Mitchelson, Marvin M. 1928-2004
MITCHELSON, Marvin M. 1928-2004
OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born May 7, 1928, in Detroit, MI; died of complications from heart problems and skin cancer September 18, 2004, in Beverly Hills, CA. Attorney and author. Mitchelson was a prominent Hollywood divorce lawyer who was considered a pioneer in the area of palimony suits. The son of European immigrants to California, he completed his undergraduate work at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1953 and his law degree at Southwestern University in 1956. After passing the California Bar exam, he set up a private practice in Beverly Hills. Successfully winning an important capital murder case in 1958, he began working more and more on divorce and child-custody cases. In his first case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1963, Mitchelson successfully argued that indigents had a right to legal counsel and appeals, a landmark case that the attorney would later say was one of his proudest achievements. But this type of work was soon overshadowed by Hollywood fame. Representing James Mason's wife, talk-show host Pamela Mason, in her 1964 divorce, the attorney discovered a lucrative specialty. He would become famous for his Hollywood divorce cases thereafter, often representing celebrity wives, such as Joan Collins, Bianca Jagger, and Connie Stevens, but also defending husbands, including Tony Curtis, Mel Torme, and Sonny Bono. Fame, he later admitted, went to his head. He began living an extravagant lifestyle that would land him in legal trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, as well as charges of nonpayment for jewelry purchased at Sotheby's and two cases where women accused the married Mitchelson of rape. The rape charges were later dismissed, but the attorney ended up in prison for tax fraud in 1996, serving two years. After his release, a repentant and remorseful Mitchelson, who had declared bankruptcy, admitted to having a cocaine problem, had been disbarred, and was suffering from several health problems, was allowed to practice law again. He worked as a paralegal and consultant for a time, and in 2001 established a new practice in Hollywood. Mitchelson was the author of two books: Made in Heaven, Settled in Court (1976) and Living Together (1981).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Times (London, England), September 21, 2004, p. 30. Washington Post, September 21, 2004, p. B4.