Sunday, September 20, 2009

Television Writer George Eckstein and Columnist Army Archerd Pass On

George Eckstein

George Eckstein, who wrote for such TV series as The Untouchables and The Fugitive (including that show's two part final episode), passed on September 12 at the age of 81. The cause was lung cancer.

George Eckstein was born in Los Angeles, California on May 3, 1928. He attended Beverly Hills High School. He graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor's degree in theatre arts and from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a master's degree in theatre arts. He served in the United States Army from 1953 to 1955. Afterwards he received a legal degree at the University of Southern California. In 1959 he produced the Broadway show The Billy Barnes Revue.

George Eckstein was working as a casting director and business manager when he sold his first script for a television series for The Untouchables in 1961. He went on to write eight more episodes of the show. Eckstein wrote for such shows as Dr. Kildare, Gunsmoke, and Felony Squad before his work on The Fugitive. He wrote his first episode for the show in its first season, and went onto write eight more. Eckstein's final episode for the show was its two part season finale, the half of which was for a time the highest rated hour of television. It was through The Fugitive that Eckstein entered television production, becoming a producer on the show in 1965.

Following his work on The Fugitive, Eckstein continued to write for various shows, including The Invaders, The Outcasts, and Cannon. He also wrote teleplays for various TV movies, including House on Greenapple Road, the 1985 television version of The Bad Seed, and a television adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel Murder with Mirrors. George Eckstein produced such series as The Name of the Game, Banacek, Griff, Love, Sidney. He produced several television movies, among them Duel, the first film directed by Stephen Spielberg. Others he produced were a 1971 TV version of Death Takes a Holiday, Tail Gunner Joe, Travis McGee, and Six Against the Rock.

Army Archerd

Army Archerd, longtime reporter and columnist for Daily Variety, passed on September 8, 2009 at the age of 87. He had worked for the newspaper for over fifty years.

Army Archerd was born Armand Archerd in the Bronx on January 13, 1922. In 1939 he moved with his family to Los Angeles. There he attended the University of California, Los Angeles. After graduation he enlisted in the Navy. He would attend officer training at Columbia University. While waiting to go to officer training, Archerd worked in the Paramount mail room. He served aboard a destroyer mine sweeper in the Pacific, on which one of his duties was movie officer. In love with film even then, he would sometimes trade some of the ship's fresh vegetables to get newer movies from larger ships.

In 1944 Army Archerd was hired by reporter Bob Thomas for Associated Press as legman to help gather Hollywood items for his column. In 1947 Archerd left Associated Press to work for columnist Harrison Carroll of The Los Angeles Herald-Express. It was in 1953 that Army Archerd was hired by Daily Variety as a replacement for columnist Sheilah Graham. His first column, "Just for Variety," debuted on April 27 of that year. He wrote the column for 53 years. Archerd also reported Hollywood news for a time on the 11 o'clock news on Los Angeles television station KNXT-TV. For 47 years he served as the official greeter on the red carpet for the Academy Awards. For many years he was the host of the People's Choice Awards.

Army Archerd would appear in movies and on TV shows, most often as himself. He made his television debut in an episode of The Roaring Twenties and went onto appear in such shows as Burke's Law, Batman, The Big Valley, That Girl, Mannix, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Adam-12, Murphy Brown, and Ellen. Among the movies he in which he appeared were Teacher's Pet, What a Way to Go,, The Oscar, Planet of the Apes, Wild in the Streets, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, The Devil and Max Devlin, California Suite, and Gable and Lombard.

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