Fields, Bertram 1929-
FIELDS, Bertram 1929-
PERSONAL: Born March 31, 1929, in CA; father a surgeon; married Lydia Ellen Minevitch, October 22, 1960 (died September, 1986); married Barbara Guggenheim (an art consultant), February 21, 1991; children: (first marriage) James. Education: University of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1949; Harvard University, J.D. (magna cum laude), 1952.
CAREER: Admitted to the Bar of the State of California, 1953; attorney in private practice in Los Angeles, CA, 1955; member of law firms, including Shearer, Fields, Rohner & Shearer, 1957–82; Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman, Machtinger & Kinsella, Los Angeles, CA, partner, 1982–. Member, Council of Foreign Relations. Military service: Served in U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps.
MEMBER: American Bar Association, Los Angeles County Bar Association.
(Under pseudonym D. Kincaid) The Sunset Bomber (novel), Linden Press (New York, NY), 1986.
(Under pseudonym D. Kincaid) The Lawyer's Tale (novel; sequel to The Sunset Bomber), Turtle Bay Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes (nonfiction), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.
Players: The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare (nonfiction), Regan Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Member of editorial board, Harvard Law Review, 1953–55.
SIDELIGHTS: Bertram Fields is one of the most prominent attorneys in the field of entertainment law. In addition to representing high-profile clients in numerous landmark cases, he has also written two novels featuring a lawyer protagonist and two nonfiction works exploring English history. Fields grew up in California and attended law school at Harvard University. During the Korean War, he served in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps, trying hundreds of court-martial cases in an extremely competitive environment. Upon returning to civilian life, he worked briefly for another lawyer, and after moving into his own practice had lost only one minor case by 2005. He has represented leading movie studios as well as individual celebrities, including the Beatles, Dustin Hoffman, Steven Spielberg, and John Travolta.
Fields's novels, written under the pseudonym D. Kincaid, feature a lawyer with many similarities to the author. Harry Cain is a top Hollywood attorney whose cases are full of show-business glitter. He made his debut in The Sunset Bomber and was again featured in its sequel, The Lawyer's Tale. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found The Lawyer's Tale somewhat flawed by too much "careless prose and celebrity name-dropping," but praised the "legal brinkmanship and cunning courtroom strategy" that propel the story. The critic concluded that the author has created "a tale that entertains."
English history had long been an interest of Fields's, and in 1998 he published a nonfiction book that was the result of four years' research into the subject of King Richard III and his two nephews, who are thought to have been murdered in the Tower of London. Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes begins with the author's instinct that the monarch was innocent of this crime, though it has long been suggested that he was the perpetrator. Fields investigated the facts in the same way he would have for a legal client. His book is structured much like a lawyer's brief, carefully outlining the evidence and then drawing the most logical conclusions from those facts. He also offers critiques of earlier writers' opinions on the subject. Booklist reviewer Brad Hooper found the legalistic approach makes for "dry" reading, but credited the author with contributing "a new approach to the literature of the period."
Fields's next nonfiction work addresses the question of the authorship of Shakespeare's plays. It has long been debated whether or not William Shakespeare actually wrote all the dramas and poetry attributed to him. Fields begins his book Players: The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare with a brief history of England up to and during the reign of Elizabeth I. Shakespeare's early life is recounted, and the author uses a technique similar to that in Royal Blood to examine the question of Shakespeare's identity. Some experts have proposed that the true genius behind the works signed with the name of Shakespeare may have been that of Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, the Earl of Rutland, or even Queen Elizabeth herself. The man named William Shakespeare seems to have had little education and a barely legible signature, so Fields finds it reasonable to doubt the authenticity of his name on the brilliant plays attributed to him. In the end he concludes that a more talented author may have recruited Shakespeare to collaborate on these plays in order to make them more appealing to the masses. A Kirkus Reviews writer found the theory presented in Players to be "dazzling," but noted that it "fails to consider how, with so many conspirators in the mix, the truth could have been kept from leaking." Nevertheless, the reviewer stated, the book is "a compelling work for the lay reader."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 1, 1998, Brad Hooper, review of Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes, p. 467.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2005, review of Players: The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare, p. 163.
Library Journal, April 1, 2005, Shana C. Fair, review of Players, p. 94.
Los Angeles Business Journal, February 19, 2001, "Profiles of the 50 Best-compensated Lawyers in L.A.," p. 32.
Publishers Weekly, July 27, 1992, review of The Lawyer's Tale, p. 50; February 21, 2005, review of Players, p. 171.
San Francisco Chronicle, April 3, 2005, "Powerful Hollywood Lawyer Bertram Fields Judiciously Tackles the Bard's Authorship."
Harvard Law School Web site, http://www.law.harvard.edu/ (January 24, 2006), Julia Collins, "Bertram Fields."