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The People v. O.J. Simpson: History vs. Hollywood

Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance | based on Jeffrey Toobin's book 'The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson'

Cuba Gooding Jr.
Born: January 2, 1968
The Bronx, New York City, New York, USA
Orenthal James "O.J." Simpson
Born: July 9, 1947
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, USA
Role: Defendant
Sarah Paulson
Born: December 17, 1974
Tampa, Florida, USA
Marcia Clark
Born: August 31, 1953
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, USA
Role: Head Prosecutor
Courtney B. Vance
Born: March 12, 1960
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Johnnie Cochran
Born: October 2, 1937
Birthplace: Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
Death: March 29, 2005, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California, USA (brain tumor)
Role: Defense Attorney
John Travolta
Born: February 18, 1954
Englewood, New Jersey, USA
Robert Shapiro
Born: September 2, 1942
Birthplace: Plainfield, New Jersey, USA
Role: Defense Attorney
Sterling K. Brown
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Christopher Darden
Born: April 7, 1956
Birthplace: Richmond, California, USA
Role: Prosecutor
David Schwimmer
Born: November 2, 1966
Astoria, New York, USA
Robert Kardashian
Born: February 22, 1944
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
Death: September 30, 2003, Los Angeles, California, USA (cancer)
Role: O.J.'s Friend / Defense Attorney
Kenneth Choi
Born: October 20, 1971
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Judge Lance Ito
Born: August 2, 1950
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
Billy Magnussen
Born: April 20, 1985
Woodhaven, New York City, New York, USA
Kato Kaelin
Born: March 9, 1959
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Role: O.J. Simpson's Houseguest
Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Born: August 18, 1970
Jersey City, New Jersey, USA
Al “A.C.” Cowlings
Born: June 16, 1947
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, USA
Role: O.J.'s Friend / Bronco Driver
Christian Clemenson
Born: March 17, 1958
Humboldt, Iowa, USA
Bill Hodgman
Born: December 14, 1952
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
Role: Prosecutor
Bruce Greenwood
Born: August 12, 1956
Noranda, Québec, Canada
Gil Garcetti
Born: August 5, 1941
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
Role: L.A. District Attorney
Nathan Lane
Born: February 3, 1956
Jersey City, New Jersey, USA
F. Lee Bailey
Born: June 10, 1933
Birthplace: Waltham, Massachusetts, USA
Role: Defense Attorney
Steven Pasquale
Born: November 18, 1976
Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
Mark Fuhrman
Born: February 5, 1952
Birthplace: Eatonville, Washington, USA
Role: LAPD Detective
Chris Bauer
Born: October 28, 1966
Los Angeles, California, USA
Tom Lange
Born: April 14, 1945
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Role: LAPD Detective
Michael McGrady
Born: March 30, 1960
Federal Way, Washington, USA
Philip Vannatter
Born: April 18, 1941
Birthplace: West Virginia, USA
Death: January 20, 2012, Santa Clarita, California, USA (cancer)
Role: LAPD Detective
Joseph Siravo
Born: February 12, 1957
New York City, New York, USA
Fred Goldman
Born: December 6, 1940
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Role: Father of Ron Goldman
Jessica Blair Herman
Los Angeles, California, USA
Kim Goldman
Born: December 26, 1971
Birthplace: Buffalo Grove, Illinois, USA
Role: Sister of Ron Goldman
Dale Godboldo
Born: July 5, 1975
Dallas, Texas, USA
Carl E. Douglas
Born: May 8, 1955
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
Role: Defense Attorney
Evan Handler
Born: January 10, 1961
New York City, New York, USA
Alan Dershowitz
Born: September 1, 1938
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Role: Appellate Adviser to Defense
Rob Morrow
Born: September 21, 1962
New Rochelle, New York, USA
Barry Scheck
Born: September 19, 1949
Birthplace: Queens, New York, USA
Role: Defense Attorney
Selma Blair
Born: June 23, 1972
Southfield, Michigan, USA
Kris Jenner
Born: November 5, 1955
Birthplace: San Diego, California, USA
Role: Friend of Nicole Brown Simpson / Robert Kardashian's Ex-Wife
Connie Britton
Born: March 6, 1967
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Faye Resnick
Born: July 3, 1957
Birthplace: Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, USA
Role: Friend of Nicole Brown Simpson
Jordana Brewster
Born: April 26, 1980
Panama City, Panama
Denise Brown
Born: July 29, 1957
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Role: Sister of Nicole Brown Simpson
Robert Morse
Born: May 18, 1931
Newton, Massachusetts, USA
Dominick Dunne
Born: October 29, 1925
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Death: August 26, 2009, Manhattan, New York City, USA (bladder cancer)
Role: Journalist for Vanity Fair / Father of Dominique Dunne
Brian Byrnes
Born: October 3, 1974
Parma, Ohio, USA
Gordon Clark
Born: June 14, 1958
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, USA
Role: Marcia Clark's Ex-Husband
(Pictured in more recent years)
Kelly Dowdle
Born: July 10, 1984
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
Nicole Brown Simpson
Born: May 19, 1959
Birthplace: Frankfurt, West Germany
Death: June 12, 1994, Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, USA (stabbing)
Role: Murder Victim / O.J.'s Ex-Wife
Jake Koeppl
Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA
Ron Goldman
Born: July 2, 1968
Birthplace: Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death: June 12, 1994, Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, USA (stabbing)
Role: Murder Victim
Having suffered through that trial with every bit of it smacking me in the face every day, watching justice get subverted every single day, it was the most devastating, constantly maddening, traumatizing experience of my life. -Prosecutor Marcia Clark,, April 2016

