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Variety's Venerable Army Archerd Dies

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Many a Hollywood hopeful or star has come and gone from the headlines in the past five decades, but one name always remained rooted in his by-line at Daily Variety. Army Archerd, the industry rag's longtime columnist died yesterday at 87. "Archerd collapsed at home in Westwood on Monday afternoon and died Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center," notes his LA Times obit. Five years ago Archerd was diagnosed with a rare form of mesothelioma, "which doctors ascribed to his exposure to shipyard asbestos when he was in the Navy during World War II."

His experience writing about entertainment began in 1945, when he covered the business for the Associated Press, explains Variety. He started work with Daily Variety in 1953, and continued writing a column until 2005, though he also contributed several pieces since leaving his post, including a blog post just this past July.

The award-winning journalist disliked being considered a "gossip columnist," and became known for sometimes pushing his subject matter into the arena of social awareness; he is credited as being "one of the first writers to link AIDS to a celebrity when he wrote a piece detailing, amid denials from the actor's publicists and managers, that Rock Hudson was undergoing treatment for AIDS." He also served as the official on-the-red-carpet greeter at the Oscars for 47 years.

Says his employing publication of over 50 years: "Showbiz has lost one of its defining voices, one who honed his craft in the bygone era of close-knit Hollywood and evolved through the many iterations of the industry."