GOOD MORNING: Like the song says — I’m still here. And I’m still looking for news, just as I have for 52 years. I’ll be manning the phones as usual at my Variety office and I’ll continue to dig out news wherever it may be lurking, in crowded industry events or at intimate, so-called private, invitation-only settings. I’ll check the darkened booths at Dan Tana’s, the patio at Spago, the agent-packed Grill, even siphon leads out of the noise at the Palm. And in N.Y., at Elaine’s, the new Le Cirque, Michael’s and Joe Allen’s after theater. My greatest joy will always be getting a “scoop.” The byline will be the same, but it will be atop an occasional story and not atop the column.
YOU HAVE BEEN with me outside the Oscars and the Emmys and inside and backstage with me at both, also at the “People’s Choice Awards” from their first show, which I co-hosted with Richard Crenna. You’ve laughed with me at some of the wacky showbiz goings-on and joined me with a tear at eulogies I delivered to Richard Burton and Arthur Jacobs. You’ve suffered with me when we had power failures and I used candlelight to write a column on a manual typewriter — which I still keep in my office. I brought you first looks at countless movie and television sets, and legit shows in rehearsals. You were with me when we walked through the Jungle River Boat Ride at Disneyland — when the hippos and water were not yet installed. And you were at my side when EuroDisney was still mired in mud and its opening a gamble. I took you with me when Princess Grace invited us into her Monaco palace for dinner and a movie. You were with me in the White House and at the Kennedy Center with Presidents Reagan, Clinton and Bush, pere et fils. You were with me on the Demo convention platform when JFK was nominated for president. And in Madison Square Garden when Marilyn Monroe “Happy Birthday’d” Kennedy in the sexiest rendition ever heard … You were with me during the height of the celeb-packed nightclub era on the Sunset Strip — Ciro’s when the Will Mastin Trio starring Sammy Davis Jr. was born. And at the Mocambo, where we ringsided at the latenight brawls when the screen’s heroes and heavies decided to live their movie roles. And in midtown L.A., where the Ambassador Hotel housed the world-famous Cocoanut Grove, where every top name in the biz performed — with an orchestra led by Freddy Martin, whose singer-pianist was Merv Griffin … You were with me ringside as “Rocky” won his first bloodied bout in downtown L.A. And you stood alongside me in the Circus Maximus in Rome as the great chariot race of “Ben-Hur” was filmed … You were on the sets with me when I put on ape makeup and hairy suit to take you inside “The Planet of the Apes” … You attended premieres that I m.c.’d up and down Hollywood Boulevard and on Wilshire when there were glamorous theaters there as well. You also helped me emcee the openings of Las Vegas hotels and its wax museum with the then-performing duo of Siegfried & Roy. You stood alongside me as I m.c.’d the openings of Planets Hollywood with Arnold, Bruce and Sly in the halcyon days of that eatery — from N.Y. to London, to Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Hong Kong … You visited the major movie studios in L.A. when the stages were overflowing with major features — that was before Europe, Canada and other U.S. states made moviemaking more attractive (financially) than Hollywood. You met the studio bosses, who were readily recognizable — Jack Warner, Darryl and Richard Zanuck, Alan Ladd Jr., Samuel Goldwyn, Louis B. Mayer, Lew Wasserman, Harry Cohn and Republic’s Herb Yates. Yes, you even got to know the major studio publicity department heads who oversaw the daily lives of the seven-years-long contract lists. They were strongmen like MGM’s Howard Strickling, 20th’s Harry Brand, RKO’s Perry Lieber.
SO I THANK all of you for the stories you’ve afforded me — and to those who will maintain the tradition of news, which I will continue to report. Here’s thanks to you-know-who for you-know-what.
