Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Farewell to Army Archerd

Much of Hollywood's remaning golden generation was on hand Monday to pay their final respects to Variety's late legend, Army Archerd.

A mix of speakers, which ranged from Sharon Stone and Steven Spielberg to Sidney Poitier and Angie Dickinson, recalled anecdotes about Army, who passed away last September at the age of 87. Army, of course, wrote the daily "Just for Variety" column at the paper for more than 50 years.

Spielberg (above, below a drawing of Archerd) recalled the first time he appeared in Army's column, after signing his first deal in 1969.

"You were nobody until Army noticed you," said Spielberg, who also marveled at Archerd's notoriously strong memory. "How can any human being have such an accurate memory? I've been misquoted with seven tape recorders in a room, but was never misquoted by Army."

Spielberg also took aim at today's more contentious press and online sites, noting that "Army never wrote angrily. There was never anger in Army's column."

Given Army's tenure over more than half a decade, Spielberg noted that the columnist was "one perfect link between the golden past and the rapidly evolving present."

Among other speakers, Carl Reiner (above) recounted how he and Army bonded over the fact that they both grew up in the Bronx, and that their mothers were Romanian immigrants. The two became good friends after Reiner brought over an eggplant dish that his mother made.

Then there was "Laugh-In" creator George Schlatter, who left some of us wondering what he meant when he informed us that "Army was rumored to be close -- very close -- VERY close -- to Ava Gardner." Hmm.

Also, Army's son Evan recounted growing up with a father who had access to the glamour of Hollywood. His early memories include getting a tour of Disneyland, before it opened, with Walt Disney as a guide. And then there was the time that he visited the set of Marilyn Monroe's "Some Like It Hot."

"It seemed like Army knew everybody," said motion picture academy chairman Tom Sherak. "And everybody knew Army."

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