James Bacon

2 minute read
Alexandra Silver

“It was so much easier back in the ’50s, the end of the golden era,” Hollywood reporter and columnist James Bacon told the Los Angeles Times in the decidedly ungolden ’90s. “Stars loved the press, and the press loved stars.”

Bacon, who died in California Sept. 18 at 96, knew of what he spoke. In a recent column, reflecting on his more than 60 years covering celebrities, he wrote that John “Duke” Wayne “would hug you and break a rib. He broke one of mine with an affectionate hug once.”

A reporter for the AP and later a columnist for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Bacon was on familiar terms with Tinseltown’s most glamorous inhabitants: Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart. Forget just writing about tippling A-listers; he drank with them. His access was such that he could identify reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes’ voice–which in the early ’70s helped confirm that a so-called authorized autobiography of Hughes was anything but. Bacon’s intimate relationships with celebrities gave him not only scoops but also plenty of fodder for later books. In 1976’s Hollywood Is a Four Letter Town, he wrote he’d once had an affair with Marilyn Monroe.

Perhaps it was inevitable that this chronicler of movie legends would become something of a legend himself. In 2007, Bacon received his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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