Anna Shay, an heiress and Los Angeles socialite who became a breakout star of the Netflix reality show “Bling Empire,” has died. She was 62.
Her family confirmed her death to The Associated Press in a statement, which said the cause was a stroke. It was not immediately clear when or where she died.
“It saddens our hearts to announce that Anna Shay, a loving mother, grandmother, charismatic star, and our brightest ray of sunshine, has passed away,” said the statement provided to the AP. “Anna taught us many life lessons on how not to take life too seriously and to enjoy the finer things. Her impact on our lives will be forever missed but never forgotten.”
“Bling Empire,” which ran for three seasons on Netflix starting in 2021, centered on wealthy Asian and Asian American fun seekers in Los Angeles and was billed as the real version of the movie “Crazy Rich Asians.” Ms. Shay appeared in 22 episodes, according to the Internet Movie Database.
Jeff Jenkins, who produced the show and other reality hits like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” praised Ms. Shay’s performance in an interview with Town & Country magazine in 2021.
“I consider it a personal gift that she agreed to participate,” he said. “But it’s also a gift to everybody watching.”
Ms. Shay’s presence on the show was that of a sometimes intimidating but well-loved matriarch. “Anna is nice to people,” Guy Tang, another cast member, said in one episode, “but you cross her line, she’s going to cut you.”
Born in Japan, Ms. Shay was the daughter of Ai Oizumi Shay, who died in 2015, and Edward Albert Shay, who died in 1995. Her parents moved the family to Los Angeles from Tokyo in 1968, according to several news reports.
Her father founded the defense contractor Pacific Architects and Engineers, which she and her brother Allen Shay sold to Lockheed Martin in 2006 for an estimated $700 million.
Ms. Shay said on the show that she had been married and divorced four times.
“I always meet people and then we become friends and that’s it,” Ms. Shay said, adding that all four spouses brought adventure to her life. (She met one of them when she was learning to fly helicopters, she said.) Getting ready for a blind date on “Bling Empire,” she said she was open to marrying a fifth time. Ms. Shay never publicly shared her spouses’ identities.
She is survived by a son, Kenny Kemp. Complete information on her survivors was not immediately available.
After the news of Ms. Shay’s death, her co-stars and other friends expressed their grief and posted tributes on social media.
“We spent most of the pandemic together, slaying it on Rodeo Dr., grocery shopping, making Japanese plum wine and doing silly things,” Kane Lim, a fellow cast member who said he forged an off-camera friendship with Ms. Shay, wrote on Instagram.
“You had a nonchalance about you that was mesmerizing,” he wrote. “I was lucky to get to know the real you.”
She was known on “Bling Empire” for her personal style, a love for cooking and cutting zingers. In her first scene, she is seen sledgehammering a wall in her closet while wearing a red ball gown and a sparkling diamond necklace. When a friend asked what she was doing, she dryly answered, “I’m fixing my closet.”
Ms. Shay was always surrounded by a security detail, including at her vast estate in Beverly Hills, something she said she had been used to from an early age as a member of a wealthy family.
“My father, he was extremely protective as I was growing up,” Ms. Shay said on the show.
Even though she spent much of her final years in front of cameras, she remained somewhat of a mystery. “Anna Shay can reach you, but you can’t reach Anna Shay,” Kelly Mi Li, another “Bling Empire” star, said on a podcast last year.
“She was something special,” Pep Williams, an art photographer in Los Angeles, wrote on Facebook. “We used to race Ferraris and Lamborghinis from Beverly Hills to Palm Springs. So many good times just hanging out at the house talking about life, cars, and photography.”
This spring, Netflix canceled “Bling Empire” as well as its spinoff, “Bling Empire: New York.”
Mostly, Ms. Shay exuded a sense of confidence among the gossip and drama that the reality show inspires. “I don’t feel this need to compete,” she said in one episode. “I find it fiercely annoying.”