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Hy Gardner, 80; Newspaper Celebrity Columnist

June 20, 1989|From Staff and Wire Reports

MIAMI — Hy Gardner, a newspaper columnist whose chronicling of the lives of celebrities made him a television celebrity himself, has died of pneumonia at age 80.

Gardner wrote a column on Broadway during the 1950s and 1960s for the New York Herald Tribune, and out of it he spun a New York television show, "Hy Gardner Calling," featuring celebrities of the day.

In 1956 he became one of the original panelists (with Polly Bergen, Hildy Parks, Ralph Bellamy and Kitty Carlisle) on the highly successful and often imitated panel quiz show "To Tell the Truth."

He also was a guest columnist on "Tonight! America After Dark," which replaced Steve Allen's "Tonight" show for six months in 1957, and "What's Going On?" a short-lived game show in 1954.

More recently, Gardner wrote the syndicated column "Glad You Asked That" with his wife, Marilyn. In the column, Gardner answered questions about celebrities.

Gardner had a folksy style of writing in which he spun off jokes that had been triggered by a celebrity's remarks or style. A native of New York, he had lived in Miami since 1966.

"A class gent. He did his job and didn't have to become a shark," comedian Jerry Lewis told the Miami Herald.

Gardner graduated from George Washington High School in New York and took journalism classes at night at Columbia University. He later opened an advertising agency and began to do interviews and entertainment commentaries for radio stations.

After moving to Miami, he helped to establish television station WCIX and profiled such celebrities as Jackie Gleason and Imogene Coca.

In 1963 he was cast as a reporter in Mickey Spillane's film mystery "The Girl Hunters."

Gardner conducted interviews in the late 1960s and early 1970s at the Doral Hotel. His radio program, "Hy Gardner Celebrity Party," was broadcast nationally over the Mutual Broadcasting System.

In recent years, Gardner maintained a slower pace.

"He'd slowed down quite a bit, but he did a lot of reading and kept up with things," his wife said.

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