Ed Limato, the colorful tenpercenter who repped mega stars ranging from Marlon Brando to Denzel Washington, died Saturday at his Beverly Hills home. He was 73 and had been in failing health for some time.
Limato was most recently a top talent rep for WME. He joined predecessor WMA in 2007 after a long stint at ICM.
Limato’s other clients over the years included Richard Gere, Steve Martin, Mel Gibson, Billy Crystal, Kevin Costner, Sylvester Stallone, Michelle Pfeiffer, Liam Neeson and Matthew McCounaghey. Limato was known for his skill in spotting promising young talent and grooming them for stardom, and for being a staunch advocate for talent he believed in. Through his long run in the biz, he helped train scores of young agents and assistants who went on to become prominent industry execs.
Limato was also renowned for hosting an annual Oscar party on the Friday before the Academy Awards that was one of the biz’s most sought-after invites. He famously presided over the event at his Coldwater Canyon estate in bare feet.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague Ed Limato,” WME said in a statement. “He was the consummate agent, launching the careers of some of the most celebrated artists of our time, always with his signature style and class. His passion for this business was contagious, inspiring so many who had the privilege of knowing him. A true legend, Ed has left an indelible mark on our industry. We will miss him dearly.”
Limato started in the biz in 1967 at the Ashley Famous Agency, which became one of ICM’s predecessor agencies. He stayed with ICM until 1978 when he moved to WMA. In 1986 he returned to ICM and rose to become operating head of the agency. His departure in 2007 was spurred by the agency’s merger with the Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann agency, which resulted in a new management regime taking much of the reins at ICM.
In a statement, ICM topper Jeffrey Berg said Limato had a “remarkable impact on the entertainment business. He dedicated his life to his clients and guided the careers of many important artists in our industry.”
Limato was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y. to a middle-class Italian family. His innate love of showbiz took him around the world, from working as a disc jockey in Panama City, Fla. and Alexandria, La, to assisting director Franco Zeffirelli on the set of “The Taming of the Shrew” in Rome. With the help of Zeffirelli’s agent, Limato returned to New York and took a job in the mailroom at the Ashley-Famous Agency. He was quickly promoted to junior agent. He moved to the West Coast in the mid-1975 as Ashley-Famous transformed into ICM through a series of mergers.
During his four decades as a talent rep, his client list read like a “Who’s Who” of modern Hollywood: Antonio Banderas, Claire Danes, Frank Langella, David Selby, Matthew Fox, Derek Luke, Michael Biehn, Tom Schanley, Sam Neill, Valeria Golino, Doris Roberts, Nate Parker. He also guided the careers of Ava Gardner, Marlon Brando, Meryl Streep, Wynona Ryder, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Goldie Hawn, Dennis Quaid, Madonna, Nicolas Cage, Robert Downey, Jr., Fred Forest, Adrian Lyne, Madeline Kahn, Jill Clayburgh, James Coco, Anthony La Paglia, Kiefer Sutherland, Billy Baldwin, Ray Liotta, Rutger Hauer, Michael York, Matthew Modine, Geena Davis, William Petersen, Ellen Barkin, Laura Dern, James Woods, Keith Carradine, Kathleen Turner, Angela Bassett, Sharon Stone, Paul Walker, Diana Ross, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Lopez, Dennis Quaid, Russell Crowe, Thomas Jane, Bette Midler and Harvey Keitel.
Limato is survived by his mother, Angelina, a brother and a sister and several nieces and nephews.
Funeral service will be private. A memorial service in Los Angeles is being planned. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to the Motion Picture and Television Fund.