Frank Barron, who guided the Hollywood Reporter in two separate stints and whose long career embraced time as a newspaper and magazine writer, rock publicist, TV show creator and more, died Oct. 23. He was 98 and died of natural causes after a short stay at the Sepulveda VA hospice unit in North Hills, according to his family.
Barron was the editor of the Hollywood Reporter on two separate occasions, serving from 1964 to 1968 and again in the 1970s. In between, he also ran several magazines for Billboard Publications. His journalism career spanned 70 years and he was fairly active until near his end, his family said.
Born in Elizabeth, N.J. in February, 1919, Barron was the second son of Sarah and Israel Goldberg. His journalism career began early, as he sold stories to Boys Life magazine and covered sports for the Newark Evening News.
After joining the US Army in 1941, Barron was stationed in England and served in the Medical Corps. administration. He got out in 1945 and became the sports editor for an Asbury Park. N.J. newspaper, then took a government job running several Air Force base newspapers in Tokyo. That led him to California a year later and the start of a career spanning many roles in the entertainment industry.
“I got my foot in the Hollywood door when I met Ray Brenner, and we teamed as comedy writers,” Barron told his family. “An agent signed us and we wrote for radio shows for Red Skelton, Edgar Bergen, Duffy’s Tavern, Fibber McGee & Molly, Martin & Lewis.”
He then transitioned to television, writing for The Jerry Colonna Show and The Pinky Lee Show, among other ventures. He also wrote for the local NBC variety show Komedy Kapers, a KRCA show that nurtured talent before it appeared on national TV. “I was set to direct it, but Jerry Lewis took over so he could get experience for his DGA card. I never forgave him for that missed opportunity,” Barron recalled.
During that period, he wrote Woody Woodpecker and Hanna-Barbera cartoon storylines for his pal, Joe Barbera. Barron also appeared in the film The Man with Bogart’s Face, which was written and produced by his friend, Andrew J. Fenady.
He later created the western series The Man From Blackhawk. “It was produced by Herb Meadow (Have Gun, Will Travel). It was unique, about an insurance investigator in the Old West. It lasted a full season, 37 episodes, but a six-month writers strike killed it,” Barron said.
When Barron transitioned to a job as the publicity director at KHJ TV and radio (now KCAL), he was noticed by Hollywood Reporter editor Don Carle Gillette, who groomed Barron to take over as editor when he retired.
Barron worked as THR editor from 1964 to 1969, then worked with Norman Lear’s television company before becoming news director for Billboard Publications, eventually taking over the Hollywood Reporter again for an undetermined period in the ’70s. He also worked for the Gibson & Stromberg PR firm, one of the top music firms during rock’s ’60s and ’70s heyday. Barron claimed it was the most fun he ever had.
When he was 61, Barron married publicist Margie Platt at the home of Shirley Jones and Marty Ingels. He also began freelancing for a variety of publications.
Survivors include his wife, Margie; sister-in-law, Mary Lou Platt Krewson; niece Ruth Goldberg Smith; and cousins Barry Allen and Dr. Howard Feldman. A celebration of Frank Barron’s life will be held on Feb. 5 to mark his birthday, the family said.