Marilyn Beck, who The New York Times says introduced “a style of impartial journalism to the celebrity gossip beat,” has died. Beck died Saturday of lung cancer at her home in Oceanside, Calif., the paper reports. She was 85.
Beck’s syndicated columns reached 20 million readers in hundreds of newspapers during her peak in the 1970s and 1980s, the piece notes. She also hosted specials on NBC and appeared on “PM Magazine” and E! Channel’s “Gossip Show.”
The Times writes: “In the 1960s and ’70s, her straightforward style earned her the trust of many celebrities with stories to tell. Elvis Presley gave her his first interview after being discharged from the Army in 1960. Dick Van Dyke publicly revealed his struggles with alcoholism in an interview with her. And before supermarket tabloids got wind of it, Michael Landon told Ms. Beck about his dependence on prescription pills.”
She became a Hollywood columnist for the Bell-McClure syndicate in 1967, after writing freelance pieces for newspapers and fan magazines.
“The day of the wicked whisper is passed,” she told Editor and Publisher magazine in 1969. “But gossip based on fact will continue as long as there is a Hollywood. Gossip is news.”