Hollywood publicist gunned down off Sunset Boulevard

She was beloved by all of Hollywood and had just taken her leave from the kind of evening she loved: schmoozing the stars and the media poolside on the roof of a swanky Beverly Hills hotel. Then, on the way home in her new Mercedes-Benz, veteran film publicist Ronni Chasen was shot dead.

It is a murder as shocking as it is inexplicable. No one, least of all police investigators, have so far been able to offer any concrete clues as to why anyone would want the single, 64-year-old fixture of the studio scene dead. It has dazed many of the top shakers in the industry, as well as the residents of Beverly Hills, one of the safest neighbourhoods of Los Angeles; one which didn't see a single killing last year.

The geography of the assassination was clear enough. Seemingly after leaving a party following the premiere of the film Burlesque starring Cher – who was present – Ms Chasen got in her car to drive to her home in the Westwood area. Residents on a tree-lined avenue along the route, just south of Sunset Boulevard, heard shots fired at about 12.28am on Tuesday and saw her car skidding into a lamppost, with Ms Chasen slumped at the wheel and struggling to breathe. She was rushed to a nearby hospital, but was pronounced dead as a result of gunshot wounds to the chest.

"We are heartbroken, shocked and completely devastated," said Amy Pascal, co-chair of Sony Pictures, the studio behind Burlesque. She said that at the premiere Chasen had been "full of her trademark energy and love of life".

As news of the murder spread, several studios closed for the day.

Police in Beverly Hills said last night that as part of a "thorough investigation" they had begun collecting footage from surveillance cameras along the route Ms Chasen took before she was shot. Private homes and businesses have cameras mounted along sections of Sunset Boulevard, although because it was at night the quality of footage is likely to vary significantly. It may give an indication, however, whether a car might have been in pursuit of the Mercedes.

With a career spanning four decades, Ms Chasen was best known for running campaigns in the run-up to the Academy Awards. She had an Oscar in her sights for the musical soundtrack of Burlesque. Other films she had promoted over the years include Driving Miss Daisy, On Golden Pond and last year's Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker.

Recently, Ms Chasen was taken on to help generate a supporting role Oscar for Michael Douglas in the remake of the film Wall Street.

Actor Morgan Freeman spoke of his "extreme pleasure" in working with Ms Chasen on Driving Miss Daisy.

"We've been friends ever since," he said, on hearing of her death. "She is someone I greatly admired and she will be remembered."

Police said they had no witnesses to the shooting itself. As they launched their investigation they removed computers and hard drives both from Ms Chasen's apartment and from the offices of her firm, Chasen and Co.

"To think of not being able to get her on the other line of the phone is unimaginable," said veteran producer Richard Zanuck. "She was the best publicist in the business."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?