Monday, December 13, 2010

Did Ronni Chasen's Fiery Temper Anger the Cyclist Who Shot and Killed Her?

by Dr. Lillian Glass

The day after Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen was killed, her friends and colleagues sang her praises. They said she was the sweetest woman, who was loved by all. But as we read between the lines, their comments reveal a different story.

Their comments may give us more insight into her personality and perhaps why  Harold Smith, the person of interest, wanted her dead.  Smith ended up  committing suicide after police confronted him. Initially, police said he had  nothing to do with her murder. But now it has been discovered that he was indeed the murderer.

The Beverly Hills Police now say that Harold Smith killed her, while riding his bike, as Ronni was on Sunset Boulevard, turning left onto Whittier Drive. Apparently, Smith bragged to people that he killed Ronni and that is why they sought him out as a person of interest.

While police have said it looked to be a botched robbery, was she actually a victim of road rage? Did she cut cyclist Smith off or honk at him or yell at him? Was he so enraged by this that he pulled a gun and simply shot her?  He didn’t just shoot her once; he shot her five times. This meant he was furious with her and wanted her dead.

Ronni’s brother, Larry Cohen, even thought it was road rage. When he found out this happened, he remarked that his sister had a fiery temper and speculated that she may have angered the wrong person on the road while driving. He would certainly know his sister’s personality best.

Adjectives commonly used to describe Ronni by family and friends and colleagues were:  persistent, doggedly determined, fiercely protective, pushy, and very aggressive.

One colleague remarked that Ronni was known for her "fast-talking, old school, New York aggressiveness on behalf of her clients and was not a person one quickly forgot after meeting.”

Songwriter Diane Warren painted a picture of a publicist who was determined to get whatever she wanted no matter what. She described a situation when Ronni wanted a photo taken of Diane with some other celebrities in the photograph. Diane reported, “(Chasen) goes, ‘I don’t care what I have to do--I’m getting that picture,’ That was Ronni. She had something she wanted to do and she got that picture. She’d tell you what to do, and people listened to her.”

At Ronni’s funeral service, her relentless, turbocharged drive was mentioned by many. Those giving the eulogy each described Chasen’s forceful personality. Ronni’s close friend Vivian Mayer-Siskind’s comment about Ronni spoke volumes about Ronni when she stated, “Ronni came to me last night and was pissed as hell. ‘Now you get me a free Armani suit.’”

Perhaps the most compelling insight into Chasen’s personality came from producer Irwin Winkler of Rocky fame. He told the Los Angeles Times that when his 2004 film De-Lovely was not nominated for a Golden Globe, Chasen “was furious. She screamed and yelled at (members of) the Hollywood Foreign Press,
the group that puts on the annual awards show.

While Ronni may have been nice to her friends, colleagues, studio executives, and A-list celebrity clients who paid her large amounts of money, how did she treat others? When someone yells and screams at others, like producer Irwin Winkler reported Ronni did because her client didn’t get nominated for an award, it makes you wonder.

Did that aggressive, yelling, and relentless behavior transfer over on to the road? Did she scream and yell at the wrong person on the road who ended up shooting her? Obviously, there was someone in the last moments of her life who was angry. Harold Smith was so angry that he shot her five times in the chest.


Kathryn Casey said...

Hey Lillian: Ronni Chasen may have had a quick temper, but this sounds a lot like blaming the victim, don't you think? I mean, she certainly didn't do anything that caused this to happen. For all we know, this guy was in a foul mood, looking for someone to kill. After all, who rides around on a bike with a loaded gun?

Pat Brown said...

Kathryn, I don't think looking at behaviors that lead to explanations is blaming the victim. If someone wondered why I was robbed in my car at 4 AM last night while dressed in a nightgown covered by my winter coat, someone might surmise it was due to my Diet Pepsi habit (I ran out in the middle of the night and was still up working). This could explain why it was a random act and not a premeditated one would have known I was going to up and leave my house at that time because even I didn't know I was going to do it.

Ronni Chasen's murder is a bit confusing (mostly because the story has changed a bunch of times and we still are not sure of what is true and what isn't). ALL the details of this crime matter, including Ronni's patterns and behaviors. Was her route home from the venue known? Was the time she would leave known? Did Harold often ride around in BH? Did he have problems following through with his crimes? Was he a screw-up when he committed crimes? Was he plan well? Did he pick up evidence? Did Ronni leave her purse in sight in the car? Was she the type who would roll down her window to respond to lost people or panhandlers? Was she wary or not? Did she flip the bird at people or smile at them? Did Harold brag about doing the hit before or after the theory was suggested in the media? Is anyone who benefits from Ronni's death saying stuff that raises an eyebrow? Did anyone who benefit from her death hang in place where Harold might also hang? And so on. Each piece of information is important in reconstructing what actually happened.

Kathryn Casey said...

Hey Pat,
It's always germane to examine a victim's behavior, but I worry about laying the weight of this on Chasen. It sounds to me like she may have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. After all, Harold not Ronni was the one riding around Beverly Hills with a gun. He obviously had it for a reason, like robbing someone?

Could Chasen have mouthed off making him angry? Sure, but this sounds more like a botched robbery or the like than a road rage incident. Just my opinion.

By the way, I'd suggest getting dressed before you succumb to your next Pepsi attack. The bad weather up there, you could end up in a snowbank. Not much fun walking home in your PJs. LOL

Cathy Scott said...

Better yet, Pat, just break the Diet Coke habit. You might as well be shooting yourself with a gun. ;-) Terrible, terrible stuff on so many levels.

Pat Brown said...

I guess, Kathryn, I don't look at behavior of the victim as a fault issue: I look at it as a piece of evidence as to what might lead us to the motive or the perpetrator. Harold was a psychopathic predator regardless of the reason he shot Chasen (assuming he did) and Chasen was clearly a victim of a crime. Even if it were road rage, I don't think anyone is saying a flipped bird deserves or expects a five bullet return; if that were true, we would have bodies all over the highways and a lot of justifiable homicide verdicts!

Pat Brown said...

Diet Pepsi, Cathy, not Diet Coke! Very important evidentiary point....I wouldn't drive anywhere for a Diet Coke.

Cathy Scott said...

You ARE addicted! ;-)

Anonymous said...

It goes to show regardless who you are...being angry and overly aggressive is not a good thing. Both victim and perp both needed time off!

Pat Brown said...

Anonymous, at this point, we really still don't know the motive. It could be a robbery, road rage, a hit, or just something amusing for Harold to do. For that matter, it could be a bizarre form of suicide by cop; kill a rich citizen, cops come after you, have to kill yourself. In reality, Ronni could have simply been minding her own business when she got shot to death.

FleaStiff said...

It may indeed have been one short fuse meeting another short fuse. Whatever provocation there was, one person's response was verbal the other person's response was more effective.

It is possible to be both hot-headed and a good shot, but I am still doubtful that it was rage.
His mouthing off to a homeowner in Manhattan Beach is what earned him a lengthy prison term. He was not particularly good in his chosen profession. I just wonder about time and place and alternative scenarios.