Long-Time ICM agent Ed Limato–who forged the careers of Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Denzel Washington and Michelle Pfeiffer–stood out among Hollywood’s agent elite as a class act. He was old-school, yes, and he cared deeply about his clients. Agenting wasn’t so much a business to him, although he was competitive: I remember him hanging late at a Twentieth Century Fox premiere party, hoping to catch a word with the recently agentless Kevin Costner. Limato looked after Robert Downey, Jr., for years, and Winona Ryder, too. He loved his exotic fish, and his white patent leather shoes. He was tickled pink when Vanity Fair did a photo shoot. Here’s my obit.
Wednesday night Paramount hosted a memorial for the super-agent, attended by Hollywood’s ruling class and his star clients, from Gere and Pfeiffer to Washington and Gibson, who was dropped by WME after Limato died. Elton John performed “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” as a finale. “Ed Limato epitomized old Hollywood and he loved it and tonight’s event was a perfect way to go out,” reported ex-William Morris agent @CassianElwes on Twitter. “Very Hollywood and in front of his peers.. [he] would have been very pleased by it all and the fact all his great clients were in the same room. Only Steve Martin was absent.”
According to Elwes’ tweets, Limato’s clients and assistants told many dishy stories, such as the agent calling ex-ICM agent Sue Mengers “Miss Piggy.” Gibson said that Limato never wanted him to have another agent, and would be happy that he probably “never will.” Gibson joked that Limato tried to teach him phone etiquette. When he first came to Hollywood, seven agents ignored him, but Limato offered him a cup of coffee and was kind, so he signed.
Limato and Washington went way back: Limato’s father had built the house Washington grew up in. The actor recently found a photo of himself and Halle Berry from the night they won Oscars, sent to him by Limato. Washington was moved as he talked about how much Limato had believed in his talent.
Pfeiffer recalled that the agent signed her when she was 22; she used to like to sit in his office and listen to him because she felt safe there. Gere, 61, is having a hard time adjusting to talking to new agents: “It’s like trying to start a new marriage.” Limato was his family, Gere said. He would invariably call every night in the middle of his dinner.