ASBESTOS IN THE NEWS
Hollywood columnist Army Archerd dies of mesothelioma cancer linked to asbestos exposure in the Navy
Entertainment reporter Army Archerd dies of mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos in the Navy 60 years ago!
September 9, 2009 -- Army Archerd, the well-respected and prolific Hollywood reporter who covered the entertainment industry for more than 50 years in his column at show-business trade journal Daily Variety, died yesterday of an asbestos-related cancer. He was 87.
Five years ago, Archerd was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which doctors ascribed to his exposure to shipyard asbestos when he was in the Navy during World War II.
Asbestos - Before the Mast
A recent government report that addresses mesothelioma among seamen has disclosed that one-third of all mesothelioma patients in the United States were exposed to asbestos during military service in the U.S. Navy.
Unbeknownst to most sailors and officers, Naval ships during this period were bathed in toxic asbestos materials to help prevent fires at sea, especially during combat missions.
Mesothelioma is the deadliest of all cancers linked to asbestos exposure, and claims the lives of some 3,000 people in the country every year. Archerd's valiant five-year battle against mesothelioma is nearly unprecedented, as most patients die within months of being diagnosed with the disease.
Official host at the Academy Awards
Archerd collapsed at his home in Westwood on Monday afternoon and died Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, said his wife, Selma.
A celebrity newsman for decades, Archerd wrote well over 10,000 columns, the most famous of which broke the story in 1985 that movie actor Rock Hudson was suffering from AIDS.
Besides his work as a Hollywood columnist, Archerd was -- for 47 years -- the official greeter at the Oscars, interviewing nominees and celebrities as they made their way across the red carpet.
A native New Yorker . . .
Armand Archerd was born in New York City on Jan. 13, 1922, and grew up in the Bronx. His father, Herman, was in the textile business, and his mother, Mina, was a milliner. In 1939, his family moved to Los Angeles, where he attended UCLA and majored in languages.
After graduating in 1941 at the age of 19, Archerd enlisted in the Navy, where his doctors believe he was exposed to the asbestos that led to his mesothelioma. Archerd was assigned to a destroyer mine sweeper operating out of Hawaii's Pearl Harbor.
Another Hollywood legend, movie actor Steve McQueen, died in 1980 of mesothelioma. Prior to his film career, McQueen also served in the Navy.
Ironically, Los Angeles, California, home to the world-famous movie industry that Archerd reported on, records the highest mortality rate from mesothelioma than any urban area in the nation.
. . . and a friend to Hollywood’s elite
Informally known as “the town crier of Hollywood,” Archerd was perhaps the last in a long line of powerful Hollywood columnists. His column wielded the same drawing power in the movie industry as any Hollywood superstar that he covered.
To his credit, Archerd commanded the trust and respect of Hollywood’s elite. Though a powerful gossip columnist in the traditional sense, he was also known for being accurate, fair and kind to his subjects.
“He really is the straight arrow by which all other columnists should measure themselves," said actor Paul Newman, who died last year.
When Johnny Carson celebrated his 25th anniversary with NBC in 1987, the “Tonight Show” host left a message for his publicist: “I'm not doing any interviews, because if I do one, I'll have to do them all. But if Army calls, I'll speak to him.”
“We all know he is absolutely trustworthy," said film legend Gregory Peck, who died in 2003. “If you tell him something off the record, he will never betray you. He keeps a confidence, and I think that's why he has been able to write this column for so long. He doesn't grind axes.”
Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C.
Mesothelioma is most often the result of asbestos exposure on jobs – and usually contracted through employers’ preference for profits over the expense of maintaining the health and safety of workers.
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