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Elaine Young, 71; Real Estate Agent to Hollywood's Rich and Famous

April 21, 2006|From the Associated Press

Elaine Young, the real estate agent to the stars who brokered the deals for so many celebrity properties that she became a celebrity herself, died Thursday. She was 71.

Young died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after a months-long battle with cancer, according to her daughter, Jennifer Young, and her brother, Tony Garber.

Glamorous and ebullient, she lived a life that rivaled those of her star clients, who included Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Warren Beatty, Burt Reynolds, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Stevie Wonder.

She was married six times, once to film star Gig Young, who was the father of her daughter. She appeared on television, was profiled in major publications and drove a Rolls-Royce convertible.

Fame and Hollywood's glitzy lifestyle had its dark side, however, one that may have contributed to Young's demise.

In the 1970s, she did what many Hollywood stars were doing: sought to improve her appearance through cosmetic surgery. It was the beginning of a horror story that would haunt her the rest of her life.

As she told it many times in interviews warning others about the pitfalls of such operations, she was maimed by a doctor who injected loose silicone into her face to accentuate her cheekbones. After a time, the silicone began to migrate, causing eye problems and disfigurement.

She underwent 46 surgeries to try to remove the material and correct the problem. The doctor, meanwhile, committed suicide, and Young never received any compensation for the medical disaster.

In the end, the disease that claimed her life began with a cancerous tumor in the part of her face that had endured so many surgeries.

Young's soft voice and gentle manner belied her flossy image, and famous clients were drawn to her. Indeed, she was one of them, born and raised in the realm of Hollywood fantasy.

Her father, David S. Garber, was a manager at Universal Studios, and she grew up with the movie business. She graduated from North Hollywood High School and attended UCLA.

When she began selling wildly expensive Southern California palaces, she acknowledged that even bringing herself to tell clients the price was daunting.

She listed her first million-dollar home in the 1970s and recalled showing it to a potential buyer who pointed out that it had only one bathroom.

"I got up all my courage and I said, 'Well, what do you expect for a million dollars?' " Young recalled.

That story and many others became the basis for her book, "A Million Dollars Down," an often humorous memoir of her adventures with the rich and famous.

She is survived by her daughter and brother.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

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