Hy Hollinger, who over a seven decade career covered Hollywood industry news at Variety and the Hollywood Reporter as well as working in studio publicity, died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 97.
Often seen pounding the corridors in Cannes and at the AFM, Hollinger was well-liked and respected in the business for his knowledge of international box office reporting and foreign sales. Working until he was 90, he retired in 2008.
Hollinger worked at Variety first in the late 1950s before returning to publicity, then again from 1979 to 1992. His reports from Cannes on high prices and other difficulties helped inspire some independent distributors to launch the American Film Market.
He later served as international editor at the Hollywood Reporter from 1992 until 2008.
Hollinger served as European production publicity director for Paramount when he was based in London. He worked on films including “Love Story” for Paramount, then left the studio to do corporate PR for the National Basketball Players Assn. and Sagittarius Productions.
Former Variety colleagues Robert Marich and Frank Segers remembered that while working in London with then-bureau chief Don Groves, he helped develop a system for tracking overseas box office, a difficult area to track at the time.
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At Cannes in 1980, he broke the story for Variety that the festival jury, chaired by Kirk Douglas, was caught by surprise when the festival decided to name a French film as Grand Prize winner when it had actually been passed over by the jury.
Born Herman Hollinger in the Bronx, he attended the City College of New York and Columbia U. School of Journalism.
According to Variety history website Simesite.net, “Hy’s first newspaper job was at the New York Times, working on Saturdays during high school as a copy boy and messenger in the classified ad department from 1932-1935. While attending Columbia’s Journalism School, Hy landed a job as a CBS Radio intern working the 1940 Republican convention…rubbing elbows with such CBS stars of the era as Robert Trout, John Charles Daly and political analyst Elmer Davis.”
Hollinger served overseas working for Armed Forces Radio in World War II, then worked for a suburban Philadelphia weekly and covered sports for the New York Morning Telegraph before moving to Warner Bros. as a publicist.
His wife, actress Gina Collens, died in 2014. He is survived by his daughter Alicia.