As a kid sportswriter covered with hayseed from a tiny San Joaquin Valley hamlet near Fresno, I was awed, intimidated, even frightened by the person who ruled my life in my early moments at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.

As sports editor of the newspaper, Bud Furillo not only was my boss, but this commanding figure also was in control of my daily moods.

Praise from him for one of my stories would fill me with euphoria, while a rebuke would send me into a dark spiral of depression that Furillo himself, realizing he was responsible for it, inevitably would bring me out of with kind words to gloss over the mean ones.

I idolized Furillo in those days, an acolyte following the master, living near him in Downey, serving as his chauffeur on occasion, accompanying him on his nocturnal drinking forays at places like the Stardust and Lancer Lounge and the Fireside, marveling at his journalistic skills in which he could write his column in less than 30 minutes and make up an entire sports page in half that time.

I had never been around anyone who wielded such power and had so many influential contacts, and it was a compelling experience for me one evening when I was with Bud and we had dinner in the Dodger Stadium press room with the legendary columnist Walter Winchell, or another time in New York when we had drinks with Toots Shor at his famed restaurant, or another time in the same city when he took me over to Jack Dempsey's Broadway joint to meet the former world heavyweight champion.

The death of Bud Furillo the other day brought back a dazzling panorama of memories, many happy ones, some bittersweet ones, others that have been kept hidden away in the deepest recesses of my subconscious.

He was a unique character and certainly a complex one, with dramatic shifts of temperament in which he could cruelly censure you one moment - I remember his reducing one of his favorites, the late columnist Allan Malamud, to tears on more than one occasion - and then putting his arm warmly around you the next and telling you how much he liked you and appreciated your prose.

It was undeniably exciting, yet at times downright harrowing working for Furillo in those early days at the Herald Examiner - he would permanently depart the newspaper in June of 1974 for sports talk radio - but his impact on me was overwhelming.

Of course, it was he who hired me and gave me my early beats, boxing, the Lakers and UCLA football and basketball before assigning me to the Rams in 1972, a decision that would result in my moving to Long Beach - the Rams trained here that summer - where I have remained ever since.

It was Furillo who introduced me to my first serious L.A. lady friend, Joanne Cole, a former model who was Jack Kent Cooke's secretary before becoming a successful Beverly Hills real estate broker and who introduced the naive, wide-eyed young sportswriter from Fowler to fashionable stores like Fred Segal's on Melrose and to glamorous restaurants like Steve Crane's Luau in Beverly Hills and Matteo's in Westwood and Sneeky Pete's on Sunset Blvd., which became a particular favorite of mine.

It even was Furillo who was responsible for my meeting my first wife, Melita Stamm, a Munich native who resided in Long Beach when I met her too soon in my wildly untamed days. One Friday morning when I was working a desk shift at the Herald Examiner, Furillo came in around 10 o'clock and told me I could have the rest of the day off if I'd deliver the new Sports Illustrated issue with the race driver, Peter Revson, on the cover to Revson at the car dealership he owned with Peyton Cramer out in Harbor City.

Well, I did so - Revson was absent and tragically would die two years later during a practice run in Johannesburg, South Africa - and gave the magazine to the DMV gal at the agency who I would marry a year later.

It was Furillo - along with Melvin Durslag and later Jim McCormack - who would have a strong journalistic influence on me, and the remembrances of him could fill a set of encyclopedias.

You never will forget his theatrically grand entrances at the Thursday night fights at the Olympic Auditorium, almost like a Mafia chieftain with a large entourage that included people like Johnny Ortiz, Joe Dee Fox, Surl Kim, Rudy Flores, Chuck Kahn, Sal Palumbo and so many others.

You never will forget those early morning powwows we'd have at a small diner near the Herald Examiner, when he'd take Malamud, Steve Bisheff, Mitch Chortkoff, Jim Perry and myself out to breakfast.

You never will forget answering the phone at the Herald Examiner, and the caller, Elvis Presley, asking to talk to Bud, which I later would find out wasn't so unusual, since Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra also were known to buzz Furillo at the newspaper.

You never will forget those memorable Friday lunches we'd have so often at Little Joe's on North Broadway, as Bud would bring favored members of his staff to the popular restaurant and always would pick up the large tab.

You never will forget how angry you would become at Bud - especially once when you were on vacation and he ordered you to write a Sunday boxing column - and how close you came to joining a Beverly Hills public relations firm in the fall of 1973, a decision you blessedly rescinded at the last moment.

You never will forget how Bud staked you to an RF&B honeymoon - room, food and beverage comped - at the long-gone Landmark Hotel in Las Vegas where Jimmy (The Greek) Snyder worked and how often his noble acts of kindness would far exceed his cruel behavior to his subjects.

You never will forget the definitive imprimatur he had on a great sports section that maintained its stature even after his departure, and those he weaned and scolded and praised include such print media folk as Malamud, Bisheff, Chortkoff, Bob Keisser, Steve Harvey, Tom Singer, Richard Levin, Jack Disney, Dave Kirby and Larry Stewart, as well as radio and TV personality Steve Hartman.

You never will forget the Front Page uniqueness that was the old Herald Examiner that died on Nov. 2, 1989, and whose sports section's heart and soul and driving force, Bud Furillo, died on a July morning during the sweltering summer of 2006 that suddenly also has turned sad. ...

Doug Krikorian can be reached at