Dave McNary: “Every inch a reporter, the fedora hats and the reporters notebook in his pocket.”

From an obit in Variety by Pat Saperstein and Cynthia Litteton headlined “Dave McNary, Beloved Longtime Film Reporter, Dies at 69”:

Dave McNary, a veteran reporter who tirelessly covered the film and labor beats at Variety for more than 20 years, died Saturday in Pasadena, Calif.

McNary suffered a stroke and had been hospitalized since Dec. 19, according to his wife, Sharon McNary, veteran journalist and KPCC-FM infrastructure correspondent.

McNary had a more than 40-year career in journalism, much of it spent as an entertainment industry business reporter. He worked for UPI, the Los Angeles Daily News, Pasadena Star-News and others before joining Variety in late 1999.

He was a prolific reporter who filed dozens of stories a week, mostly focusing on the independent film business, box office, production in Southern California as well as SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, the Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America and Producers Guild of America. He was known throughout Hollywood’s guild community simply as “Dave” and it was recognized that he understood the inner workings of unions better than many guild employees. . . .

In style and substance, McNary was every inch a reporter, right down to the fedora hats that he favored and the reporters notebook that was ever-present in his pocket. He doggedly covered the action in the corridors of the American Film Market in Santa Monica for many years. He was thrilled to be sent to France to cover the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. In late 2007 and early 2008, he was Variety‘s lead reporter on the 100-day Writers Guild of America strike that up-ended the industry.

McNary had a busy second career in comedy. For three decades, he hosted a Sunday standup comedy showcase at the famed Ice House venue in Pasadena, where he auditioned and booked numerous comics who have gone on to careers in the industry. In the 1970s, he did some work with the Groundlings and with acting coach Gary Austin. He was part of a comedy troupe dubbed the Procrastinators, who made appearances on “The Gong Show” doing out-there acts such as the surf tune “Wipeout” on belly bongos or “Rawhide” on stick horses.

Born David Nathan McNary in Berkeley, Calif., he grew up in San Rafael and Woodland as the oldest of five children. During his middle school years, the family lived in Barcelona, Spain, which left McNary fluent in Spanish. As a youth he was involved in the Boy Scouts and achieved the top rank of Eagle Scout.

After returning to California, McNary wrote for his high school paper and made his way to UCLA. He earned a degree in history and also rose through the ranks to become editor of the Daily Bruin newspaper. He remained an enthusiastic Bruin booster and continued to speak at events for alumni of the Daily Bruin.

Before settling in at UPI, where he met his wife in the early 1990s, McNary worked for the Yuba City Daily Independent Herald, City News Service and the Pasadena Star-News. . . .

A lifelong movie lover and longtime Pasadena resident, he could be found every Saturday night at Pasadena’s Playhouse 7 theater or another nearby venue. Comedies were his favorite, though he saw just about everything, and often consumed popcorn for dinner when at the movies, which he proclaimed was the “dinner of champions.”

He adored his dog Winnie and enjoyed their excursions to the dog park which continued through the pandemic. The New Year’s Eve parties he hosted with Sharon, his wife of 21 years, were legendary, bringing together the comedy, journalism and triathlon worlds with a topical news-oriented theme and decorations.


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