Quite a turnout tonight at the Saban Theater on Wilshire Boulevard for a tribute to the legendary Daily Variety columnist Army Archerd.
Steven Spielberg, Sidney Poitier, Sharon Stone, Angie Dickinson, Carl Reiner, Tom Sherak, George Schlatter, Arthur Hiller, Hugh O’Brian, Julian Myers, Rabbi David Baron, Variety editor Timothy M. Gray, Army’s son Evan Archerd and grandson Ryan Rosenblum. And, of course, Selma Archerd. And Corky Hale on the piano and harp. (When Poitier walked up to stage, she played “To Sir With Love.” For Carl Reiner, it was “The Dick Van Dyke Show” theme).
Speaker after speaker cited Army’s integrity, grace, dignity, courage, character, humor, strong moral values, his unfailing optimism, his love for every aspect of showbiz and his zeal for breaking stories. Spielberg and others noted that Army never wrote in anger or spite — even when he was calling someone out for something he felt was morally or ethically wrong. He never traded in gossip or innuendo or pernicious blind items. If he reported it, it was true. His positive nature was signaled at the top of every column with his signature opening: “Good morning.”
Army came of age in a very different era of journalism, but the journalists of today — self-appointed and otherwise — should still take their cues from the Archerd legacy. As much as he loved scoops, he never forgot that reporting is all about business of relationships, and he was in the reporting biz for the long haul.
Tonight’s lovely presentation, produced by Selma (who closed with a rendition of “Thanks for the Memory” with her own lyrical twists) and Gary Smith, was a fitting tribute to a classy, talented man. It reminded me of how much his presence is missed in the Varietynewsroom. It was also a welcome opportunity to see old friends and colleagues. And, he’d be happy to know that I got a little news tidbit out of Spielberg. (And I got to shake hands with Poitier, which impressed the heck out of my husband.)
You can read all about tonight’s memorial service in Wednesday’s edition of Daily Variety in a dispatch from Variety‘s Bill Higgins, a classy scribe in the Archerd tradition.
— Cynthia Littleton