Veteran journalist Army Archerd, whose celebrity column in entertainment trade paper Daily Variety has been a Hollywood fixture for 52 years, plans to bid “Good Morning” to readers for the last time on Sept. 1, the publication said Thursday.
Archerd’s “Just for Variety” column has been a regular page-2 feature since 1953, offering a steady stream of inside tidbits on movies, TV shows and their stars with scoops ranging Rock Hudson’s AIDS diagnosis to Frank Sinatra’s last words.
But his presence extended well beyond the pages of Variety. Archerd, 83, has appeared as himself in more than 100 films and TV shows and was a frequent emcee at movie premieres in town.
He also has served as co-host of the People’s Choice Awards on CBS since 1974 and as the official red-carpet greeter at the Academy Awards since 1958.
Through it all, Archerd maintained a reputation for fairness and accuracy often regarded as rare in the business of celebrity news, endearing him to many of the people he wrote about -- a key factor in the exclusives he landed.
Archerd bristled at being referred to as a “gossip columnist” (though he was a regular on E! Entertainment Network’s “The Gossip Show”), and he avoided the use of blind items or tips from anonymous “friends.”
Instead, Archerd, who began each piece with the phrase ”Good morning,” wrote a classic “three-dot” column chronicling the comings and goings, latest projects, charitable activities, births, deaths and illnesses of celebrities in a string of short, staccato entries separated by ellipses.
A massive scoopIn later years, Archerd tended to focus on Hollywood’s older set, and his column -- seen by some as outdated in an era of round-the-clock tabloid journalism on TV and the Internet -- was scaled back to twice a week in 2003.
Still, a mention in his column was considered a milestone in the careers of younger talent and studio executives in a town where Archerd once wielded considerable attention.
His biggest scoop came in July 1985 when he reported that veteran leading man Rock Hudson was undergoing treatment for AIDS.
But Archerd was not above reporting “gossipy” items. He broke the news in 1995 that Elizabeth Taylor had split up with her seventh husband, former construction worker Larry Fortensky. And three years after that, it was Archerd who got the exclusive on Sinatra’s last words -- “I’m losing it.”
While he generally avoided editorializing, Archerd occasionally used his column as a bully pulpit.
He famously chided Marlon Brando in 1996 for anti-Semitic comments the actor made during an appearance on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” And he criticized the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for presenting a special Oscar in 1999 to director Elia Kazan, who informed on friends before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s.
Following his last regular column, Archerd will continue to contribute to Variety by covering news and industry events, the paper said.