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Home / Life! / Entertainment / Bert Fields, lawyer to celebrities, dies at 93

Bert Fields, lawyer to celebrities, dies at 93

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Funeral services were pending Monday for Bert Fields, the hard-nosed entertainment attorney who handled clients including Madonna, Tom Cruise, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson, as well as Hollywood studios and movie executives.

Fields died Sunday at his home in Malibu at age 93, a spokesperson for his law firm, Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger, announced.

Cruise, a longtime client and friend of Fields, said in a statement that the attorney “was a gentleman; an extraordinary human being. 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.”

During his six-decade career, Fields tried many landmark cases in the entertainment and communications industries.

He represented George Lucas in contract negotiations with The Walt Disney Company regarding Disney theme parks; Paramount Pictures in its appeal of the Buchwald v. Paramount case over “Coming to America”; and represented Jeffrey Katzenberg in a landmark action against Disney. He also obtained a multimillion-dollar judgment for George Harrison against the late musician’s former business manager. Representing DreamWorks SKG and Steven Spielberg, he defeated an application for an injunction against screenings of “Amistad.”

Katzenberg once said that “watching Bert was like watching a skilled surgeon.”

In recent years, Fields represented Jamie McCourt against her husband, Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, in their 2009 divorce proceedings; negotiated Cruise’s 2012 divorce settlement with Katie Holmes; and represented Shelly Sterling against her husband, Donald Sterling, in asking the court to confirm her ability to sell the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014.

He and his wife maintained homes in the Hollywood Hills, Malibu, New York, Mexico and France, and he was chauffeured to work each day in a Bentley, according to various stories on the litigator.

He was also caught up in the scandal around Anthony Pellicano, the “private detective to the stars” who was sentenced in Los Angeles to federal prison for wiretapping, racketeering and weapons possession. Testimony showed that Fields had hired Pellicano many times during a 20-year period.

Fields was born in Los Angeles. 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.

Fields is survived by his wife, Barbara Guggenheim, a nationally known art consultant; his son, James Elder; his grandson, Michael Lane; and his granddaughter, Annabelle.

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