(AP) Vernon Scott, a colorful United Press International (UPI) columnist who reported on Hollywood and its celebrities for half a century, died Monday in a Los Angeles hospital, his family said. He was 79.
Scott was hospitalized Oct. 18 with pancreatitis and had been in intensive care for three weeks.
Scott worked for UPI for 52 years, reporting on every major celebrity of his time, including John Wayne, Charles Bronson, and Frank Sinatra. One of his personal favorites was Marilyn Monroe.
“In the end, Vernon became as much a part of the history of the movie business as the stars he wrote about,” said Tobin Beck, UPI’s executive editor.
He also co-wrote a best-selling book about the late actress Jill Ireland’s battle with cancer that led to the 1991 television movie, “Reason for Living: The Jill Ireland Story.”
During his years at UPI’s Los Angeles bureau, he was witness to many of the events that changed Hollywood, including the decline of the studio system and its powerful bosses who once closely controlled the lives of movie stars, the dawn of television, and the public’s brief fascination with 3-D movies.
He also rivaled The Associated Press’ veteran Hollywood reporter, Bob Thomas, for the number of Academy Awards ceremonies covered, staffing 50 during his career.
“Vernon and I competed fiercely for 50 years,” said Thomas, who covered his 58th Academy Awards last year. “We repeatedly scooped each other, but our competition never interfered with our warm friendship. Vernon knew how to write a story and how to do interviews without making people mad at him.”
Scott’s byline not only appeared in newspapers large and small, but for many years he also voiced broadcast versions of his reports for radio.
He also reported on politics, including the major parties’ political conventions.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Scott saw military service in World War II and the Korean War.
He is survived by his son, Vernon Scott IV; grandson, Oliver; and daughter, Ashley. The two children came from his third marriage to noted painter, Jane Wooster Scott.