Maurice Rosenfield, Attorney Who Was a Stage and Film Producer, Dead at 91

Obituaries   Maurice Rosenfield, Attorney Who Was a Stage and Film Producer, Dead at 91
Maurice Rosenfield, a prominent Chicago-based civil liberties lawyer who, in the course of a 65-year career became a producer of feature films and award-winning Broadway plays, died Oct. 30 of heart failure at age 91, his family announced.

With his late wife Lois, he produced Barnum in New York (1980), which won three Tony Awards, and brought the film "Singin' in the Rain" to the New York stage in 1985. It went on to be a popular international stage title, winning awards in London and Paris.

His first film, "Bang the Drum Slowly" (1973), a baseball story about the friendship between a dying catcher and a pitcher, introduced a young Robert DeNiro to a wider audience and won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination for Vincent Gardenia.

According to his family, Mr. Rosenfield was principal outside attorney for Playboy magazine during its formative years, successfully fighting censorship in a number of venues. In a landmark first-amendment case in 1964, he represented Lenny Bruce before the Illinois Appellate Court, winning the controversial comedian an acquittal on obscenity charges. A 1941 article that Mr. Rosenfield co-authored, "The Contemporary Function of the Class Suit," is widely credited as giving birth to today’s class-action suit.

Mr. Rosenfield also was the founding partner and general manager of WAIT 820 AM, one of Chicago’s top rated radio stations in the '60s and early '70s.

He then turned to film producing with "Bang the Drum Slowly," which Mr. Rosenfield independently financed and produced, and which was later picked up for distribution by Paramount Pictures. Other Broadway projects included the 1984 revival of The Glass Menagerie starring Jessica Tandy, Athol Fugard's The Road to Mecca and Falsettoland (1990). Maurice Rosenfield was born in Chicago on July 8, 1914, and was one of six brothers and a sister. He was graduated from Senn High School, earned a BA at the University of Chicago, Phi Beta Kappa, and was graduated from the University of Chicago Law School with the Order of the Coif. He married Lois Fried in 1948 and established Rosenfield Productions with her in 1972. The couple made their home in Glencoe, where he remained after her death last year.

He is survived by his sons James, a TV news producer and college instructor in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Andrew, a managing partner of the international financial services firm, Guggenheim Partners and Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School; his daughter-in-law, Betsy; and four grandchildren Zak, Alex, Lannie and Jake.

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