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Lew Wasserman (1913 -- 2002)

Lew Wasserman, who died aged 89 on 3 June 2002, was the last of the great Hollywood moguls.

All his life, he was steeped in the entertainment business. As a teenager in Cleveland, Ohio, he worked in a local cinema, then, after graduation, took a job at a local nightclub.

In 1936, aged 23, he joined the talent agency, Music Corporation of America (MCA), where he represented bands and actors such as Errol Flynn, James Stewart, Bette Davis and Ronald Reagan, for whom he negotiated Hollywood's first million-dollar contract.

For the next 50 years, the highly respected Wasserman ran MCA, acquiring Universal Pictures, Decca Records and other assets, whilst turning the company into an entertainment powerhouse.

He pioneered the TV mini-series and the one-hour cop show, including Columbo, for which an aspiring young film-maker named Steven Spielberg directed an episode.

For Universal, Spielberg went on to make Jaws (the phenomenon of summer 1975), ET: the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Jurassic Park and Schindler's List (both 1993).

Even when MCA was sold to Matsushita (in 1990) and Seagram (1995), when the whole company was renamed Universal Studios, Wasserman retained an office on the lot in what was renamed the Lew Wasserman Building. He is survived by his wife, Edith, whom he married in 1936, and daughter.