Daily Variety columnist Army Archerd dies
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Daily Variety columnist Army Archerd dies

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Army Archerd, the veteran show business columnist often described as "the most trusted voice of Hollywood," has died.

Archerd died Sept. 8 in Los Angeles at the age of 87, reportedly of a rare form of lung cancer.

For more than 53 years, Archerd wrote a daily column for Daily Variety, the entertainment industry’s trade paper. His more than 10,000 columns in his lifetime were read like biblical texts by show business luminaries from Los Angeles to New York and around the world.

Many of his items became global front page sensations, such as his revelation that macho actor Rock Hudson had flown to Paris for AIDS treatment at a time when any mention of homosexuality was taboo among celebrities.

The Bronx native, who served as an officer on a Navy destroyer during World War II, wore his Jewishness with pride and quickly challenged any expressions of anti-Semitism.

He took on such icons as Michael Jackson when the lyrics of one of his songs insulted Jews, and Marlon Brando when he tossed off an anti-Semitic quip during an interview. Both singer and actor apologized for their trespasses.

"I have an antenna for any indications of prejudice in the industry, including, but not only, anti-Semitism," Archerd said during an interview in 2003, when he was honored by the Friends of the Hebrew University with its Scopus Award.

During tense times in the Middle East, Archerd readily denounced terrorist attacks on Israelis and praised supporters of the Jewish state.

Archerd grew up in what he called "a very Jewish home" with his immigrant parents, and readily displayed his bar mitzvah tallit and tefillin.  Frequently asked about his unusual first name, he said that it was actually Armand, but that "Army" was a boyhood nickname that just stuck.