On March 29, as he has done once a year for the last 31, Army Archerd will rise from his desk at Daily Variety and slip into the men’s room to change clothing. There, he will don one of his three tuxedos, slide into his monogrammed velvet pumps, and then zoom off to the Oscars, where he’ll stand, mike in hand, and greet the guests. ”I’m the opening act,” says Archerd, 71, whose cheery chats with the arrivals provide a giddy lead-in to the 9 p.m. EST & ceremony. ”It’s no in-depth interview,” he says, ”but I give the stars a chance to express a little emotion.”
”It’s unthinkable that there would be an Academy Awards ceremony without Army,” says Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Bronx-born, twice-married, Archerd has been waking up Hollywood with his column for 40 years. He maintains his position as Hollywood’s favorite journalist both by what he writes — and what he doesn’t. ”He prints hard news,” says Gregory Peck, ”(not) damaging personal or professional stuff.”
He’s also the stars’ chum — last year he led the crowd outside the Oscars in a rousing rendition of ”Happy Birthday” for Warren Beatty — and they rarely give him grief. ”It’s not like the Grammy Awards — everybody’s on their best behavior,” Archerd says. ”And it’s too early in the day to have much drinking going on.”