Ava, Julie, Marilyn, Rita, Clark, Ty, Duke, Shirley, Elvis, Lana, Sharon, Jimmy, Fred and Gene, Sammy, Frank, Dean and Jerry, Mike, Michael, Alfred, John, Joan, Betty, Bette, Olivia, Ingrid, Henry and Jane, Peter, Ray, Jay, Ernie, Debbie, Grace, Ginger, Sherwood, Kirk, Anne, Michael, Catherine and Eric, Carl, Rob and Estelle, Bill, Bing, Bob, Dolores and Linda, Sidney, Paulette, Loretta, Errol, Basil, Arnold, Danny, Roy, Dale, Ray, Rock, Elizabeth, Debbie, Connie, Cesar, George, Harry, Carol, Barbie, Judy, Liza, Lorna and Sid, Lucy and Desi and Gary, Leo, Johnny, Joni and Jodi, Oprah, Larry, Jeffrey, Bunny, Jennifer, Robert, Christopher, Laurence, Harrison, Mel, Anne, Monty, Christopher, Joe, Mike, Jack, Tony and Cyd, A.C., Dan, Don, Ted, Sherry and Billy, Ruth and Joe, Alan, David, Freddie, Gregory, Katharine, Katherine, Hedda, Louella, Barbra and Jim, Madelyn and Pete, Jon, Brooke, Sandy, Cindy, Clint, Lionel, Drew and Ethel, Benny, Walter, Fess, Gene, Merv, Warren and Annette, Warren and Barbara, Bill and Tani, Reege and Joy, Marlee, Marlon, Matt, Brad, J.Lo, Ali and Donanne, Aaron, Candy, Tori and Randy, Hugh, Sonny and Cher, Peter, Charlie, Adolph, Mae, Dakota, Deanna, Jane, June, Jean, Joe, Jimmy, Peter, Harry, Walter, Harold, Marvin and Larry, Woody, Mel, Nathan, Matthew, Pier, Pierre, Dana, Doris, Diana, Laurie, Leslie, Julia, Piper, Dick, Dan, Don, Donald, Gene, Walt, Jim, Lauren and Humphrey, Charlie, Halle, Goldie and Kurt, Burt, Peter, Nicole, Tom, Groucho and Harpo, Sophie, Ringo, Paul, John and George, Bruce, Dolly, Bob, Demi, Ashton, Tom, King, Prince, Joaquin, River, Diana and Dodi, Joe and Nancy, Ken, Sissy, Missy, Howard, Zsa Zsa, Eva, Paris, Kathy, Ricky and Barron, Brad, George, Esther, Sammy, Pia, Meshulam, Bill, Norman, Mickey, Danny, Marlo, Terre and Tony, Larraine and David, Frank, Jack, Wendy, Ray, Marty, Ernie, Lloyd, Beau and Jeff, Nikki, Whoopi, Sophia, Brigitte, Anita, Telly, Corky and Mike, Larry, Rosemarie, Budd and Alix, Arthur and Gwen, Hugh, Ginnie, Don, Victoria, Joe, Giorgio, Dan, Monty, Natalie, Bob, Abby and Perry, Monica, Monique, Natalie, Herb, Clint, Buz and Rhea, Jayne and Steve, Herb, Mel, Maggie, Larry, Monty, Monica, Sidney and Joanna, Jim, Jeff, Lee, Jeffrey, Brian, Barry, Orson, Rosemarie, Michael, Angelina, Billy Bob, Don Ho, Jude, Hugh, Shirley, Jennifer, Wolfgang and Gelila, Leo, Norman, Eartha, Elaine, Chuck, Norm, Red, Jack, Monty, Angelica, Alfre, Paul and Joanne, Ronnie and Nancy, Bill, Hillary and Chelsea, Tipper and Al, the Kennedys, Brad, Milton, Norm, Bernie, Tom, Carol, Angie, Rod, Kathy, Bobby, Camryn, Ed, Annabelle, Lew and Edie, Casey and Lynne, Steven, Stuart, Charlton, John, Sharon and Barney, Daphna, Richard, Quincy, Ken, Nicole, Madonna, Hal, Neil, Danny, Kelsey, Mimi, Roman, Rob, Kevin, Geoffrey, Hank, Norm and Joan, Monty and Marilyn, Red, Martin, Jack and Roxanne, Eva Marie and Jeff, Andy, Julian, Mickey, Minnie, Donald and all the rest of you, and your children, grandchildren and families who have found recognition here … So — a great GOOD MORNING to you all. That’s 30. Love, Army, P.S.: Don’t forget to call me with news!