Nanci Ryder, Beloved Publicist to the Stars, Dead at 67

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Nanci Ryder
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Nanci Ryder, longtime publicist to stars like Renée Zellweger and Courteney Cox, died on Thursday. She was 67.

Ryder died of ALS complications. She had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2014. Amid her diagnosis, the Hollywood staple became an advocate for ALS and raised awareness and funds for the disease.

"Nanci Ryder, the venerable entertainment industry publicist has died due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease," reads a statement in part. "Though the disease took her voice, hundreds of her friends, colleagues, and clients joined her in the fight against the ravaging illness."

Known as one of the industries' most influential publicists, Ryder began her career when she moved to Los Angeles in 1979 and worked as a talent agent with the David Shapira Agency. She then worked at Goldberg-Ehrlich Public Relations and Management, before landing a position at Michael Levine Public Relations.

In 1984, she founded Nanci Ryder Public Relations. A couple years after she merged with Paul Baker and Larry Winokur and established Baker/Winokur/Ryder Public Relations. During her 30-year career, she represented stars like Demi Moore, Michael J. Fox, Robert Downey Jr., Helen Hunt, Paul Rodriguez, Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon, Viggo Mortensen, Jennifer Lopez, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Garner and many more.

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Sometimes in life, if you are lucky, you meet someone who takes you under their wing and cares for you like a daughter. Nanci Ryder was that other mother to me. I met her when I was 19, and we traveled the world together promoting movies...France, Germany, UK, Australia, Brazil, Russia...so many amazing places! But I loved our talks the most. Everyday after my kids went to school, she would call me to chat about shopping, purses, vintage jewelry, and about the Bachelor.🤣One day, Nanci called and told me she was having trouble talking...it was ALS. Nanci lived with and fought ALS for 6 years. (My heart goes to everyone out there dealing with this devastating disease🙏🏻) Yesterday, my Nanci left this world. I’m so sad because I miss her so much, but now I know she is Heaven chatting with all her friends about purses, jewelry and she is looking down on me... smiling. ALWAYS. I LOVE YOU, Nanci. ❤️💫🙏🏻

A post shared by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon) on

In November 2018, countless celebs reunited to participate in Ryder's "Team Nanci" 16th annual LA County Walk to Defeat ALS at Exposition Park Los Angeles, California.

Nanci Ryder
Presley Ann/Getty Images

Ryder is survived by her step-brother, Dr. Stanley Schwartz, and was preceded in death by her mother Lee Schwartz and step-father Dr. Samuel Schwartz. She also leaves behind her beloved dogs, Oreo and Manolo, and cats Fluffy, Pants and Thelma. 

Due to the coronavirus, funeral services will be held privately, and a celebration of her life will be held at a later date.

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