Edie Wasserman Dies at 95

Wife of legendary Hollywood agent Lew Wasserman, was a noted philanthropist

Last Updated: August 18, 2011 @ 6:40 PM

Edie Wasserman, a Hollywood philanthropist and the wife of legendary mogul Lew Wasserman, has died of natural causes, family spokeswoman Melissa Zukerman told TheWrap. 

She was 95. 

Her husband was known as "The Pope of Hollywood," but for many years she was certainly seen as the town's first lady.

Her passing, coupled with the 2002 death of her husband, marks the end of an era, a time when the center of the movie world was driven by outsized personalities, not corporate behemoths. 

Though Lew Wasserman commanded a higher profile in the industry, his wife played a key role in his rise from agent to the chief of MCA/Universal.

She was known to be her husband's eyes and ears in the town, helping him build and maintain relationships with actors and industry executives. An invitation to a cocktail party at the Wassermans' Beverly Hills home was seen as sign that a star or aspiring power player had arrived. 

In addition to her status as a Hollywood tastemaker and social doyenne, Wasserman was a noted philanthropist. She was intimately involved in fund-raising for the Motion Picture and Television Fund, which celebrated her birthday every year at the organization's Woodland Hills facility. The fund was a cause dear to her heart, and Wasserman served on the board for many years.

Edie Wasserman's time at the center of Hollywood society spanned decades, starting in the 1950s, when her husband was an agent to the town's top talent, through the 1990s, when he found his influence at Universal increasingly diminished following Seagram's purchase of the studio. 

But she was born far from the movie industry's home in Cleveland. She married Lew Wasserman in 1936, and they remained together for over six decades.

For the couple's 50th anniversary in 1986, a portion of Universal's backlot was made up to look as Cleveland would have appeared in 1936. More than 700 guests attended. 

Her interest in education led her to create  a Wasserman Scholars program at six major universities nationwide. She also served on the board of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and supported the Los Angeles Music Center. 

She was also a lifelong Democrat, a friend to President Bill Clinton and President Jimmy Carter, and an active party donor. 

Survivors include  daughter Lynne Wasserman, grandson Casey Wasserman and his wife, Laura Wasserman, granddaughter Carol Leif and her husband, Jeff Parker.

She is also survived by three great-grandchildren, Emmet and Stella Wasserman and Jake Parker.

In a statement, Motion Picture Association of America CEO and Chairman Chris Dodd said he was "deeply saddened" by Wasserman's passing, adding, "Edie will be especially remembered as a great philanthropist and patron of the arts and education whose generosity was legendary, especially when it came to the Motion Picture &Television Fund's home for retired industry workers.  Her commitment and dedication to these causes knew no bounds and serves as a model to us all."