Media and entertainment industry attorney Donald Engel died Wednesday in Redwood City, Calif. following a long battle with leukemia. He was 84 years old.
Engel’s famous clients include Olivia Newton John and Donna Summer, for whom he won major victories, as well as Sammy Hagar, the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Cher, Clint Black, the Dixie Chicks, Janis Ian, Joan Jett, Meatloaf, Rod Stewart, Van Halen, Leiber & Stoller, Doc McGhee, Farrah Fawcett, Jay Bernstein, Kasseem Dean, Don Cornelius, Robert Wagner, Stephanie Powers, Sydney Sheldon, the WC Fields Estate and Hopalong Cassidy.
After graduating from the City College of New York, Engel was drafted during the Korean War and served in the U.S. Army as an intelligence officer. Once he returned from war, he attended law school at NYU.
Engel and his wife, Judy, went into private practice and established Engel & Engel in 1972. As a publishing attorney, Engel represented Simon & Schuster, Grosset & Dunlap and Golden Books as well as prominent authors.
When Engel and his wife moved to Los Angeles in 1975, he became a popular lawyer among recording artists and other celebrities and was known as “the contract-buster.” Engel also represented entertainment corporations such as Harcourt Brace (Sea World), Interscope, Motown, MCA, Disney, Lorimar and Paramount.
Engel is survived by his wife, two sons Gregory Engel and Stephen Engel, two daughters Jacqueline Leibsohn and Laura Engel as well as seven grandchildren.
Funeral services for Engel will take place on Sunday, Jan. 19 at 11:30 a.m. at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Los Angeles.