Dave McNary, a longtime film reporter for Variety, died on Saturday at the age of 69 in Pasadena, California. McNary had been in the hospital following a stroke on Dec. 19, according to his wife, journalist Sharon McNary.
“I couldn’t be there, due to pandemic safety rules, but he wasn’t alone, the caring medical pros of Huntington Hospital were there with him,” Sharon McNary said on Facebook. “I’m very sad to have lost Dave. I’ll have more to say later, but for now I want to say that I feel good that I got him to laugh in our last video visit, something he hadn’t done before.”
McNary’s journalism career spanned more than 40 years and included stops at UPI, the Los Angeles Daily News and Pasadena Star-News, among other outlets. He spent the last 21 years of his career at Variety, where he was focused on the box office, independent movie business, film production, and unions like SAG-AFTRA.
Tributes to McNary started rolling in soon after the news of his death. “He was unfailingly kind, generous with his sourcing, and was such a cheerleader for everyone’s work,” Variety editor-at-large Kate Arthur tweeted. “Sending my deepest condolences to his wife and the McNary family.”
Deeply saddened to hear that my Variety colleague Dave McNary has passed away: both an excellent entertainment reporter of the old school and an all-round gentleman, always so generous and positive to work with. My thoughts are with his family and other loved ones.
— Guy Lodge (@GuyLodge) December 26, 2020
One of my nicest colleagues and hardest working reporter has died. Dammit. RIP Dave McNary
— Shali (@shaldore) December 26, 2020
I was nervous to start my job at Variety two summers ago, but Dave McNary sat near me, and was just lovely to me. He was unfailingly kind, generous with his sourcing, and was such a cheerleader of everyone's work. Sending my deepest condolences to his wife and the McNary family. https://t.co/5z16alkHnE
— Kate Aurthur (@KateAurthur) December 26, 2020
I am devastated to hear of Dave's passing. He was a great reporter and a kind soul. I remember a few months after I left Variety I returned to PMC, and he was the first familiar face I saw and he greeted me warmly. My condolences to his family. https://t.co/1HKlyswV0p
— Lawrence Yee (@lawryee) December 26, 2020
Heartbroken about the passing of @Variety’s Dave McNary. He had a few years on me but I’m still looking at it as proof that only the good die young. Few if any on our staff were as beloved, and there is no way to calculate or describe the hole he leaves. His memory is a blessing.
— Chris Willman (@ChrisWillman) December 26, 2020
Born David Nathan McNary in Berkeley, CA., McNary grew up in San Rafael and Woodland as the oldest of five kids, according to Variety. After his family moved to Barcelona, Spain while he was in middle school, McNary became fluent in Spanish. After coming back to California, McNary wrote for his high school newspaper and later headed to UCLA, where he earned a history degree. McNary was also an editor at the Daily Bruin.
Beyond his long career in journalism, McNary also spent years in the comedy business. He hosted a Sunday standup comedy showcase at the Ice House in Pasadena for three decades, and was also part of a comedy troupe called The Procrastinators, who made an appearance on “The Gong Show.”
McNary is survived by his wife and his four sisters, Nancy McNary Leach, Barbara McNary Spindler, Jane McNary O’Meara and Patti McNary.