Questioning the Story:

Did Nicole's dog really tip off a neighbor that something was wrong?

Yes, but the true story behind The People v. O.J. Simpson TV show reveals that it didn't unfold exactly how it does onscreen. On the show, a neighbor immediately notices blood on Nicole's Akita's paws. In real life, Nicole Brown Simpson's Akita followed the neighbor home first. The dog then led the neighbors back to the scene where Nicole and Ron Goldman had been murdered. Listen to Mark Fuhrman describe how he believes the murders unfolded. -E! Online

Did Robert Kardashian really call Robert Shapiro to hire him to defend O.J.?

No. While fact-checking The People v. O.J. Simpson TV show, we learned that in real life Robert Shapiro was contacted by TV executive Roger King, not O.J.'s friend Robert Kardashian (portrayed by David Schwimmer on the show). Shapiro was at House of Blues when he got the call, not lunching at Mr. Chow. -E! Online

Did Johnnie Cochran initially call the case a "loser"?

No, at least not according to the real Johnnie Cochran. Portrayed by Courtney B. Vance on the TV show, the character is seen calling the case a "loser" in episode one, stating that he only takes winners. This is in Jeffrey Toobin's The Run of His Life book (which provided the basis for the show), but Cochran later denied saying it. -E! Online

Did O.J. Simpson really contemplate suicide in Kim Kardashian's bedroom?

According to Chloe Kardashian, it was in her bedroom that O.J. contemplated suicide, not her sister Kim's room. Kim would have been 14 at the time and Chloe 10. The TV show actually used the late Robert Kardashian's former home. "We actually got to shoot in Kardashian's house where all of this went down," says David Schwimmer, who portrays Robert Kardashian on the show. -The Late Late Show with James Corden

Did the Kardashian kids really chant "Kardashian, Kardashian" when their dad was reading the suicide note?

No. According to sisters Chloe and Kim Kardashian, the kids did not chant "Kardashian, Kardashian, Kardashian" as their father, Robert Kardashian, was reading O.J.'s potential suicide note (watch a video of the real Robert Kardashian reading O.J.'s suicide note). That part of The People v. O.J. Simpson TV show is pure fiction. -The Late Late Show with James Corden

Top: The real Robert Kardashian is pictured with his kids in the early 1990s. From left to right: Kim, Rob Jr., Kourtney, Khloe. Bottom: The People v. O.J. Simpson counterparts, actors Veronica Galvez, Nicolas Bechtel, Isabella Balbi and Morgan Bastin.

Is the TV show nearly word-for-word accurate?

No. "This series is not a documentary," says author Jeffrey Toobin, who consulted on the show and wrote the book on which it was based. "It is not a word-for-word recreation. But in terms of the essential truths of the events, in terms of the insights into the characters, it is brilliant and everyone will learn a lot and be entertained a lot." -E! Online

Did O.J. and Nicole's daughter Sydney leave a tearful message on her mom's answering machine?

Yes. On the TV show, Sydney Simpson leaves the distraught message for her mother while the forensics team is collecting evidence. "Please answer," she begs her mother. Jeffrey Toobin mentions the message in his book, but he only says that Sydney left it at "some point" and doesn't say who discovered it.

How long did the O.J. Simpson chase last?

In fact-checking The People v. O.J. Simpson TV show, we learned that the O.J. Simpson chase lasted approximately an hour and fifteen minutes. Like on the show, friend Al Cowlings (A.C.) was at the wheel of the white Ford Bronco, while O.J. Simpson held a gun in the back seat, threatening to kill himself.

Were there really two white Broncos?

Yes. In researching The People v. O.J. Simpson true story, we learned that like on the TV show, O.J.'s friend Al Cowlings (A.C.) bought the same car as O.J., his idol. The white Bronco seen in the chase was Cowling's, not O.J.'s white Bronco that the police found blood on. -E! Online

Did Fred Goldman tell Marcia Clark that his son became "a footnote to his own murder?"

