Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
At a time when great director is known by one or two films, some of the biggest names in Hollywood turned out Thursday for memorial services for director Howard Hawks - a man whose famous movies run into the double figures.
Men of his circle, John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, were joined by more recent Hollywood names like Peter Bogdanovich, Angie Dickinson and Richard Benjamin who knew Hawks both as man and legend. There, too, were the largely anonymous production and industry people who worked with him and knew firsthand his greatness as a filmmaker.
Howard Hawks, who died Monday at 81, was not the most loved man in Hollywood. Even his admirers admit he was often bullheaded, egotistical and rude. But for a bulky former University of Southern California football player turned actor, Hawks' eye for talent and his ability to bring out that talent will not soon be forgotten.
"Howard was the first director who ever publicly gave credit to me for doing quality work," a gray-haired, bespectacled John Wayne said in the midafternoon drizzle. "Naturally I'm going to be grateful forever for what he did for me. He wasn't there when they were giving out Oscars but his work today is as appreciated as any other."
The movie Wayne was recalling is "Red River," a 1948 ranching Western directed by Hawks. The two men were associated later with other movies, including the 1959 "Rio Bravo," co-starring Dean Martin, and "Rio Lobo," made in 1970, Hawks' last picture.
Perhaps 200 persons, mostly gray-haired and over 60, gathered for the simple 45-minute service at Beverly Hills' All Saints Episcopal Church.
The memorial oration was delivered in short, gnarled sentences by Wayne centering on the needlessness for sadness and griefz. "We all have our thoughts of Howard, really there's no eulogy needed," said Wayne, stepping down from the poinsettia-decked pulpit.
"He was a somewhat remote and austere person in the English style," said Meta Wilde, a former script girl and secretary to Hawks in the late 1930s. "He wore tweed jackets and all that. Although people looked up to him, no one was really close to him. He carried the air of authority with him."
Wilde also knew hawks through her long romance with William Faulkner, who worked on scripts with Hawks and considered him among his few friends in Hollywood. Hawks, rarely one to mince words, said recently he respected Faulkner as much as any man and felt he could have become "one of our greatest scriptwriters."
Hawks also worked with Howard Hughes when the late tycoon was making films in Los Angeles in the 1930s. Although he liked and respected Hughes, Hawks was characteristically acerbic about Hughes' sense of film judgment."Howard didn't know a damn thing about how to made picture," Hawks said last year. "He should have stayed in the oil business. He never made many any money in pictures."
Financially successful himself, Hawks never won an Oscar or gained the recognition he felt he deserved - at least in this country. Yet his influence on film from such movies as "Sergeant York", "The Big Sleep" and "To Have and Have Not'" is undisputed. His disciples, including directors Bogdanovich, Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, carry on in his tradition.
This has been a tough year for the old Hollywood, thatonce romantic place of dreams that now seems more and more like an impersonal factory. Bing Crosby, Groucho Marx and now Howard Hawks have died in the past few months, taking with them some of the magic that once was Hollywood.
This passage out of that much-heralded era was not lost at the service by actor Richard Benjamin, although he never even worked with Hawks on a picture. "The great have gone," Benjamin said sadly. "To me these people were the real humanists. There aren't people like this anymore. It's a vanishing breed."