them all. But if Army calls, I’ll speak to him.”

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