Eddie Sherman, the longtime three-dot columnist who wrote about celebrities for the Honolulu Advertiser, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and MidWeek, died Tuesday at Straub Hospital following a massive heart attack at home, said his wife, Patty Sherman. He was 88.
His wife found him unconscious in their Ala Moana Boulevard apartment after she returned from work and rushed him to Straub, where he died at 9:30 p.m.
“He choreographed his passing,” said Patty Sherman, his wife of 15 years. “Eddie always wanted to go fast, without pain. And his doctor said that his heart attack was so massive, he didn’t feel pain.”
Sherman had heart issues for years and had a brain tumor removed about a decade ago, but he always had an itch for chatter and a finger on some kind of project.
Sherman was as colorful as the people he wrote about in his columns that appeared first in The Honolulu Advertiser, then the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and, until a few years ago, MidWeek.
He counted many Hollywood stars and famous politicians among his friends and in 2006 wrote the book “Frank, Sammy, Marlon & Me: Adventures in Paradise with the Celebrity Set” based on his interviews over his five decades of column writing. The 200-page book included 30 interviews from Arthur Godfrey to John Wayne.
“Hawaii is so unique in that almost any celebrity you talk to about it say that the people of Hawaii, when they recognize a celebrity, they respect them, they know they are here on vacation and they leave them alone and don’t pester them,” Sherman wrote.
Over time, he became friends with some of the big names in show business, including Marlon Brando, Sammy Davis Jr. and Bette Midler.
Columnist Wayne Harada recalled that Brando and Midler would sneak into the Honolulu Advertiser city room late at night to visit Sherman in his office.
“He was truly passionate about his work and his biggest wish was to make a film about Kui Lee,” Patty Sherman said. Lee was the singer-composer who wrote such tunes as “I’ll Remember You” and “Lahainaluna” that made Don Ho an international star. Eddie Sherman had written a movie script and constantly was pitching it to Hollywood filmmakers.
Sherman was born Eli Sherman on Feb. 22, 1924 in Boston to Russian Jewish immigrant parents who had fled the Cossacks’ anti-Semitic persecution, but they were so poor that Sherman was raised in a Boston orphanage, he told MidWeek in a 2006 interview. He enlisted in the Coast Guard, but was sidetracked with a shoulder injury from a boxing match and took a job as a sheet metal helper at the age of 17 in 1942. He also worked as a radio announcer for KGU.
Sherman quit and returned to Boston in 1949 where he worked as a comedian and actor.
When he returned to Hawaii in 1955 Honolulu Advertisers editors George Chaplin and Buck Buchwach gave him a start as a three-dot columnist.
Veteran promoter and disc jockey Tom Moffatt recalled that Sherman as one of his oldest friends. “We go way back to the mid-1950s when were both working at KGU,” Moffatt said.
“In 1955 we had an early show called ‘Breakfast in Waikiki’ at the Moana Hotel where we would interview guests. It was a very successful show.”
Moffatt said just a few weeks ago he invited Sherman to the 40th anniversary of the Presley concert, but he declined, saying “he was under the weather.”
In a 2005 column for MidWeek, Sherman wrote that one of his biggest achievements was his involvement in the Elvis Presley concert broadcast worldwide from the Neal Blaisdell Center in 1973.
“I had started the Kui Lee Cancer Fund (thru my column) for a doctor at the UH doing cancer research. Lee was the legendary songwriter who died of cancer at 34. In the TV concert, Elvis sang Kui’s most famous tune — ‘I’ll Remember You,’ to millions of global viewers. Thanks to Elvis and Col. Tom Parker, his manager, I received (for the fund) a check for $75,000 from the live concert gate. Because it was a television broadcast, there was no charge. The audience was allowed in via their own contributions. Some kids saw the show for only 10 cents. Next day, Elvis and the Colonel took out full-page newspaper ads thanking Hawaii.”
Sherman did not want public services after his death, so private rites will be held after his cremation. Burial will be in a Nuuanu family plot.
“He used to say, ‘Take my ashes, go to the bathroom at the Royal Hawaiian (Hotel), and flush it … right into the ocean,” Patty Sherman said. But his final resting place will be in a cemetery in Nuuanu, where his mother-in-law, Yoshie Hoshino, 96, has nine plots.
“My mom invited him to be part of the family plot, and he was thrilled; he always thought she would go first, but was happy to know he would be buried — among family.”
Survivors include a daughter, Kerry English, of California, and a son, Shawn Sherman, of Las Vegas; and several grandchildren.