American Legal Legend, Bert Fields, Passes At Age 93

August 8, 2022Press Release

Bert Fields, whose client list was a “who’s who” of A-list Hollywood talent, has died peacefully at his Malibu home with his beloved wife Barbara Guggenheim by his side. From Tom Cruise and Mel Brooks to Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty, Fields vigorously pursued the interests of his celebrity clients. Most of his entire career was spent at Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger, a firm that he helped to turn into a Hollywood behemoth. Along with the industry-shaping deals that he helped negotiate, this American legal legend tried numerous landmark cases in the entertainment, sports, and communications industries, and he has been the subject of several personal profiles in magazines and newspapers.

With an unrivalled roster of actors, writers, directors, producers, and studios, Fields was the man to see in Hollywood. He represented George Lucas in contract negotiations with The Walt Disney Company regarding Disney theme parks. He also represented Paramount Pictures in its appeal of the Buchwald v. Paramount case over Coming to America. He represented Jeffrey Katzenberg in a landmark action against Disney, and he also obtained a multimillion-dollar judgment for George Harrison against his former business manager. Representing DreamWorks SKG and Steven Spielberg, he defeated an application for an injunction against exhibition of AMISTAD. Over the years, Fields’ clients also included prominent musicians such as The Beatles, Michael Jackson, George Harrison, and Van Morrison.

Other clients included MGM, United Artists, Sony Music, James Cameron, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Richard Bach, Mike Nichols, Joel Silver, and John Travolta.

Fields was a prolific writer. When Godfather author and client Mario Puzo died, he was working on The Family, which Fields finished for Puzo, who notably admired Fields’ writing style in his legal briefs. Puzo left notes for Fields on the The Borgias so that Fields could complete The Family, which was edited by Puzo’s girlfriend Carol Gino.

Harper Collins published Fields’ two acclaimed books: Royal Blood: Richard III, Mystery of the Princes (a biographical work on Richard III) and Players: The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare (a fresh examination of the age-old topic). Marmont Lane Books published Fields’ Destiny: A Novel Of Napoleon & Josephine; Shylock: His Own Story, and Gloriana: Exploring The Reign Of Elizabeth I. Recently, Fields also published Summing Up: A Professional Memoir, recounting his long, storied career as an attorney.

Fields’ longtime client and friend Tom Cruise said: “Bert Fields 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.” 

“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 Shakespearian expert and, of course, a fantastic lawyer…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.

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

“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,” said legendary actor, comedian, and filmmaker Mel Brooks.

“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,” said producer and studio exec David Geffen.

“I have lost my dearest friend, colleague, and mentor,” 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: advocate, author, historian, actor, raconteur, recording artist, and a music enthusiast who knew every Cole Porter lyric. I will miss my pal Bert more than words can express,” O’Donnell added.

“Bert Fields, my lawyer, dear friend and trusted confidante for over forty years, 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. 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,” said producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

“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,” Baradaran added.

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 and has endowed a law professorship. 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 and author; his son, James Elder Fields; his grandson, Michael Lane Fields; and his granddaughter, Annabelle Fields.


Seth J. Horowitz
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