Veteran journalist and former Daily Variety reporter Will Tusher died Wednesday at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Woodland Hills of heart failure. He was 77.
Although Tusher was known throughout Hollywood as a curmudgeon, he was well-respected by those in the industry.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a trade journalist in the motion picture business who has contributed more to the industry than Will did,” said longtime Paramount producer A.C. Lyles. “He knew this business inside out.”
While the prolific Tusher did sometimes rankle the feathers of those he covered as a reporter, Lyles points out that was one of his strong points.
“He was a tough journalist, but he was a fair journalist,” Lyles continued. “He will be sorely missed by everybody in the industry. He was a gentle man and a gentleman.”
Another Paramount producer, Howard Koch Sr., agreed with Lyle’s assessment: “I think he was one of the best guys as far as telling true stories of what’s going on in Hollywood. He was honest, giving and willing.”
Tusher was born March 6, 1915, in the Bronx and began his career as a newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News in the mid-’30s. He later worked as a freelance journalist from the mid-’40s to the early ’60s, writing for numerous movie fan magazines, including Photoplay.
A pioneer of the talkradio format in the early ’60s, Tusher hosted his own show on KABC Radio, “Live From the Villa Capri.” The first guest on the show, which featured interviews with celebrity guests, was Frank Sinatra, owner of the Villa Capri restaurant.
He continued his print journalism career with a stint as editor of the Film Daily and as a reporter at the Hollywood Reporter, where he served until 1976, when he left to join the staff of Daily Variety.
Tusher left Daily Variety in 1982, when he joined the staff of a short-lived electronic trade paper. He returned to Daily Variety a year later and finished his journalism career there, eventually retiring in October 1991.
A guest lecturer at the UCLA Film School, Tusher won the Publicists Guild’s annual Press Award in 1988. Although he ruffled more than a few feathers when he made off-color remarks about publicists upon receiving the award, publicists still had nothing but praise for the journalist.
“He was eminently fair,” said former Rogers & Cowan chairman Warren Cowan. “He was a total professional and a fine reporter.”
Tusher is survived by three sons, Mark, Craig and Dayton, and two daughters, Wendy Tusher and Claudia Backhaus.
A funeral service will be held today at 10 a.m. at Reardon Mortuary in Simi Valley, followed by burial at Oakwood Memorial Park, Chatsworth.