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Howard Weitzman, Powerful Hollywood Lawyer, Dies at 81

Weitzman’s clients included Michael Jackson, OJ Simpson, Ron Meyer, and Arnold Schwarzenegger among many others

Howard Weitzman, the high-powered Hollywood lawyer with an A-list clientele that included O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson, died Wednesday following a battle with cancer, a representative of his firm, Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert, told TheWrap. He was 81.

Weitzman, a founding partner Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump, represented some of the biggest names in entertainment. He was the Michael Jackson estate’s attorney during its battle with the IRS, and successfully defended automaker John DeLorean during his infamous drug trafficking trial in the 1980s.

He rose to public notoriety in the early 1990s when he initially represented O.J. Simpson after Simpson’s arrest for murder, before stepping down citing an inability to lessen his other work; he was portrayed by actor Ken Lerner in the acclaimed miniseries “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

Weitzman also served high-powered Hollywood executives, among them Ron Meyer, whom Weitzman represented in negotiations for Meyer’s exit from Universal, which are still ongoing.

His firm paid tribute in a statement: “A renowned trial lawyer and dealmaker, Howard skillfully handled some of the most famous cases in Hollywood. Howard’s wit, charm and brilliant legal mind are legendary, and we will miss him dearly. … RIP Howard, you will always be a giant.”

Born in Los Angeles in 1939, Weitzman was a USC graduate who passed the California bar in 1966 and later taught at the school for 12 years. After becoming a managing partner at the firm Weitzman Wyman Bautzer in 1986, he co-founded Katten Muchin Zavis & Weitzman in 1991. Weitzman left to become executive vice president for corporate operations at Universal Studios from 1995 to 1998 before returning to private practice. Weitzman would go on to co-found Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert in 2006.

Weitzman was also an adviser to film productions and an occasional actor. He appeared on screen in the 2001 film “Corky Romano” and 2005’s “Thank You for Smoking,” and served as a legal adviser for the 2014-16 TV series “Murder in the First,” among other credits.

Weitzman had been married twice — first to Stacey Weitzman from 1969-1976, and to Margaret Weitzman until his death. He had two sons, Jed Weitzman and actor Armen Weitzman.