IT’S NOT A GOOD MORNING in Hollywood following the deaths late last week of three of showbiz’s best friends. Sammy Cahn’s lyrics have been sung by every singer, professional and otherwise, and he had even written one of his famous parodies for Daily Variety’s tribute to my 40th anni on Jan. 29. It wasn’t his first musical toast for me. Back in 1963, on my 10th year of “Good Mornings,” the Masquers tossed me a feed for which Sammy parodied “This Is the Army,” sung by– Nat King Cole. Since that time, we’d heard Sammy’s songs–often sung by him rather than by stars like Frank Sinatra–at countless galas. He was one of a kind. Sinatra was not told of Sammy’s death until after his show at Cerritos Performing Arts Center Friday night. He was devastated–it was the third close friend he’s lost in recent years, after Jilly Rizzo and Jimmy Van Heusen. Before his show Saturday night Frank noted of Sammy Cahn, “We were friends for 50 years , I miss him a lot. The world has lost one of its most talented people and I have lost a very dear friend.” In tribute to Sammy, Frank included in Saturday night’s concert these Sammy Cahn lyric’d songs: “Come Fly With Me,””My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)” and sadly, “I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry.”… Mary Lazar’s death brought messages of condolences to Irving, her husband of 30 years , from celebs around the world, the royalty of showbiz, princes and princesses, the Rothschilds, etc. Ironically, Lazar had visited his longtime friend Milton Pickman in the hospital last week–just a few days before Pickman also died … Mary Lazar had left Cedars to spend her final days at home. The Marvin Davises, in their private plane, had flown Mary and Irving from N.Y. to L.A. last month when Mary was too ill to fly via commercial. The Davises had regularly dined Swifty in these last, final weeks to try and take his mind off his grief. They surrounded him with his and Mary’s close pals nightly. “Mary is a deep loss to the community,” Marvin mourned. And Annabelle and David Begelman had lunched Swifty at Le Dome only last Tuesday to try and cheer him … Veronique and Gregory Peck were close friends. He recalled Mary’s “delightful whimsy. She had a wonderful way of impromptu dancing to cheer everyone. And–she was very brave.” Joan Collins, one of Irving’s clients, sat with him at dinner late last Monday night at Morton’s. She was his literary client and close to Mary. “Mary was one of the kindest, gentlest, most thoughtful human beings I’d ever known,” Joan said … Jack Valenti, another client of Irving’s, when told the news of Mary’s death, said, “My heart is shattered, She was my friend of 25 years and friends of such long embrace can never be replaced.” At this time, Irving doesn’t know if he can host his annual Oscar party at Spago … He asks that the request for private services be respected … The press/press agent corps was also saddened to learn last week that Betty Lamm, a veteran of 35 years in CBS’ praisery, had also died of cancer. She had been a favorite with celebs such as Carol Burnett, Danny Kaye and Jack Lord.
THE HEART OF SHOWBIZ: The final figures are in and Paul Newman, president of Newman’s Own, and A.E. Hotchner, exec VP, donated more than $ 7 million to charitable and educational causes. This as a result of sales from Paul Newman’s Own salad dressings, spaghetti sauces, popcorn, lemonade and salsa. He’s donated more than $ 55 million since starting his foodery in 1982. Whatta guy … The AFI held its first off-the-record informal forum Thursday with the following toppers talking the current and future state of the biz: Peter Benedek, Skip Brittenham, John Burnham, Mark Canton, Peter Chernin, Martha Coolidge, Phil Gersh, Larry Gordon, James Hindman, Fay Kanin, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Mark Johnson, Rick Nicita, Peter Rawley, Tom Schulman, Anthea Sylbert, Tony Thomopoulos and Paula Wagner. Fred Pierce, AFI board chairman, chaired along with Jean Firstenberg. There’ll be more meets as a result … Warren Cowan cocktailed Margaret Gardner here to set stars for London’s Evening Standard Film Awards Jan. 26. Among those on hand here: Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin, Deborah and John Landis, Pat Newcomb, Ali McGraw, Ruda Dauphin, Tony Curtis and fiancee Lisa Deutsch (to wed in March), Ava and Chuck Fries, Ross Hunter, Jacques Mapes, Nancy Sinatra, Georgia Frontiere, Ginny and Hank Mancini, Freddie Fields and Deborah Raffin and Michael Viner. The Viners’ Dove Books on tape is recording “The Letters of Darryl F. Zanuck” (Grove) as read by Richard Zanuck. DFZ’s theories on moviemaking are as pertinent today as when he wrote them.
JULIA ROBERTS and Jason Patric have called it off. She showed at Neil Jordan’s “Crying Game” (Miramax) screening with Sean Penn and Jeff Berg … When Glenda Jackson is “on hiatus” from her duties as a Member of Parliament she and longtime (20 years) producing partner Bob Enders will reteam for another feature … KCAL’s Jerry Dunphy receives the L.A. Press Club’s Joe Quinn Memorial Award for 33 years of TV reporting. Dunphy, a multiple Golden Mike winner, says his KCAL “shop has the best attitude–no egos.” He has a year and a half to go on his current contract, which looks to get a hefty renewal.