Longtime publicist Ronni Chasen was found shot multiple times early Tuesday in Beverly Hills and later died in the hospital, sending a shockwave through the entertainment community that knew her for decades -- many of whom saw her at a lavish Hollywood afterparty not minutes before her violent death.
Chasen was shot five times in the chest, then crashed her late-model Mercedes-Benz E350 into a lightpole around 12:28 a.m. near Sunset and Whittier, authorities told TheWrap. It wasn't immediately clear whether the car was moving when she was shot, and no one else was in it when police arrived.
The investigation was in preliminary stages, and no suspects or motive had been identified.
Vivian Mayer, Chasen's best friend, told TheWrap that she had parked at the new W Hotel in Hollywood, where she was attending an afterparty for the world premiere of "Burlesque" at the Grauman's Chinese Theater a few blocks away. No one saw Chasen leave, or with whom, Mayer said.
Chasen (pictured left with fellow publicist Jeff Sanderson, actress Frieda Pinto and actor Dev Patel) lived in Westwood, and was likely on her way home when she was shot near the busy intersection about five miles from the party.
Chasen was single, had no children, and had been once married and divorced, in her 20s. She wasn't known to be dating anyone at the time of her death, her friends told TheWrap. She was the sister of Larry Cohen, a successful genre screenwriter and director whose credits include "Phone Booth."
The news came as a lightning shock to the entertainment community. Chasen has been a well-known figure in publicity for four decades.
"All of us in personal publicity are devastated by this tragic loss," fellow publicist Kelly Bush said in a statement. "Ronni was a terrific publicist, blazing a trail for women in this business, like few others. I greatly admired and respected her. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and staff."
(Photo at right from myFOXla.com.)
"Ronni was smart and quirky and talented and the world will be a lesser place without her," publicist Howard Bragman told TheWrap.
She has been a constant figure on the Academy Awards circuit, pushing hard for her clients including "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," composer Hans Zimmer and producer Joe Roth's "Alice in Wonderland.