Entertainment attorney Donald Engel of Atherton dies at 84 | January 29, 2014 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - January 29, 2014

Entertainment attorney Donald Engel of Atherton dies at 84

Donald S. Engel, 84, a resident of Atherton since 2005 and a well-known entertainment industry attorney, died Jan. 15 at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City after a long battle with leukemia.

Mr. Engel specialized in representing musical performers who were unhappy with their recording contracts. He won major victories for Olivia Newton John, Donna Summer, Teena Marie and Boston.

His clients also included Sammy Hagar, the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Don Henley, Kenny Rodgers, Stevie Nicks, Cher and the Dixie Chicks.

Born in the Bronx, he graduated from the City College of New York. He served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

Following his service, he attended NYU Law School, where he was first in his class. After graduation, he worked at the U.S. Department of Justice in its Antitrust Division. He then taught law at Rutgers and NYU and, during that time, was named special counsel to New Jersey Governor Richard Hughes, and coordinated his anti-poverty program.

After his teaching career, he went into private practice and, in 1972, with his wife Judy, established Engel & Engel in New York City.

He soon became a leading book publishing and media attorney, representing Simon & Schuster, Grosset & Dunlap, Golden Books and many prominent authors.

In 1975, he and Judy relocated to Los Angeles. He became the "go to" lawyer for recording artists and other celebrities. As the Los Angeles Times reported, he was "known as the contract-buster" and was a "highly regarded" attorney who has "done work for half of the industry's superstars."

He also represented major corporations in the entertainment industry.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Judith Edelman Engel, and children Gregory Engel of Menlo Park, Jacqueline Leibsohn of Mercer Island, Laura Engel of Tarzana, and Stephen Engel of Breckenridge, Colorado; and seven grandchildren.

The family prefers contributions to the Sequoia Hospital Foundation, 170 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City, CA, 94062.


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