No. Though the father of the slain Ron Goldman did make his feelings regarding the case known to the media, the exchange in Marcia Clark's office is fiction. The TV show's writers created the scene, including the remark by Fred Goldman, that his son became "a footnote to his own murder."

Was there really a hearing to decide whether the prosecution could use more than ten hairs from O.J.'s head for DNA testing?

Yes. While investigating The People v. O.J. Simpson true story, we learned that this actually did happen. A hearing was held to determine whether the prosecution could procure more than ten hairs from O.J.'s head for DNA testing. Unlike on the show, Johnnie Cochran was not yet a member of the Dream Team (he joined July 18th). -E! Online

Was Marcia Clark going through a divorce at the time?

Yes. Fact-checking The People v. O.J. Simpson revealed that Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark filed for divorce three days before the killings. -Inside The People v. O.J. Simpson

Did Marcia Clark really tell Judge Lance Ito that she had to go home to her children?

Yes. "I just, I can't be here," an exasperated Marcia Clark told Judge Lance Ito during the trial. -Inside Edition

Did Johnnie Cochran receive death threats while defending O.J. Simpson?

Yes. According to Lawrence Schiller's book American Tragedy, the majority of the defense team received threats and were harassed.

Was Johnnie Cochran really pulled over by the police?

Yes. According to The People v. O.J. Simpson true story, this happened in 1979, not 1982. Cochran was driving his first Rolls-Royce (with his initials on the plates) down Sunset Boulevard when he was pulled over for no apparent reason. Two of his three young children were in the back seat. The officers drew their guns and told Cochran to get out of the car with his hands up. His children started crying. The officers searched his European-style purse and found his DA office badge. -The Washington Post

Did Marcia Clark cry in court?

No. On the American Crime Story TV show, Marcia Clark cries in court after just having seen tabloid photos of herself. Despite the photos really happening, the crying in court didn't. "Trial lawyers all know, you can't show anything," says the real Marcia Clark. "You have to have a poker face, and believe me, if I had cried in court, can you imagine what they would have said? Things were bad enough guys." -The View

The real Marcia Clark did face criticism over her appearance, and like on the TV show, changed her hairstyle twice during the course of the trial, which lasted more than eight months.

Did Detective Mark Fuhrman own a Nazi medal?

The TV show depicts Detective Mark Fuhrman carefully wiping the glass of a case where he keeps a Nazi medal. The inclusion of the medal is fictional. In reality, there were never any reports of Fuhrman having a Nazi medal. However, in September 1995, the L.A. Times reported that Deputy District Attorney Lucienne Coleman conveyed to the defense that Mark Fuhrman had painted swastikas on the locker of a colleague who had gotten married to a Jewish woman. However, two of the police officers who Coleman claimed to have told her the story denied ever making such statements. In her declaration, Coleman also says she was told that Fuhrman sometimes went out on weekends adorned in Nazi paraphernalia.

Did Alan Dershowitz really fax messages directly to the courtroom?

Yes. The real Alan Dershowitz did fax messages directly to the L.A. courtroom while teaching at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Did Johnnie Cochran really say "n---er, please..." to Chris Darden after rebutting Darden's request to have the N-word banned from the courtroom?

Yes. According to author Jeffrey Toobin, Cochran did in fact lean over and whisper "n---er please" to Christopher Darden after Cochran annihilated Darden's argument to have the N-word stricken from the courtroom. "I was so furious with him," Cochran told TIME magazine. "I felt it was an insult to all black people." Darden had been worried that if the defense brought up Detective Mark Fuhrman's alleged use of the N-word, it would immediately turn the jury against him.

Did the defense really redecorate O.J.'s house for the jury's visit?

Yes. One might think it would have been required that O.J.'s house remain in the state it was in at the time of the murders, perhaps to be used for evidence. Surprisingly, the defense was indeed able to stage O.J. Simpson's house to emphasize to the jury that O.J. was a respectable family man. -Dateline

Did prosecutor Bill Hodgman really collapse in court?

No. On The People v. O.J. Simpson TV show, Deputy District Attorney Bill Hodgman becomes upset and collapses on the courtroom floor after Johnnie Cochran introduces witnesses that had not been disclosed to the prosecution. It is implied that he has a heart attack. In real life, Bill Hodgman never collapsed on the floor of the courtroom. He had chest pains later in the day and was taken to the hospital. The doctor concluded that it was stress-related but was not a heart attack.

Did Robert Shapiro really fiddle with the gloves and realize they'd be too small on O.J.?

