Plain and simply, Eddie Sherman — who died Tuesday (Jan. 22) following a massive stroke at age 88 — was a pioneer and champion of the three-dot column here. You know, the newspaper column that relies on chatter, gossip, and observations of celebrities, resident or visiting.
Eddie, who emulated and personalized the reportage of his generation’s pioneers Walter Winchell and Earl Wilson, was one of a kind.
Without Eddie, there would not be a Wayne Harada, Tom Horton, George Daacon, Don Chapman, Dave Donnelly or Ben Wood.
Eddie created the mold.
And Eddie set the standard, the formula, the readership of the column with bold-faced names of people we’re all interested in. What they do, what they wear, what they buy, where they eat, who they’re having their relationships with, what they’re thinking.
His was the go-to column, to discover the rumors, the ways and manners of the famous and not so famous.
Sometimes he’d dish; sometimes he’d rave; sometimes he’d uncork a scolding of sorts.
Or he would wax poetic, reminiscing about a Waikiki that was changing, a Waikiki that was once glamorous but perhaps becoming tarnished.
He knew darn nearly everyone, from governors to mayors and other politicos, from union honchos to restaurateurs, from entertainers to business folks, from media mavens to public servants.
Yes, he was an inspiration when I started out doing the three-dots thing. You know, the ... (three dots) between “items.”
At the old Honolulu Advertiser, where he and I got our starts, he was eager to take in a newbie.
When he moved to the Star-Bulletin, we became rivals in reality, but not in life. We’d break bread together, not regularly but frequently.
When his column appeared in MidWeek, he’d often call on a slow day: “You got an item to share?”
To like Eddie is to know him. He could be brash, assertive or, yes, occasionally offensive. But beneath that veneer, he was a pussycat, a gentle man, a caring soul.
In that respect, he was honest to a fault. His principles occasionally were misinterpreted or misread by some.
He used to kid me when introducing me to his pals: “He is my illegitimate son from a previous relationship,” he would say. Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle.
I was not offended; that sentiment was a seal of approval, an indication that I mattered and he cared.
If he snubbed you, there might have been a valid reason. If he was distant and silent and non-communicative to you, ditto.
He adored tennis, but I didn’t. So he played with his pals and visiting notables. This was his golf, a means to ferret out items for his columns.
He befriended a whole bunch of Hollywood and New York folks, and one of my enduring memories of my stint at the paper was when — separately — Bette Midler and Marlon Brandon appeared in the newsroom in search of his office.
Above everything else, he was a character — whether it was a nightclub, a restaurant, a hotel ballroom or the theater, Eddie would work the room, looking for somebody he knew, immediately start up a conversation. He was the sultan of schmooze.
And his column was a must-read for two-generations of newspaper readers over his 50-year career. His scribblings were kind of a historical document of who, what, and where it was, hot and happening.
His adoring wife, Patty, was the best thing ever to happen him in their 15-year marriage; she cherished him but also nourished him, dutifully steering him away from edibles bad for him, making sure he had his insulin shots.
How did they meet? She bid $5 at a charity event to dance with him — no one had bid for him — and it’s the best five bucks she ever spent.
“I had the ride of my life,” she said of their brief time together.
To remember and honor him, the Hawaii Theatre put his name in lights on its marquee as soon as word was out that Eddie had passed. Burton White, the theater’s general manager, said Eddie’s name would be displayed for a few days — a request Eddie made to Burton after the marquee tribute was accorded to Eddie’s late pal, publicist Lisa Josephsohn.
After all, Eddie was somebody everybody knew. And a star in his own right. Knowing him, he’s already schmoozing with everyone who preceded him in death. And doing a heavenly version of his column.