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Obituaries : George Eells, 72; Hollywood Biographer

George Eells, biographer for such luminaries as gossip columnists Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper, songsmith Cole Porter and actress Mae West, has died in a New York hospital. He was 72.

He died Sunday of pneumonia that followed complications from brain surgery last June.

Eells’ best-known book probably was the account he wrote of Porter, “The Life That Late He Led,” published in 1967.

Eells’ “Hedda and Louella” showed how Hollywood reacted to the two powerful syndicated columnists--with fear and hate. The book served as the basis for a 1985 television movie about the two women titled “Malice in Wonderland.”

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His “Mae West: A Biography” was written with Stanley Musgrove in 1982, two years after the colorful entertainer’s death.

Eels also chronicled the strange death of actor Gig Young in “Last Gig,” helped singer Ethel Merman write “Merman: An Autobiography” and Anita O’Day record her reminiscences of Gene Krupa, Stan Kenton and Billie Holiday in “High Times, Hard Times.”

A contributor to several magazines, Eells also wrote scripts for the television series “This Is Your Life.”

He is survived by his longtime companion, Aurand Harris.

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