Yes. Jeffrey Toobin writes in his book The Run of His Life that most of the defense lawyers were playing with the gloves. It was both Shapiro and Cochran (not just Shapiro) who observed that the extra-large gloves seemed slightly small. Like on the show, when O.J. tried the gloves on in real life, he appeared to struggle somewhat to get them on his hands. What the show doesn't reveal is that a lot of people, including legal experts and prosecutors, didn't think the gloves looked that small on O.J.'s hands. Yet, it was something that the defense embraced and ran with, leading to Johnnie Cochran's quote, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." In real life, the former Isotoner exec actually testified that the latex gloves Mr. Simpson wore underneath while trying them on was the reason for the snug fit. "At one point in time, those gloves would actually be, I think, large on Mr. Simpson's hands," the exec told the court. -E! Online

In what led up to the case's most memorable quote, the real O.J. Simpson did try the gloves on in court, smirking when he realized that he could show they didn't fit properly.

Did O.J.'s visitors really play poker with him in jail?

No. Here, the TV show largely deviates from the true story. O.J.'s visitors met with him through bulletproof glass, even Robert Shapiro and Johnnie Cochran. Robert Kardashian later commented to Barbara Walters that it was tough not being able to touch or hug his friend in jail. Obviously, there were no poker games.

Was prosecutor Marcia Clark a rape victim?

Yes, according to her memoir Without a Doubt, she was assaulted by a waiter while vacationing in Israel with friends when she was 17.

Did the jury really deliberate for four hours?

No. According to the real Marcia Clark, the jury deliberated for two hours before coming back with a verdict, not four, meaning there was almost no deliberation. Clark says that unlike what is seen on The People v. O.J. Simpson TV show, the prosecution had no doubt that Simpson would be let off. Watch Oprah's audience react to the O.J. Simpson verdict as it's read live.

Did one of the deputies guarding O.J. really tell him the verdict?

Yes, at least in so many words. The deputy asked for O.J.'s autograph and told him that a fellow deputy on jury detail said that O.J. shouldn't be nervous. -The Run of His Life

Did Christopher Darden confront Johnnie Cochran after the verdict?

No. The People v. O.J. Simpson true story reveals that the confrontation between Darden and Cochran is more of a mash-up of real conversations than an actual event. After Cochran's win, the TV show has Darden telling him that the victory "isn't some civil-rights milestone. Police in this country will keep arresting us and beating us, keep killing us. You haven't changed anything for black people here. Unless of course you're a famous rich one in Brentwood."

Did Chris Darden really break down at the press conference after the trial?

Yes. Despite saying, "I'm not bitter, and I'm not angry," like on the show, Darden then walked away from the podium to hug the Goldmans. He later told Oprah Winfrey that his statement was a lie, saying on her show that the trial was "a mockery, a circus, a joke. It was a waste of my life. A waste of the lives of my colleagues. It was pointless."

Did TIME magazine really Photoshop O.J.'s face to make him look darker?

Yes. TIME really did use a filter on O.J.'s face for its "An American Tragedy" cover. Controversy ensued, as some insisted that it was a racist move. The then director of the NAACP, Benjamin Chavis Jr., remarked, "The way he's pictured, it' like he's some kind of animal." Jesse Jackson appeared on CNN and likened the cover to "institutional racism."

TIME really did run a darkened image of O.J. on the front cover.

Did O.J. Simpson's son really give him a puppy as a welcome home gift after the trial?

Yes. Strangely and unbelievably, his son Jason gave him an eight-week-old Great Dane.

Did O.J. deliver the statement at his Rockingham house?

No. In researching the true story behind The People v. O.J. Simpson, we learned that it was his oldest son Jason who delivered the statement, not O.J.

Did O.J. really throw the "party of the century" after he was released?

Yes. On the night of his release, the party was held at his Rockingham estate. Star magazine paid O.J. a six figure sum to photograph the party, which was reportedly a much quieter event than Simpson had originally hoped for.

Was the relationship between Marcia Clark and Chris Darden really that flirtatious?

It appears so. Despite Marcia Clark calling rumors that they hooked up "ridiculous," in his 1996 book In Contempt, Chris Darden wrote, "We sat up listening to hip-hop and R&B. We danced a few times and drank a few bottles of wine. In my mind, that is a relationship." They both have mentioned a trip to the Bay Area together, but the scene at Marcia's hotel room door when they almost kiss is more fiction than fact. Marcia then being mad that Chris didn't make a move is the show's creation as well.

O.J. Simpson Interviews, Bronco Chase & Related Videos

Further explore The People v. O.J. Simpson true story by watching the full Bronco chase, O.J. interviews, and his verdict unfolding live on Oprah. Also watch a Mark Fuhrman Oprah interview during which the former detective describes how he believes O.J. murdered ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

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