Queer Places:
The Motion Picture & Television Country House, 23388 Mulholland Dr, Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Herb Sterne (January 6, 1906 - June 4, 1995) was an Hollywood publicist who touted such films as “Born Yesterday” and “My Fair Lady” and represented such stars as Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford and Judy Holliday.

Herb's sister, Meta, had been John Ford's script girl from 1936 and had earlier worked at Universal, where her films included The Phantom of the Opera (1925). Herb was always a film enthusiast, and she helped him find work as an extra in the late 1920s.

Sterne began his career as a drama and film critic for a Calcutta newspaper and then Rob Wagner’s Hollywood magazine “Script,” for which Herb wrote in the 1930s and 1940s. He also contributed a society column under the name of Dan Rich. Sterne wrote the play “Six of Onem,” which was produced in Los Angeles in 1937.

Herb organized the first D.W. Griffith retrospective, at the University of Southern California, in the early 1940s. The director attended screenings, accompanied by Lillian Gish, Jean Renoir, Preston Sturges, and Dudley Nichols.

Herb Sterne double-dated with Lillian Gish, D.W. Griffith and Griffith's wife Evelyn in the 1940s. Lillian and Herb corresponded on a regular basis, with most of the former's comments directed to Herb's cat, Squire Bartlett, and signed Anna Moore (Way Down East was Herb's favorite film.) When Lillian did the Blackglama advertisement, "What Becomes a Legend Most?", she sent a copy to Squire with the inscription, "My fur vs yours. How's this for the cat's meow?" It was that sort of relationship that Herb enjoyed with Lillian. Herb Stern remembered that once at Pickfair, Gish chastised Mary Pickford for giving a pension to an American Biograph actress. "She had the same opportunities as us," argued Lillian. "No, we had talent," responded Pickford.

In 1942, Herb became a critic with The Hollywood Reporter. Sterne joined Columbia Pictures as a publicist in 1944 and remained there until 1956 when he went to Europe as a free-lance publicist, working on such films as “Love in the Afternoon.” At Columbia, he publicized the films “Gilda,” “The Jolson Story” and “It Should Happen to You” as well as “Born Yesterday.” His later film publicity credits included “A Touch of Mink,” “Gypsy” and “Charade,” and his last film assignment was “Gambit” in 1966.

Late in the 1980s, whenever she was in town, Lillian Gish would have lunch with Herb. At the time Herb was a resident of the Motion Picture Country House and another resident, Mary Astor, also joined them on occasions.

He died on June 4, 1995, in Woodland Hills. After his death, Anthony Slide inherited Herb's cherished memorabilia, including one of Pickford's curls. According to Herb, one evening at dinner he had chastised the actress for giving a curl to the Los Angeles Country Museum of Natural History but not to him. Pickford ordered the butler to bring a pair of scissors, and then and there she cut off a curl for Herb. The hair was subsequently carefully boxed and "laquered" by the hairdressing department at Columbia. Madge Kennedy belonged to the era when gentlemen drank chapagne from the shoes of Broadway leading ladies. Madge's longtime friend, Herb Stern, always wanted to drink from the high-heeled shoes she had worn in her 1915 comedy Fair and Warmer. When she died, Madge left those shoes to Herb, and after Stern's death, they went to Slide.

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