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One year ago: Army Archerd

September 8, 2010 |  6:00 am



Army Archerd had a Rolodex of Hollywood contacts that would be the envy of any entertainment reporter. The so-called "town crier of Hollywood" who made his name as a columnist at Daily Variety died one year ago.

Archerd wrote well over 10,000 columns for Variety and was considered the most trusted journalist in Hollywood. He retired his "Just for Variety" column on Sept. 1, 2005, after more than 50 years of writing it.

Stars often would not speak to anyone but him. When Johnny Carson celebrated his 25th year with NBC in 1987, the "Tonight Show" host left a message for 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."

Archerd's biggest scoop was in 1985 when he announced that actor Rock Hudson was suffering from AIDS. The actor became the first major Hollywood figure to be linked to the disease.

Archerd could name among his friends top stars and figures in the industry, but he was intentional about not being too close to the crowd he covered.

"I don't burn out because I'm not part of the scene, I'm looking at the scene," he told The Times in 1996. "I don't get involved like some unnamed people who cover this business."

The columnist became such an integral part of the daily ritual of Hollywood that when a bout of flu in 1983 forced him to miss work for the first time in 30 years, the Associated Press reported that "consternation and confusion reigned when the column failed to appear for three days."

Besides his work as a columnist, Archerd was, for 47 years, the official greeter at the Oscars, interviewing nominees and stars as they made their way across the red carpet.

For more on the famed Hollywood reporter, read Army Archerd's obituary by The Times.

--Michael Farr

Photo: Army Archerd. Credit: Los Angeles Times