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Marrissa O’Leary, a former vp with MGM Worldwide Television Group and New World Television, died Tuesday after a long battle with endometrial cancer. She was 61.
O’Leary died in Palm Desert, California, her friend, screenwriter-producer Heather Hale, told The Hollywood Reporter.
From 1989 to 1993, O’Leary served as vp business affairs and administration with the MGM division when it produced the ABC series The Young Riders and Wes Craven’s Nightmare Cafe at NBC.
She then moved to New World and was a vp in charge of talent and program negotiations and a comedy development executive under Brandon Tartikoff.
Earlier, she served as a manager of business affairs at The Landsburg Co., where she worked on such shows as That’s Incredible! and CBS’ Kate & Allie.
In 1996, O’Leary launched her own talent management and production company, Wackiland Productions, which had a first-look deal at Paramount. Her company’s tagline was her personal mantra: “Better Living Through Giggles.”
As a performer, O’Leary sang with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, had a one-woman cabaret act that played throughout L.A., was heard in a voiceover scream during Jaws 3-D (1983) and stood in for Miss Piggy at the Golden Globes.
O’Leary, who graduated from Occidental College and received her master’s in business administration from Pepperdine University, also worked as a director of education for the Los Angeles Children’s Museum.
The logo for O’Leary’s company was a playful teddy bear, but “adversaries quickly learned not to piss off the bear,” Hale noted. “Her sense of humor was sharp to the end, and she found it incredibly ironic that after a lifetime of being a pit bull negotiator, she literally died from a pain in the ass.”
Survivors include her sister, Priscilla.
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