Furillo Was a Different Type of Columnist

Times Staff Writer

Bud Furillo, who died Monday night, did things a little differently when he was sports editor of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner from 1964 to 1974.

When newspaper columnists take time off, there often is a short note to readers in that same space saying the columnist is on vacation.

Not Furillo.

On the few occasions he took a vacation, he had this note where his column -- "The Steam Room" -- usually ran:

"Bud Furillo's Typewriter Is Broken. His Column Will Resume When It Is Fixed."

Trivia time: Furillo left the Herald Examiner to pursue radio work full time. The person who replaced him enjoyed a certain measure of celebrity in this town and later became a columnist for The Times. Name him.

Memorable night: In 1966, Furillo, then the president of the Southern California Baseball Writers Assn., arranged for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. to entertain at the organization's annual dinner.

"I think it was one of Bud's proudest moments," said Jack Disney, who worked with Furillo at the Herald Examiner. And Sinatra sang a special song about Furillo, written by Jimmy Van Heusen, who with Sammy Cahn had created such standards as "All the Way" and "Come Fly With Me."

Sinatra singing a Van Heusen song about you at a public affair -- not a bad lifetime highlight.

Generous and loyal: Furillo was famous for his moods and quick temper. But he also could be generous. When one Herald Examiner staff member bought a new house, Furillo gave him a bedroom set. When another bought a house, he took care of all the arrangements and expenses for a house-warming party. Another got a Las Vegas honeymoon, courtesy of Furillo.

Rick Odekirk, a former professional baseball player, knows firsthand of Furillo's devotion to his friends. When Odekirk got married in 1996 in Palm Desert, Furillo had to have back surgery the day before. Wincing in pain, he showed up at the wedding in a wheelchair because he promised Odekirk he would be there and serve as the emcee at the reception.

Looking back: On this day in 2002, Tiger Woods, trying to win the third leg of the Grand Slam, shot an 81 in the third round of the British Open at Muirfield in Scotland. The 81, shot in terrible weather conditions, was Woods' worst round as a professional by two shots.

Trivia answer: The late Allan Malamud.

And finally: Furillo, who believed sportswriters did not need to be objective, was a huge fan of USC football and let everyone know it. So he would have enjoyed what Matt Leinart had to say about his successor at quarterback, John David Booty, Wednesday on "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" on ESPN Radio.

"I'm making a prediction," Leinart said. "I think USC is going to win a national championship. To be honest, I don't think there is going to be much of a drop-off at quarterback. I have so much confidence in Booty. Booty is going to be the guy. ... He's going to be a sleeper."


Larry Stewart can be reached at larry.stewart@latimes.com.

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