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Hollywood Executive Dawn Steel Dies

December 21, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Dawn Steel, who became the first woman to head a major Hollywood studio and produced blockbusters such as ``Top Gun,″ ``Fatal Attraction″ and ``When Harry Met Sally ...″, has died. She was 51.

Ms. Steel suffered a brain tumor for almost two years and died Saturday night at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said Nancy Willen, a family spokeswoman.

Ms. Steel, a native of New York, moved to Los Angeles in 1978 and landed a job in the merchandising department for Paramount Pictures. Her campaign for ``Star Trek: The Motion Picture″ caught the eye of executives who promoted her to vice president of production.

By 1985, she headed Paramount’s production, overseeing movies such as ``Top Gun,″ ``The Accused,″ and ``Fatal Attraction.″

In 1987, she was named president of Columbia Pictures, becoming the first woman to head a major Hollywood studio. She was responsible for movies such as ``When Harry Met Sally ...″, ``Look Who’s Talking,″ ``Postcards from the Edge″ and ``Flatliners.″

Ms. Steel gained a reputation as a difficult boss and was called ``hell on heels″ in a story in California magazine. In a 1993 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Ms. Steel said she was demanding and a perfectionist but so were male colleagues.

She left Columbia in early 1990 when it was bought by Sony Corp.

Ms. Steel later formed her own production company, Atlas Entertainment, with her husband, Charles Roven. The last two films she produced were ``Fallen,″ starring Denzel Washington and set for release in January, and ``City of Angels,″ starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan and set for release in April.

Ms. Steel is survived by her husband and their 10-year-old daughter, Rebecca. A private funeral was planned.

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