Doris Bergman, a longtime Hollywood publicist known for including foster children at her Emmy and Oscar gifting lounges, died Wednesday in a fire in her home in West Los Angeles. She was 68.
Bergman and her husband, Albert Sassoe Jr., 65, along with their cat, were found by firefighters responding to the blaze at the one-story home in the Mar Vista neighborhood at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, NBC-Los Angeles reported. The home was engulfed when emergency crews arrived, the report said. It took about 20 minutes to extinguish the fire, after which they found the victims.
The house did not have smoke alarms, multiple reports said, citing the L.A. Fire Department.
An industry vet who began her career in PR and charity work through the 1970s and ’80s, Bergman founded her consulting agency, Bergman PR, in 2004, representing a variety of of comedians, chefs, authors, designers and others.
She was known for hosting style and gift suites at awards shows like the Emmys and Oscars, featuring stars like Jane Lynch, Brigitte Nielsen, Marilu Henner and Judd Nelson among her guests, the Mirror reported. One of her gift lounges was a feature for 15 years at the George Lopez Celebrity Golf Classic.
She worked with a number of charitable organizations, but was most known for her association with Wednesday’s Child, a nonprofit that works to connect children in the foster system with foster and adoptive parents. She included children from the organization in many of her events in recent years with the goal of connecting them with the Hollywood community.
Her husband, Albert Sassoe, was a well known attorney with an eponymous firm in L.A. who handled business and employment law and insurance cases.
Fashion designer Sue Wong posted on Facebook that she was “devastated” to learn of her friend’s death. The two had become close during Covid, she wrote. “We had a good mental and intellectual bond. I will greatly miss her on so many levels – – her great sardonic wit, her intelligence, her generosity of spirit and her wicked sense of black, dark humor.”
“It’s just so sad and it’s so tragic and, so unexpected,” publicist Anthony Turk said in an interview with Fox 11 Los Angeles. “Doris is one of the most delightful, interesting people you’ll ever meet, from her fire engine red hair to her gruff voice and her heart of gold, Doris produced beautiful events where she brought in the Hollywood community and she connected the Hollywood community with charity organizations. Doris could be intimidating to people at times for people who didn’t know her because she could really get in your face and be a little rough and gruff. But the minute you realized who she was, you realized what a heart of gold this woman had. There was nobody else like her.”
“Their loss is going to be such a loss for so many people,” Turk said of the couple. He recalled that she started out producing ballroom-sized events linking national charities and major celebrities like Sidney Poitier. In more recent years, she shifted to more focused events where she could connect those in Hollywood community with charity organizations, in particular Wednesday’s Child.
“Just knowing that she had a little part of that was such a point of pride for her,” Turk said.