I lost a friend this week, Cari Beauchamp, who left us too soon at age 74. I treasured her as someone who not only shared my passion for cinema and Hollywood history, but also deep-seated values.

Cari and I had much in common. Our roots were in the freewheeling ’60s and ’70s, when we protested the Vietnam War, wore our brown hair long and our skirts short. We both started out in publicity, but I worked for the studios and she was California Governor Jerry Brown’s press secretary.

She had more husbands than I did, and two sons to my one daughter, of whom we were equally proud. We shared holiday meals, long phone calls, evening wine and cheese amid the scarlet roses on her patio, and countless poker games. She loved to garden, and to smoke cigarettes (which she eventually gave up), and to swim. The last time I saw her was at a lovely pool in Hancock Park. She was ailing, but was blissful in the water.

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 30:  A view of Cari Beauchamp's book at Cari Beauchamp book signing during day 3 of the TCM Classic Film Festival 2016 on April 30, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. 25826_007  (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Turner)
Cari Beauchamp book signing during the TCM Classic Film Festival 2016 Getty Images for Turner

Cari and I both wrote about film, but she also wrote books: well-researched, elegant, and erudite. I loved her book on Cannes, co-written with Henri Behar, “Hollywood on the Riviera: The Inside Story of the Cannes Film Festival” (1992). Cari and I spent many happy hours together at that festival. (Were we drinking wine? Yes.) The book that landed on The Hollywood Reporter’s Top 100 Best Film Books of all Time list was her seminal volume on women in the movies, “Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Woman of Early Hollywood” (1997). I knew something was wrong when Cari didn’t attend Scott Feinberg’s panel of writers at the AFI Fest on October 28. If she could have, she would have.

Cari also wrote and produced a 2001 documentary about Marion for TCM based on the book, which earned a WGA nomination.

A tireless workhorse, Cari regularly delivered freelance stories for Vanity Fair and other outlets including IndieWire. She was able to do what many younger writers could not: put current Hollywood in context.

Her heart was in the classics. She served for years as the resident scholar of the Mary Pickford Foundation. She was friends with many Hollywood veterans. She was writing a book about Gloria Swanson. And every spring she looked forward to moderating countless panels at the TCM Film Festival. These were her people.

She was close to many executives at the Academy and was its ceaseless critic, a gadfly of the organization she loved. She was generous to many of her media colleagues, sharing info, tips, information, and contacts. (She could also be critical of those who fell short on the job.)

She understood better than most exactly how Hollywood functions, the psychology of the people who run the industry and make the movies. She will be sorely missed.

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