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by Sarah Collings, Reporter
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Tributes have been paid to showbiz journalist, former Hampstead resident and one-time Ham&High reporter David Lewin, who has died in his sleep aged 89.
Mr Lewin became famous for his in-depth interviews of Hollywood stars, many of whom would become his friends.
“You name it they were his friends, he was at the centre of everything,” said Ruth Gorb, a close friend and a former gardening columnist for the Ham&High. “He was Mr Showbiz in the 1970s he really was.”
Mr Lewin started out as a reporter at the Ham&High before becoming a film and entertainment correspondent for the nationals after the Second World War. He went on to write for the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Mail and spend four decades jetting across the Atlantic to report the big entertainment stories.
In 1951, in the days when reporters kept their distance, he flew to the jungle to cover The African Queen, which starred Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart.
He forged friendships with Hollywood greats from Liz Taylor to Bernard Delfont, the entertainment mogul, and was famous around Hampstead for his parties at his home in Hollycroft Avenue.
“He wasn’t glamorous, he was very down to earth, extremely funny with a wealth of stories,” said Mrs Gorb.
Retired Ham&High editor Gerald Isaaman recalled Mr Lewin’s honesty and integrity.
“In the days before reporters used phone hacking to achieve exclusives, he gained the confidence of Hollywood and British stars, film directors and writers to produce interviews that stand the tough test of time and honesty,” he said.
“In that sense, he was among the last of a classic breed of pure reporters who wanted to inform as well as fascinate.”
Only on one occasion as a rookie reporter at the Ham&High did Mr Lewin slip up and get found out.
Having reported that “nothing happened” at a church meeting in Hampstead it turned out the church hall had burnt down, recalled Mr Isaaman.
“David had skipped the event perhaps thinking he was destined for much bigger things. “And indeed he was, the glamorous world of interviewing the stars earning him their respect and justified recognition as a formidable journalist.”
Mr Lewin moved to West London in his twilight years after the death of his wife Betty.
He is survived by two sons, Nicholas and Guy.