Army Archerd, who chronicled Hollywood for 52 years as a columnist for Variety, died today of mesothelioma, the showbiz publication reports. He was 87; the cancer was thought to be related to exposure to asbestos during World War II. He was known for injecting a social consciousness into his reporting, which first appeared Oct. 18, 1945; his last blog post was July 27.
Archerd was among the earliest to publicize the AIDS diagnosis given actor Rock Hudson, the first major celebrity linked to the disease. Though he often struck a lighter, more quotidian note in his columns, he was known for taking up for Jewish issues, and often criticized the National Rifle Association and actor Charlton Heston’s affiliation with it.