Ronnie Clint, Longtime GM at Chasen's Restaurant, Dies at 89

Courtesy of Linda Moritz
Clint (left) with Chasen's regular Frank Sinatra in the early 1980s.

The Englishman worked at the legendary Hollywood gathering place from 1954 until it closed in 1995

Ronnie Clint, the distinguished Englishman who served as the general manager of the famed Hollywood haunt Chasen's for three decades until its demise in 1995, has died after a long struggle with Parkinson's disease. He was 89.

Clint died on Aug. 17 in his Santa Monica home, his son, Michael, told The Hollywood Reporter.

While working at the Bel-Air Country Club as an assistant GM in 1954, Clint met Chasen's owner, former vaudeville comedian Dave Chasen, who convinced him to come to work for the restaurant at Doheny Drive and Beverly Boulevard. He was promoted to GM of Chasen's in 1965 and stayed through its final day, April 1, 1995.

Chasen's, which began as a barbecue stand in 1936 on a former bean field, was the site of glittering Oscar and Emmy parties and was known for serving traditional fare like hobo steak and chicken pot pie in an old-school, glamorous setting. Regulars included Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck, Jack Benny, Alfred Hitchcock, Marilyn Monroe, Milton Berle, Don Rickles and Ronald Reagan, who favored Booth No. 2 and proposed to actress Nancy Davis at the restaurant. (Michael Clint said his father was especially close to the Reagans.)

Elizabeth Taylor enjoyed the Chasen's chili so much that she famously had it flown to Rome while she was filming 1963's Cleopatra, and legend has it that the nonalcoholic "Shirley Temple" cocktail was invented for the child star there. Jimmy Stewart held his bachelor party in the restaurant, and Donna Summer said in a 1997 documentary that her 1983 hit "She Works Hard for the Money" was inspired by the Chasen's ladies' room attendant.

Days before the restaurant shuttered, Clint lamented the state of the restaurant business.

"Look at the way some of these people dress when they go out to dinner," he told The New York Times. "And the food. Don't get me started on that. I like places with a good bar and good food. These new places — you order food and you get a bunch of flowers on your plate. I like to see food on my plate. I don't want flowers."

Clint was not one to gossip about the famous patrons at Chasen's. "He was good about keeping people's privacy," his son said.

He worked at Hillcrest Country Club for about a year before retiring.

Stanley "Ronnie" Clint was born Dec. 9, 1924, in Southampton, England. One of seven children, he left home at an early age to find work on cruise ships, where he learned the food and beverage industry. He met his future wife, Anita, on one of those voyages; they were married in 1952 in upstate New York and moved to L.A. the following year. She died in 2008.

In addition to his son, survivors include his daughter, Linda; grandchildren Christopher, Michael and Natalie; brother Bobbie; and sister Ruby.

A celebration of his life is being planned. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the National Parkinson's Foundation.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4