Howard Weitzman, a Hollywood lawyer whose clients were celebrities Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber and OJ Simpson, died Sunday of cancer. He was 81 years old.
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Weitzman died at his home in the Pacific Palisades, California, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Weitzman was best known for defending Jackson and his estate. His client list also included almost every studio and major talent agency, as well as Hugh Grant, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Britney Spears and Sean “Diddy” Combs, the paper reported.
“Howard’s wit, charm and brilliant legal wit are legendary and we will greatly miss him,” says a statement from the Santa Monica law firm he founded in 2006, Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump LLP. “RIP Howard, you’ll always be a giant.”
Weitzman represented carmaker John DeLorean in the 1980s and was originally Simpson’s defense attorney after the former college and NFL Hall of Famer were arrested in 1994 in connection with the deaths of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, according to The Hollywood Reporter. .
Weitzman initially told the media that Simpson was on a flight to Chicago at the time of the killings and then withdrew from the case, citing a heavy workload, the website reported.
Weitzman defended Jackson and his property from creditors’ claims and allegations of pedophilia, the Times reported. After Jackson died in 2009, Weitzman was leading a lawsuit against Lloyd’s of London in a lawsuit against an insurance policy covering the pop star’s planned concert tour “This Is It,” the paper said.
“It was a real slide ride,” Weitzman told The Hollywood Reporter in 2010. “Not a week goes by when something unusual doesn’t happen. There are consistent claims by people who claim to be Michael’s wife or child. “
The case was resolved in 2014 for an undisclosed amount.
“We broke our hearts over the deaths of our friend and colleague Howard Weitzman,” John McClain, John Branca and Jackson’s Estate said in a statement. “Howard has always been a relentless fighter for just causes and fought fiercely for Michael throughout his life and beyond.”
Weitzman represented Bieber in his case against Mariah Yeater, who accused the singer of having a child in 2011, the Times reported. The lawsuit was eventually dropped.
According to the Times, Weitzman has been a leading attorney in more than 300 civil and criminal jury trials and has represented more than 1,000 individuals and companies in matters such as intellectual property, family entertainment law and property.
Weitzman was born in Los Angeles on September 21, 1939. His first job was working in his parents’ grocery store, the Times reported. He graduated from Gould Law School at the University of Southern California in 1965, the newspaper reported.
Weitzman taught advocacy at USC Law School for 12 years, according to the Times. He has also taught at Harvard University, Georgetown University Law Center and UCLA.