Woman known as Restaurateur to the Stars dies at 106

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Madame Sylvia Wu, whose Chinese restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica served the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Mae West and Frank Sinatra, has died at age 106, according to multiple media reports.

Wu passed away September 29, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Born Oct. 24, 1915, Sylvia Cheng grew up in Jiujiang, southwest of Shanghai, and came to the United States on an ocean liner during World War II.

She was studying education at Columbia University when she met King Yan Wu, a recent MIT chemistry graduate who took an engineering job at Hughes Aircraft Co. She opened her restaurant, Madame Wu’s Garden, in 1959 at 2628 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica.

She was known for her long black hair, elegant gowns and kind demeanor.

“Everybody in this town knows Madame Wu,” the late television host Merv Griffin once told The Times. “One of the dearest, sweetest, most elegant women I’ve ever known.”

Wu closed the restaurant in 1998 but then opened Madame Wu’s Asian Bistro & Sushi when the Grove opened a few years later. It was not as successful as the original and is now closed.

In her later years, Wu wrote cookbooks, appeared regularly on television and was involved with various charities including the City of Hope cancer center.

Her husband of more than 60 years died in 2011. Wu is survived by sons George and Patrick and numerous grandchildren. Her daughter Loretta died of cancer at age 34.