The dean of Hollywood gossip, Army Archerd, died last night. He was 87 years old and only recently suffered from mesothelioma.

Army started his daily column in Variety with these words: “Good Morning.” And then it was off to the races. He didn’t write about idiot pop stars lacking panties, or people who were famous for being famous. The stories Army told were about the real Hollywood stars, the studio execs, the producers, the behind the scenes people, the Hollywood machine.

Getty photo

Getty photo

His gift was bringing to life a world that really sounded glamorous and closed to real mortals. And because he treated stars with respect ‘ which no one does anymore ‘ he got it back in droves. When the actors saw Army on the red carpet at the Academy Awards, they walked toward him, not away. He was too gentlemanly to ask an inappropriate private question. If only today’s barrage of bloggers and camera wielding intruders could learn from him.

Army kept it clean, but he told like it was. He was also great about promoting Hollywood’s charitable side, and never failed to plug the many dinners and openings that put Tinseltown names on hospital wings and the like. In 2000, when Tina Brown asked me to edit an Oscar issue of Talk magazine, Army was the first person I called. He didn’t like articles to be written about him ‘ preferred to stay under the radar. But he did it, and the piece ‘ by Ross Johnson ‘ ‘was amusing and telling. Our subject was a mensch through and through.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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