Connie Wald, an elegant matriarch of old Hollywood known for the low-key dinner parties she held for friends like
Her death was confirmed by her son, Andrew.
The widow of Jerry Wald, who produced Oscar-winning films including "Mildred Pierce" and "
"She was so unpretentious," producer William Frye, a longtime friend, said Thursday, "but she still had a wonderful style about herself."
She had a knack for setting people at ease — Frye said Wald was the only one of his friends who charmed the reclusive
She established her style in the 1940s when Hollywood was "a sleepy little town" where stars worked six days a week and could go out only on Saturday nights, she told the
"When I think about going to dinner at Connie's … I feel a great sense that the world is about to be corrected," Didion told Vogue magazine in 2007. "There will be warmth; there will be the most comforting possible food and the most comforting possible company. I don't think I ever met anyone with a more developed gift for drawing people together and making them happy."
Wald was born Constance Emily Polan on Aug. 13, 1916, in Parkersburg, W.Va. At 18 she moved to New York to live with her publicist brother Barron and began modeling for designer Claire McCardell.
In the late 1930s Wald followed her parents and brother to Los Angeles. There she met Jerry Wald and married him in 1941.
They soon moved into the Pennsylvania Dutch-style farmhouse in Beverly Hills that became the venue for many fabled gatherings, such as the time composer-comedian
In fact, Crawford was there, and she had brought Gable.
"That's the way the town was," Wald said in the New York Times interview. "People knew each other. They all worked for the studios."
Her husband died in 1962. She is survived by their sons, Andrew and Robert, and two granddaughters.
Andrew Wald said her last wishes were "no service, no flowers" and a Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, which they cooked themselves and served in her home.