May 2, 1902
New York, New York, U.S.
|Died||May 3, 1983 (aged 81)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
(1928-1983; his death)
Sidney Skolsky (2 May 1905 - 3 May 1983) was an American writer best known as a Hollywood gossip columnist. He ranked with Hedda Hopper (with whom he shared a birthday) and Louella Parsons as the premier Hollywood gossip columnists of the first three decades of the sound picture era. A radio personality in addition to having his own syndicated newspaper column, Skolsky also was a screenwriter and movie producer who occasionally acted in the radio and in the movies. Skolsky claimed to be the person who gave the nickname "Oscar" to the Academy Award and was credited for the introduction of the use of the word beefcake.
Skolsky was born to a Jewish family, the son of dry goods store proprietor Louis Skolsky and his wife Mildred in New York City. He studied journalism at New York University before becoming a Broadway press agent for the theatrical impresarios Earl Carroll, Sam Harris, and George White. When he became the New York Daily News gossip columnist in 1928, the 23-year-old Skolsky was the youngest Broadway gossip columnist plying his trade on the Great White Way. He also had a Sunday column, "Tintypes", profiles of actors, directors and other production personnel and Hollywood creative types, that continued in print for 52 years, until a couple years before his death.
He moved to Hollywood in 1933, where he moonlighted as a story editor for Darryl F. Zanuck's Twentieth Century Pictures. The New York Daily Mirror hired him away from the Daily News in 1937, and he moved to the New York Post in 1943. United Features syndicated his column to other newspapers. He also had a regular column in Photoplay, the country's premiere movie magazine. His Photoplay column was bylined "From a Stool at Schwab's", the Hollywood drugstore he made famous. He helped promulgate the myth Lana Turner had been discovered there, when it actually had been another Sunset Boulevard establishment, The Top Hat Cafe, which was closer to Lana's alma mater, Hollywood High. He helped champion and was very close to Marilyn Monroe.
While Skolsky might not have created the nickname "Oscar" for the Academy Award, he is the first person to use the nickname in print for Hollywood's premier award, in his 16 March 1934 column. In 1946, he became a movie producer with The Jolson Story (1946), which was nominated for several Academy Awards. He followed it up with 1953 bio The Eddie Cantor Story. Starting in 1954, KABC-TV Los Angeles featured him in his own TV show, Sidney Skolsky's Hollywood. He wrote five books about Hollywood and the movies, including a 1975 autobiography, Don't Get Me Wrong, I Love Hollywood.
Skolsky died in 1983 from complications due to Parkinson's disease and atherosclerosis. He was married for 54 years to the former Estelle Lorenz, with whom he had had two daughters. His writings are part of the permanent collection at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Margaret Herrick Library.
|1932||The Sport Parade||Newsman Sid||Uncredited|
|1933||Hallelujah, I'm a Bum||Minor Role||Uncredited|
|1934||Gift of Gab||Movie Magazine Columnist||Uncredited|
|1941||Tom, Dick and Harry||Photographer||Uncredited|
|1947||The Corpse Came C.O.D.||Himself|
|1961||The Right Approach||Newspaper Columnist||Uncredited|
|1967||Don't Make Waves||Reporter||Uncredited|
|1968||The Legend of Lylah Clare||Himself|