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Legendary Hollywood Agent Ed Limato Dies at 73

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 3, 2010 at 10:47AM

Hollywood talent agent Ed Limato died Saturday at home in Beverly Hills. He was 73. He had been in and out of Cedar Sinai in recent months.
Thompson on Hollywood

Hollywood talent agent Ed Limato died Saturday at home in Beverly Hills. He was 73. He had been in and out of Cedar Sinai in recent months.

For a dozen years Limato was the star of the talent department at ICM, where his elegant office boasted two gorgeous framed French one-sheets for From Here to Eternity and The Lady From Shanghai and a giant tropical aquarium whose fish he knew by name, fussed over by three good-looking assistants he called "the boys." Over the years he repped Denzel Washington, Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Nic Cage, Richard Gere (for 40 years, signed before he did Grease on stage), Steve Martin and Mel Gibson.

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Invites to Limato's annual Friday night tented Oscar party were hot tickets; he never allowed press to attend, and was one agent who was not interested in seeing his name in the trades, although he was not without vanity: he did participate in a 1990 Vanity Fair spread. Who else could carry off a white suit, white patent leather loafers and plastic cigarette with such panache?

Limato left ICM, where he had been vice chairman and co-president, in 2007 after the 2006 merger with Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann left him unhappy. After he won a contentious arbitration, he took his list with him to William Morris, and went along with the WME merger. He did not suffer fools. He understood the business as well as anyone. And he stood by such clients as Gibson, Robert Downey, Jr., and Winona Ryder through thick and thin. He educated his younger actors; he showed Ryder and Paul Walker A Place in the Sun.

Limato was old-school. He was courtly, well-mannered, charming. He was blind-sided when Michelle Pfeiffer left him for CAA, but took her departure gently, telling her that he understood and that if she changed her mind, he would welcome her back with open arms, no questions asked. He cared. He fussed. He threw tantrums. He apologized. He was not a Sammy Glick. In fact, he was himself--not one of those faceless foot soldiers that have come to populate the streets of Wilshire Boulevard.

Here's a statement from WME:

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague Ed Limato. He was the consummate agent, launching the careers of some of the most celebrated artists of our time, always with his signature style and class. His passion for this business was contagious, inspiring so many who had the privilege of knowing him. A true legend, Ed has left an indelible mark on our industry. We will miss him dearly."

His long-term protege, WME story editor Christopher Lockhart, pens a loving memoir in VF. Here's THR and The Wrap.

This article is related to: Hollywood, Obit, Agencies

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.