Marvin Mitchelson was thrust into celebrity status as a result of representing Michelle Marvin (also known as Triola), who was the live-in girlfriend of actor Lee Marvin. Marvin had a lengthy movie career, taking home an Oscar for his role opposite Jane Fonda in Cat Ballou and starring in The Dirty Dozen. Ms. Triola and Lee Marvin lived together for six years. When he asked her to leave his home because he wished to marry another woman, she sued him in 1971 for alimony and property division. Mitchelson coined the word “palimony” and referred to it as “marriage with no rings attached.”

Ms. Triola was awarded $104,000.00 at trial, nowhere near the millions she sought. In the Court of Appeal she lost her trial award and never received a penny from Lee Marvin. She later lived with Dick Van Dyke until her death in 2009.

But Marvin Mitchelson’s career was launched.
He became the “go-to” celebrity divorce attorney acting for Bianca Jagger, Mrs. William Shatner, Sylvester Stallone, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Joan Collins and Carl Sagan, among many others.

His success led to a life fueled by champagne and cocaine. In 1988 he was censured by the California Bar Association on account of numerous client complaints which included overcharging on his fees. In 1990 two women accused him of rape, but he was never prosecuted. The end of his high-flying career, however, was in 1993 when he was convicted of tax fraud and improper trust accounting in his law practice. He was sentenced to thirty months in prison and disbarred after his conviction.

In 2000 he was able to regain his license to practice law and was retained in 2003 by Wall-of-Sound producer Phil Spector for the murder of Lana Clarkson, a “B” actress Spector met at the Hard Rock Cafe in Los Angeles. Mitchelson died in 2004 before Mr. Spector’s trial began. Spector was convicted of Clarkson’s murder.

Another illustrious career, including a ground breaking United States Supreme Court ruling, where the court held that indigent litigants should be appointed counsel to represent them, but an ignominious ending.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang


2 thoughts on “DISBARRED The Series Part 2 MARVIN MITCHELSON

  1. I have known and worked for Mr. Mitchelson. I was 19 years of age when I first started working for him. Mr. Mitchelson was my mentor. He was the most brilliant, sophisticated, educated, legally creative divorce attorney who has ever lived. He loved opera and wanted to be a orchestra conductor, he was kind, funny, serious, hard nosed, stubborn, articulate, intelligent, ingenious, sensitive, caring, a complete definition of the work-a-holic (as I am today in my career), and he loved his son Morgan and his wife Marcella. Yet he was alone in life and career. There will never be another one like him. God has truly broken the mold when he created him. He loved his mother deeply and sincerely, and his sisters. His sweet mother lived down the street from me in West Hollywood and I used to bring her strawberries and string beans when I would go to the Malibu Courthouse with Mr. Mitchelson with many legal cases we handled there. He was very kind to me.

    1. Ms. Green

      Thank you for your email. You were very lucky indeed to work with such superior counsel. In my series of blogs entitled Disbarred, the common theme is of world-class counsel who soar beyond most, and then crash and burn. His story is a lesson to all of us who feel motivated to over perform to satisfy our sense of “not being good enough”. I followed Mr. Mitchelson’s career and was a big fan. Thank you for your interesting contribution and keep reading. Best regards, Georgialee

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