Legendary Hollywood columnist and chronicler James Bacon died yesterday (or the night before) at age 96. Last night I searched for documentary or talk-show clips of Bacon passing along stories, anecdotes…anything. All I found was this video report of Bacon attending a 4.6.07 ceremony in honor of his getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (somewhere near 1637 Vine Street).

Bacon, whose career rested upon trusted relationships with scores of A-list stars during his peak years, began as a general assignment AP reporter in the 1940s. His Hollywood era spanned from the late ’40s to the mid ’80s, when he was cut loose by the L.A. Herald Examiner. He knew everyone and was liked by all. He operated during an era in which certain columnists and reporters were trusted and “let in.” Those days are completely and totally over.

If Bacon hadn’t aged and had kept his strength up and decided to cash in his relationship chips, he would have been an excellent online columnist. I said “hey, hombre” to Bacon at a couple of Hollywood parties in the early ’80s (when I was working at the Hollywood Reporter), but I never broke bread with the guy. I wish I had.

A roundish portly fellow for much of his professional life, Bacon reportedly enjoyed his libations. Happy imbibers aren’t supposed to last 96 years, so I guess it just came down to good genes. It takes one to know one, I suppose. Good genes are my one ace in the hole. I’ll last until my mid ’90s also, and I won’t quit on this column until I slump over the keyboard. Like Alec Guinness falling on the plunger in The Bridge on the River Kwai, my last act will be to hit “save and publish.”