Esme Chandlee, former MGM publicist, dies at 94

Represented stars during golden age of studio

Esme (Warde) Chandlee, a publicist at MGM who represented Judy Garland, Ava Gardner, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and Grace Kelly, among others, during the studio’s golden age before ultimately opening her own public relations firm, died Nov. 24. She was 94.

Chandlee joined MGM in 1942 and also represented Leslie Caron, Debbie Reynolds, June Allyson, Ricardo Montalban, Janet Leigh, Glenn Ford, Jane Powell, Cyd Charisse, Angela Lansbury, James Stewart, Gene Kelly, Mickey Rooney and Red Skelton.

She left the studio in 1958 and joined PR firm Cleary, Strauss and Irwin, then moved over to NBC, where she was associate producer of the pioneering celebrity-interview show “Here’s Hollywood.”

Chandlee hung her own shingle in 1961. Her first clients at Esme Chandlee Public Relations were John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands. She also repped Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck early in their careers.

Chandlee’s husband Ellis Hurst Chandlee died in 1989.

Survivors include her great-nephew Matt Nix, a TV producer; his sister Esme; his mother and father Susan and Philip Nix; and Esme’s niece Lee Turner, who works at Disney.

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