- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2002

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) Lew Wasserman one of the last old-time movie moguls, who helped build an entertainment empire while keeping company with presidents and the most glittering of Hollywood stars died yesterday. He was 89.
Mr. Wasserman died at home from complications of a stroke, said Sue Fleishman, a spokeswoman for Universal Pictures.
As chairman and chief executive, Mr. Wasserman was the undisputed ruler of MCA Inc., the parent of Universal Studios. He owned 6.9 percent of the company's stock and, through a variety of trusts, controlled more than 15 percent.
When MCA was sold in 1990 to Japanese electronics giant Matsushita for $6.6 billion, Mr. Wasserman's take was valued at $350 million, and he was retained as a manager. When Seagram Co. took over the company five years later, Mr. Wasserman retired from management with the honorary title of chairman emeritus. But he remained on the company's board of directors until 1998.
During his more than a half-century with MCA, he and its late founder, Jules Stein, built it into an entertainment giant involved in movies, television programming, home video, records, consumer products and broadcast station ownership, as well as running its successful back-lot tour of Universal Studios.
Former first lady Nancy Reagan said Mr. Wasserman had been a close adviser to her husband, former President Ronald Reagan, for more than 60 years.
"Lew was Ronnie's first agent in Hollywood, and they became fast friends," she said yesterday. "He gave Ronnie some of the best advice in the business. It seems no matter where we've been Sacramento; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles Lew Wasserman was always there for us."
Mr. Wasserman, whose thick black-frame glasses dominated his tall, thin frame, marked his 50-year anniversary with MCA in December 1986 in a celebration at its Universal City studios.


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