Rudin epitomized ‘Hollywood Law’

GOOD MORNING: There were “Perry Mason” and “L.A. Law” and now “The Practice” — but if there’d ever be a series called “Hollywood Law,” it would be about Mickey Rudin. Rudin died at 7:45 a.m. Monday. Unfortunately, he didn’t write his memoirs; when I had last asked him if he’d ever write the book, he said “Not a chance.” That was on his 75th birthday party in 1995 and he never changed his mind. So, it’s left to his longtime friends (and I was proud to be one) and associates to remind of who he was and what he did for the creators in this creative community. Just to educate those who ask, here are some of those whom attorney Rudin represented: Beta Taurus, Warner Records, Sol Kerner, the Jackson Five, Henry Plitt, Lucille Ball and Desilu Studios, Cesars Palace and Steve Wynn. Also, Alan Hirschfield and Columbia pictures during the period of “Indecent Exposure” by David McClintock. He was Frances Lear’s attorney in her divorce vs. Norman Lear — and afterwards, Rudin represented Norman Lear. Marilyn Monroe was his client on the West Coast; his brother-in-law was her psychiatrist in L.A. Elizabeth Taylor was also repped by lawyer Rudin, as were Joan Rivers (in her battle with Fox TV), Liza Minnelli and Frank Sinatra — more on him later … Rudin was a partner in the heavyweight Hollywood law firm of Gang, Tyre, Rudin & Brown, which once represented Daily Variety and was also involved in the Hollywood 10 case in the 1950s … He argued in front of the Supreme Court in cases involving copyright ownership.

“HE WAS A VISIONARY,” said Jeff Berkowitz, his friend and fellow attorney. “He was one of the first lawyers to counsel talent clients of ownership of their properties — the masters of their recordings, syndication of their shows. He was responsible for Sinatra’s Reprise Records ownership as well as that of ‘The Manchurian Candidate,’ among other properties.” He was tough — no question about it — but he also had a sense of humor. For years, when in N.Y. to negotiate Lucy’s new pact with William Paley, Rudin would ignore the Paley edict of “no food” in his offices. Rudin would don a colorful sports shirt and arrive in Paley’s office with a boxful of donuts. Finally, one year, Paley asked, “Why do you bring these donuts into my office?” Rudin laughed, “If, one year, the guard down below says I can’t bring them in — I’ll know I can’t get what I came for!” … With Rudin, the client came first — he lived and breathed everything for his clients, and not only for Sinatra for whom he was most noted. I can attest to that fact. Rudin was quick to call me when there was something uncomplimentary about his client (Frank, especially) in the column. But he laughed when I told him I’d received a note (purportedly from Frank) threatening to break my legs over an item. Sinatra laughed about it, too — but only years later. Rudin’s allegiance to Sinatra was illustrated time after time. F’rinstance, in Madrid, a Sinatra concert was not sold out, because the promoter had priced the ducats too high. Rudin didn’t want Frank to play to a meager crowd in the enormous soccer stadium. So he cornered 20,000 unsold tickets and, deep into the night, Rudin was found in his hotel room, in his bathrobe, on the floor, punching holes in the tickets so they couldn’t be resold — and he then gave them away to military and poor so Frank would play to a packed house. He represented Frank in his battle to obtain the gambling license in Lake Tahoe and in his fight with the government. But Rudin wouldn’t allow Frank to play a South Africa gig until Mickey flew there, along with his wife Mary Carol and friends, Joe Sinay and wife Ruth, to personally ascertain the audience would not be segregated. Sinatra got a million dollars for the weekend stand — with a comedy moment in which Rudin required an elephant to extricate his Land Rover from a ditch while on safari. It was good for laughs for years afterwards! Rudin obtained a multi-million-$ Anheuser-Busch franchise for Sinatra. (Rudin also had a piece, natch). Mickey was one of the mourners at Sinatra’s funeral. Although they had long since ended their professional agreements, they remained friends with deep respect for one another. But Rudin also turned down more of the elite than he represented and their names would astonish you. Similarly, no client was too small for him to represent if he felt the legitimacy.

I ALERTED (IN THE COLUMN) “His Way” author Kitty Kelly that Frank Sinatra (via Rudin) was going to sue her. She said, “And that was before I even started to write the book” … When Chasens’ closed April 1, 1995, it was Mickey Rudin and wife (of 25 years) Mary Carol who gave the final party in the main banquet room. Who more appropriate than Rudin, whose clients had helped make the eatery the celeb-haven it had been for decades? On hand at that farewell were Rudin’s friends including: Mayor Richard Riordan, Councilman John Ferraro, the Steve Allens, Chuck Frieses, Ted Manns, Art Linkletters, Quincy Jones and Nastassia Kinski, Herb Hutners, Joe Sinays, Arthur Hillers, Monty Halls, John Gavins, John McMahons, Martin Ransohoffs, Edward Schericks, Tina Sinatra, Guy McElwaine, Joe Smiths, Lee Solters, Rod Steiger, Jerry Weintraubs, Jennifer Jones. “We want this to be a big sendoff,” said Mary Carol Rudin, and so she brought in a troupe playing giant Taiko drums. We should have some giant drums to give Mickey Rudin a sendoff — but that’s not what he would have wanted. A private memorial service will be held instead at Westwood Village Memorial Park, Monday at 11 a.m. within earshot of many he stood up for. Case closed.

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