BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- Bob Thomas, who has covered entertainment for The Associated Press for more than 60 years, was honored with the special award of merit at the 46th annual Publicists Guild Awards.

Thomas, who joined the AP in 1944, shared stories of measuring pinup Betty Grable's waistline and a stolen kiss with June Haver as he accepted his award Wednesday.

The 86-year-old reporter, who has been honored with a star on Hollywood's walk of fame, still covers entertainment for AP.

While his father and brother were members of the publicists guild, "I went straight," Thomas said.

John Shaffner, president of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, presented Thomas with his award, calling him "a man who has left his imprint on the way news about Hollywood is reported."

Thomas made his mark by engaging celebrities in activities that brought out their personalities, whether by measuring their waistline after childbirth (as he did with Grable) or testing just how tall a leading lady needed to be by kissing her himself (as he did with Haver).

"Bob is the granddaddy of creative entertainment journalism," said USA Today entertainment reporter and former AP staffer Anthony Breznican, who cites Thomas as a mentor. "He draws out the facts with imagination, telling the story of the storytellers by putting them in interesting situations, and taking the readers along for the ride."

Thomas called the honor "truly great."

"I appreciate it and I'm sure my father and brother are looking down," he said. "I've been doing this for 64 years, and I'm still doing it."

Other honorees at the Publicists Guild luncheon included comedy producer Chuck Lorre, longtime Variety editor Peter Bart and film producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall.