Ed Limato dies at 73; longtime Hollywood agent

Ed Limato, a longtime


agent known for shepherding A-list talent and throwing lively pre-Oscar parties at his Coldwater Canyon home, died Saturday. He was 73.

Limato died of lung disease at his home in Beverly Hills, said Christian Muirhead, a representative of the

William Morris

Endeavor Entertainment agency.

Limato, whose client list at various times was top-heavy with such stars as

Kevin Costner


Billy Crystal


Richard Gere


Mel Gibson


Steve Martin


Michelle Pfeiffer


Sharon Stone


Denzel Washington

, spent most of his 44-year career at the William Morris Agency and International Creative Management.

Atypically, Limato nurtured genuine friendships with many of the stars he represented.

"Many agents tend to look at talent as a commodity today, to help their own careers," Limato said in a 2005 Variety profile. "I still think of talent as something to be served. If you believe in a client, you stick with them through the ups and downs."

Born July 10, 1936, in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., Edward Frank Limato worked as a disc jockey in




and as an assistant to director

Franco Zeffirelli

in Rome before getting his first job at a talent agency.

He started sorting mail for the Ashley Famous Agency in

New York

in 1966. It became the International Famous Agency and, later, International Creative Management, and he became an agent. He moved to the West Coast and, in 1978, jumped to the William Morris Agency.

Limato spent 10 years with William Morris, then returned to ICM and rose to president of the agency. After a dispute with company management in 2007, he sued to break his contract and went back to William Morris. Last year, the agency merged with Endeavor.

For many years, Limato's party the Friday night before the

Academy Awards

was a must-attend event for high-profile stars and film industry figures. As host, he cut a striking figure in his impeccable attire, silver hair and famously bare feet.

His home, built in 1936 and previously owned by

Dick Powell


Joan Blondell

, then by

George Raft

, reflected his interest in historic preservation. He served on the board of the

Los Angeles

Conservancy, as well as American Cinematheque and the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

Survivors include his 99-year-old mother, Angelina; a brother, Paul; and a sister, Angela.

The funeral will be private, but a public memorial service is planned.