Pete Hammond Remembers Ronni Chasen

Showbiz Publicists Help Ronni Chasen’s Firm
R.I.P. Ronni Chasen
Oscar Publicist Ronni Chasen Shot And Killed In Beverly Hills Driving Back From ‘Burlesque’ Premiere In Hollywood

Of all my time in this business I can think of no one more dedicated to her clients, more doggedly determined to help them achieve their goals. In many ways, Ronni always reminded me of a sort of lost breed of press agent and she would always bend over backwards to help with a story. She also had the driest, most acerbic sense of humor. Yes she was no bullshit and very straightforward. She was persistent, yes, but also knew when to hold back. This is unbelievable to think I won’t be seeing her anymore. There was barely an event, an awards show, a premiere, a party, or any number of press things where I didn’t see her. The last was the Governors Awards Saturday. Recently we met in the Polo Lounge with her longtime client Dick Zanuck. She told me she couldn’t think of three other times in the decades she had been working with him that he agreed to an interview like that. And then when the story ran, she emailed me from Paris where she was travelling to say he really liked it.

She always made me feel special. As a film music fan, I was particularly thrilled several years ago when she invited me backstage at the Hollywood Bowl to meet her client John Williams (she handled many of the A-list composers). She took a photo of us together and sent it to me. I still have it. More than anything she was a personal friend. Madelyn and I often had dinner with her (she wasn’t afraid to be brutally honest with the waiters). We celebrated birthdays together. And there was always her annual Holiday party at her condo on Wilshire in Westwood. Such a great mix of people. One year when a guest inadvertently spilled red wine on her brand new white sofa pillow, she didn’t freak out (okay, maybe a little) but quickly went into action with baking soda to try to salvage it. I have fond memories just this Labor Day riding with Ronni and her client Bonnie Arnold on the shuttle for the two hour ride from the Telluride Film Festival to the Montrose airport where we played Oscar trivia games in the back of the bus. I will be eternally grateful to have known Ronni and to have had her as a friend, a real friend. And now this. It’s a sick world.

    1. Pete:

      I find it difficult to express my grief and concern over this senseless brutal act of violence. I share your sentiments about Ronni completely. You describe her personality accurately. I always welcomed hearing from her because she was always kind and supportive word even in difficult situations.


  1. Thank you Pete. Ronni was so special. She was a throwback to another time and yet was completely modern and immersed in the present. She loved this business with such zest and passion. She never let stupid things get in her way. She understood knowledge was power and with her clients she devoted herself tirelessly. I loved lunching with her on the patio at Orsos as she explained to me the who, what, where of this business.

    My heart goes out to Jeff, her family and all who loved her so. She was the real deal.

  2. nice tribute, pete. here at weissman/markovitz, we are staggering over this loss as we all have known ronnie for so long. 30 years, more or less. she was a classic and will remain a standard for the dedication and passion she had for her clients and this business.

  3. Pete – my condolences go out to Madelyn and you…and of course the countless other people she left behind loving her.

  4. Pete, Wonderful story, right on the money about Ronni. This is a tragic day for the entertainment industry that she loved so much. Such a violent,unecessary way for someone that cared for so many to die. She treated people with kindness(other than perhaps some waiters)advice and a helping hand. And as for her “dry & asceric” sense of humor, she would talk about retiring but that the “motion picture home would never work because their closets were too small for all of her clothes.” A life well lived, shortened too soon. May her soul rest in peace.
    Lynne Segall

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. It touched my heart. My heart goes out to her family and friends. It is super, super tough to experience the sudden loss that comes with death. It is even harder when the person was murdered.

  6. I certainly don’t operate in the stratosphere that Pete glides thru, but Ronni always extended the same courtesy and professionalism. She treated us journalists with respect and earned coverage for her clients the old-fashioned way: through a clear understanding of the symbiotic relationship between the celebrities and those of us who cover them. It will be bittersweet going through the awards season without notes, soundtracks and phone calls from Ronni. She did her job superbly AND made friends. How rare is that? What a great legacy and what a tragic loss for all of us.

  7. I had a message at 5 p.m. last night from Ronni on my phone this morning. I only wish I could have been in the office to speak to her.We were prepping for a star ceremony in December for one of her clients. I worked with her on many ceremonies and she always was so professional,determined and kind. Mr. Hammond your story about Ronni is wonderful and right on. She was truly one of a kind. My condolences to her brother and her family at Chasen P.R.

  8. Thank you for the heartfelt tribute. For over 20 years, Ronni was a friend to the USA Film Festival, serving on our National Advisory Committee. She was unfailingly generous with her ideas, knowledge and clients, and contributed to and shaped our organization in more ways than she knew. The chance to visit with her and experience her unvarnished candor, high-octane energy and glorious sense of humor was always a privilege. We learned from her, we admired her and we loved her. And how sad to say how much we will miss her.

  9. Nicely written Pete. My heart goes out to you and Madelyn when I heard the news this morning, as well as Jeff Sanderson and her friends and family. What a tragic loss.

  10. Beautiful eulogy Pete, I’m sorry for your loss and my heart goes out to her friends and family. She was a legend and will be missed.

  11. Ronni was a fabulous publicist and more important a really decent human
    being in a world which is not always so decent. She leaves a gaping hole.

  12. having known ronni for almost thirty years and seen her on the press line at “burlesque” last night, there are no words to help us comprehend this tragedy…..however, you, pete came as close as one could to describe the one of a kind woman that she was….a very sad day for all who knew her…..

  13. Well said Pete. Ronni was one of a kind. A real passionate character who called ’em as she saw em. She will be missed and your words are a lovely farewell.

  14. Thank you, Pete.
    Thank you, Ronni.
    It’s wonderful to see all of these adulations. She surely deserves them.
    What a gal.
    You nailed her.

  15. Thank you Pete….my heart goes out to all her family and friends. She will certainly be
    missed by all of her fellow publicists. Such a wonderful person. So sad.

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