We've Got Hollywood Covered

A Good One Goes

A word to remember my dear friend, Joan Goodman, a talented journalist who died in the early hours of today, of cancer. She was 80, but - until recently, anyway - she looked and seemed more like 65. For 35 years, Joan was one of the foremost practicioners of the premiere form of Hollywood journalism in the modern age: the celebrity profile. She wrote, at length, mainly for British broadsheet papers, but also for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, New York magazine, American Film and countless other outlets of the long form. Celebrities loved her. She had an unusual spark, an immediate likeability, and a decency that radiated outward to celebrities and told them it was safe to talk. She told me that she started writing on a lark, when Woody Allen met her on the street with some mutual friends. He invited her to write about him, just like that. There were lots of episodes in Joan's life like that. Paul McCartney invited her to follow him around for days in the 1980s, and one result was a celebrated account in Playboy in 1984. I met her when I moved to Hollywood and was doing research on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. She was the first to tell me, on the record, that she would never have dreamed of being part of the group, since she was a serious journalist. We hit it off from there. Many years went by and I didn't hear from Joan again until shortly before leaving The Washington Post for the New York Times in 2003. Typical Joan; she generously offered me her old notes on Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was then running for governor. He'd spoken a lot to her, on tape, about his past indiscretions (also for Playboy). We renewed our friendship, and it was only then that I learned that she'd battled cancer. I also learned that she'd lived several interesting lives. Early on, as the child of wealthy New York political poobahs; Franklin Delano Roosevelt used to come by the house to consult with her father. Amelia Earheart (yes!) was her brother's godmother. She went on to marry Lawrence Goodman, the ABC News producer for Howard Cosell; they travelled the country following sports stories. She remembered flirting with Mickey Mantle at spring training early on. She raised three kids, and only then began a career, in midlife, as a journalist. Sadly, Joan's work predates the age of the Internet, so  there is little of her prolific work on line. But I'm here to tell you: the world is a sadder place without her. RIP, Joan.