Spielberg, Poitier, Reiner pay tribute

At Monday’s memorial service for Army Archerd, Steven Spielberg said the late Daily Variety columnist had been “our industry’s continuity. He was the link between the golden past and the rapidly changing present.”

The evening at the Saban Theater began with remarks by Archerd’s rabbi, David Baron, and his son Evan Archerd followed by a dozen speakers who’d known the journalist throughout his career.

Sidney Poitier spoke eloquently and brought up the interesting point that he “knew Army better on the telephone than in person.”

Sharon Stone praised Archerd as someone who “stood his ground gracefully, peacefully and thoughtfully.” AMPAS prexy Tom Sherak spoke of his “moral compass … complete professionalism … and passion for the business he loved.” Arthur Hiller called him “a columnist of integrity and fact. He was a nice man and a warm and caring friend.”

George Schlatter, who’d known Archerd since his stint in the early 1950s as a “leg man” for Herald-Examiner columnist Harrison Carroll, spoke of the days when they’d hang out at Ciro’s nightclub, where Archerd trolled for news items because “the traffic there was sensational.”

Variety editor Tim Gray got big laughs with a few anecdotes about working with Archerd, including tales of the paper’s old guard being traumatized when computers were introduced to the newsroom in 1991. “Army had 40 years on a manual typewriter and 18 years on a computer. And he never really did get the hang of it,” Gray deadpanned. But Archerd always persisted on the computer, and even volunteered to write a blog, because even after 50 years of being a newsman, he never tired of getting the news to readers as quickly as possible.

Other speakers at the program produced by Gary Smith included Archerd’s grandson Ryan Rosenblum; Julian Myers, Angie Dickinson, Carl Reiner and Hugh O’Brian. Seen in video clips were Liz Smith, Julie Andrews, Dinah Shore and Jay Leno.

Attendees included Gil Cates, Bruce Davis, Frank Mancuso, Variety editorial director Peter Bart, Monty Hall, George Segal, Sally Kellerman, Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss, Walter Mirisch, Dr. Gary Gitnick and Fred Hayman.

Archerd died Sept. 8, and the evening was scheduled to coincide with what would have been his 88th birthday on Jan. 13.

The evening ended with words from Archerd’s widow, Selma, who said “for 40 happy years we adored each other.” Accompanied by pianist Corky Hale, she sang a cleverly written tribute set to the lyrics of “Thanks for the Memories” that included the line “to know the Grant named Cary, it’s you I had to marry.”

She closed the night by saying that those wishing to do something in her husband’s honor could make a contribution to the Army Archerd Foundation at the Exceptional Children’s Foundation.

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