Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen described as 'happy-go-lucky' in moments before fatal shooting
In the moments before Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen was fatally shot early Tuesday in her Mercedes-Benz in Beverly Hills, she was acting "happy-go-lucky and gossipy and fun," said one colleague who saw her just before she left the "Burlesque" after-party.
The scene at the after-party was similar to that of many glittering Hollywood movie premieres. The event, which got under way at about 10:30 p.m. Monday on the roof deck of the W Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard just east of Vine Street, featured a burlesque theme, with dancers performing on banquettes as guests ate and drank around the venue's pool.
Cher, Christina Aguilera, Ricki Lake and Jane Fonda were among those celebrities mingling in the VIP area. Cher and Aguilera star in the new musical film, which premiered earlier that evening at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
Chasen was walking the party with her client Diane Warren, who wrote the song "You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me" for the film's soundtrack.
Just past midnight, she and Warren walked up to a fellow publicist, Jim Dobson, who talked to her for a few minutes, just before Chasen apparently left the event.
"She was happy-go-lucky and gossipy and fun, just like she always was," Dobson said. "We talked about food and life, just normal things. There wasn't any sign of stress."
But minutes after she left, Chasen was shot multiple times in the chest. She crashed her Mercedes-Benz E350 into a light pole near Sunset Boulevard and Whittier Drive about 12:30 a.m. Paramedics rushed her to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead about an hour later.
-- Steve Zeitchik and Matt Donnelly