The Murder of Hollywood Publicist Ronni Chasen
On the evening of November 15, 2010 - the premiere of the film Burlesque was held at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. The after-party was held on the roof of the new W Hotel, just off Hollywood and Vine. It was attended by Ryan Seacrest, the Kardashians... all the greats. 5 years from now, no one will remember the film, but most people will recall what happened later that night.
Ronni Sue Chasen was a powerful publicist. One of her first gigs was for her brother, producer/writer/director Larry Cohen (Ronni's real name) and his film Hell Up in Harlem
She went on to work for films like Wall Street, On Golden Pond and Driving Miss Daisy. Give me Hell Up in Harlem anytime.
Some say she drank from the furry cup. Does it matter? No, not really. But it's interesting. Diane Warren dedicated her Golden Globes to Ronni - her close friend. Rumor is that Diane and Dusty Springfield enjoyed an occasional box lunch together.
Ronni left the party at the W around midnight. She drove her black 2-door Mercedes Westbound on Sunset Boulevard through Beverly Hills - no doubt passing a trillion CCTV cameras on the way. Ronni lived in a condo on Wilshire Blvd., Unit 802, don't you know. 2 bedrooms, worth a little more than a mil. Sounds pretty cheap to me. Thanks Mark.
According to most sources, Ronni got to the corner of Sunset and Whittier, and was in the left turn lane. If you were going to believe what is being told to us... a nut job on a bicycle shot her 5 times from the passenger side window.
A neighbor recalls, �I was up late when I
heard the shots, it sounded like a hammer.
Ronni punched it, made her left, blew a stop
sign and crashed into a concrete street lamp, causing it to collapse.
The airbags were deployed, and several people called 911.
This is the very route she took, shot by (HR!) Brian Donnelly of Dearly Departed Tours, which now includes this location on the tour.
Now I can say with confidence, ANYONE on a bike in Beverly Hills is going to raise an eyebrow. ANYONE riding a bike in Beverly Hills at midnight is going to raise a red flag. A black guy riding a bike in Beverly Hills at midnight - I'm surprised SWAT wasn't called. I'm more surprised that no one saw him. In fact, I don't believe it for a minute.
Ronni was taken to Cedars Sinai Medical Center where she was pronounced dead at 1:12am of multiple gunshot wounds. She was 64 years old.
TMZ supplies her heavily edited Death Certificate
Her funeral was held at Hillside Cemetery, and attended by Peter Fonda, Michael Douglas and songwriter/finger artist Diane Warren. Ronni is in a crypt that's spitting distance to Gene Barry.
Cut to 6pm on Wednesday December 1, Police arrive at the luxurious Harvey Hotel on Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. They were there to question a "person of interest" in the murder, Harold Martin Smith.
Harold Smith was a career criminal and crazier than a bag of hangers. That is a medical term. Apparently he was blathering to anyone that would listen, that he killed Chasen and was expecting payment of $10,000 for the hit. He also conveeeeeeeniently said that he would never go to prison again. He would kill himself first.
Someone at the building called the Police. I wonder if
it was Eddie Murphy. The place is a known tranny patch, and I've heard he
is a regular. Police followed Smith past this lovely
door which just gives me the snuggles, and entered the
Now, if we are to believe what is told to us, Smith saw the
cops and pulled a gun. Police ordered him to drop the weapon. He
The police said that he was only one of several "persons
of interest" in the case, not a suspect, and they were only going to
question him. They said he killed himself because he thought he was going
to prison for several burglaries in the area. There was also a statement
from a "source close to
the investigation" that the bullets from his gun didn't match the
bullets used in the Chasen murder. Then another statement:
Ronni's will was made public. She was worth just over 6 Million. This is fun: "I have intentionally and with full knowledge of the consequences omitted to provide for my niece, Jill Cohen, also known as Jill Gatsby, except for the gift of $10." TMZ were all over that sh*t. They found Jill, who wrote a song for Ronni. As you do. Jill looks trashed.
On January 20, 2011, The Beverly Hill Police Department have announced that the case is solved.
I know up until recently (mid January 2011) Harold Smith's body is still downtown at the morgue. His family were contacted about claiming the body. They were like, "Yeahhh... no. That's okay." He will be cremated and buried in a community grave with several hundred others.
I doubt we will ever know the true story here. In my opinion, it doesn't add up. But what do I know.
I think the expression "person of interest" is going to be one of those terms that people never used, and are now going to throw around all the time like "looky-loo" and "tsunami."
I've heard that the Harvey Hotel was where the Los Angeles Harvey Girls were put up. I don't know if it's true, but I prefer to believe it.
Do you know... if it weren't for the film Burlesque, Ronni probably wouldn't have been driving down Sunset that night.
I hold Christina Aguilera and Cher personally responsible for the murder of Ronni Chasen.