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Hollywood honours shot publicist

Hundreds of Hollywood insiders packed a cemetery chapel to pay tribute to one of their own - a publicist shot dead as she drove home from a premiere for the film Burlesque.

Some 400 to 500 people filled the large chapel in Los Angeles's Hillside Memorial Park to honour the memory of Ronni Chasen. At least as many more gathered on a chilly, wind-swept patio outside.

From both vantage points they heard friends, family and long-time business associates warmly recall Chasen as someone who grew up loving films and film stars and carried that passion with her throughout her life.

When they were children, Chasen's brother, writer-director Larry Cohen, told mourners, they went to see movie cowboy Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans, do a show at New York's Madison Square Garden. Afterward Chasen got to shake hands with Evans.

"All the way home on the subway, every person she saw, she said, 'I touched the Queen of the West. I touched the Queen of the West'," he recalled to laughter. "That was her first celebrity encounter."

Although well-known in the Hollywood community, Chasen was a virtual unknown outside it, and Oscar-winning film producer Lili Fini Zanuck indicated that was the way she wanted it. "This week I went through boxes of pictures from events I knew Ronni attended, but I couldn't find any pictures that she was in," she told the crowd. "I realised that was because Ronni took great pains to stay in the shadows while pushing her clients into the light.

"She would be shocked at this outpouring for her," said Zanuck, who used an expletive to sum up what the 64-year-old Chasen's reaction to people at her funeral finally learning her real age would be.

Others at the memorial included Oscar-nominated songwriter Carol Connors, Oscar-winning film composer Hans Zimmer and film historian Leonard Maltin. Oscar-nominated songwriter Diane Warren was among the honorary pallbearers and producer Richard Zanuck was one of the pallbearers who carried Chasen's coffin, covered in white flowers.

She was to be buried in a private service attended only by family.

Chasen was driving home through a Beverly Hills neighbourhood with multimillion-dollar homes when she was shot several times in the chest. No-one has been arrested, and police have said little about their investigation other than it appears someone in a car next to Chasen's opened fire. Among the scenarios police are examining is that she was the victim of a hit.

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