Bert Fields Remembered as ‘Extraordinary Human Being’ by Clients Tom Cruise, Mel Brooks, Dustin Hoffman and More

“Watching Bert was like watching a skilled surgeon,” Jeffrey Katzenberg says of the entertainment lawyer

Bert Fields
Courtesy of Greenberg Glusker

Entertainment lawyer Bert Fields always looked out for the interests of his powerful, A-list clients, and those stars are looking out for him in the wake of news of his death on Sunday, with Tom Cruise, Mel Brooks, Dustin Hoffman and other clients and friends championing his legacy.

“Bert Fields was a gentleman; an extraordinary human being,” Cruise said of Fields. “He had a powerful intellect, a keen wit, and charm that made one enjoy every minute of his company. I loved him dearly and always will. It was a privilege to be his friend,” Cruise said in a statement.  

“Watching Bert was like watching a skilled surgeon,” added Jeffrey Katzenberg, whom Fields represented in a landmark action against Disney.

“Bert was a positive and wonderful guy. I always loved sharing his company. He was blessed with a wonderful sense of humor. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him,” Brooks said.

“Bert Fields came into my life as a lawyer 45 years ago, and it quickly developed into what became a lifelong friendship. There was no such thing as idle time in Bert’s world — an author of multiple books, a ballroom dancer, a singer, a chef, a Shakespearean expert and, of course, a fantastic lawyer,” longtime friend Dustin Hoffman said. “He was a brilliant renaissance man, and yet, he still had time to be an incredible, kind friend. He was my daughter’s godfather and the officiant at her wedding. He was fiercely loyal to his core. He was a true gentleman and I have never known, nor will I know, anyone like him. I will miss him more than words can express,” said longtime friend Dustin Hoffman. 

“Bert’s passing is a huge loss to his family and to the legal profession,” attorney Patricia L. Glaser said in a statement to TheWrap. “We were opposing counsel on many occasions and he was both a class act and a fierce competitor—all done with immense integrity.”

“Bert Fields was one of the most illustrious entertainment litigators for decades because he was brilliant, strategic and fearless,” attorney Ivy Kagan Bierman, told TheWrap in a statement. “There are only a few entertainment litigators that parallel Bert.”

Fields, who died Sunday at his home in Malibu following complications with COVID-19, litigated a number of landmark entertainment cases, including those involving George Lucas, the Buchwald v. Paramount case involving “Coming to America,” and George Harrison against his former business manager.

Bert Fields with Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty/Courtesy of Greenberg Glusker

But for as much as Fields was adored by those in Hollywood, he was both feared and respected by journalists in the media.

“RIP Bert Fields. With him dies the secrets of generations of Hollywood stars and executives,” Puck’s Matthew Belloni said in a tweet.

“Always incredibly generous with his time and wisdom, and few worked harder,” journalist Eriq Gardner added.

Not just an attorney but also a prolific writer of books about Shakespeare and other historians, Fields was close with “The Godfather” author Mario Puzo and even helped to finish one of Puzo’s books “The Family” after the author’s death. A rep for Fields’ law firm Greenberg Glusker shared a photo that included a hand-written note from Puzo, which you can see below.

Other producers, clients and colleagues also paid their respects to Fields on Monday, including “Top Gun: Maverick” producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who said Fields was “one of the most extraordinary men I have ever met.”

“Bert was that rare person who could achieve just about anything. He was a brilliant litigator, a scholar, lecturer, historian, and author. He was extremely witty and charming with all the elegance of a true gentleman,” Bruckheimer said. “But he also had the determination and grit of a street fighter. Bert Fields was a heavyweight. He accomplished it all with dignity and gusto and his indomitable zest for life and adventure. I had the honor and privilege of knowing this remarkable man and, for that, I will be forever grateful. Hollywood has lost one of its legends and I have lost a dear friend.”

“Bert Fields was one of my most influential colleagues and friends; he was honest, loyal, and fiercely fought for his clients’ interests. You do not reach the levels he did, have the successes he had, and earn the respect that he did without all of these qualities. I had the benefit of his sage advice for over thirty-five years he was a colleague and dear friend. The world has lost one of its greats,” producer and studio exec David Geffen said.

“For forty years, we were graced with Bert’s brilliance, decency, and charm,” said Bob Baradaran, managing partner of Greenberg Glusker. “Bert was a beloved colleague, friend, and mentor who trained a generation of outstanding lawyers. We were blessed to know and work with such a truly remarkable lawyer and human being.”

“I have lost my dearest friend, colleague, and mentor Bert Fields,” said Greenberg Glusker partner Pierce O’Donnell. “An American original, Bert was simply the greatest lawyer of his era in the same league as Clarence Darrow and Louis Nizer. Ever a gentleman, Bert lived life his way on his terms. Indefatigable, Bert was truly a Renaissance man: author, actor, raconteur, and a music enthusiast who knew every Cole Porter lyric. I will miss Bert more than words can express.”

Bertram Fields was born on March 31, 1929, in Los Angeles, California. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. After serving as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, he began the general practice of law. He taught at Stanford Law School and lectured annually at Harvard.

Bert Fields with his wife Barbara Guggenheim/Courtesy of Greenberg Glusker

See some other reactions to Fields’ passing below: