Gregson (Greg) Bautzer, an entertainment lawyer who represented some of the most glamorous stars of Hollywood in the 1940s and '50s and romanced many others, died Monday morning of heart failure at his Beverly Hills home while dressing to go work. He was 76.
Bautzer, engaged to Lana Turner and Dorothy Lamour and once married to actress Dana Wynter, was an attorney with movie star looks who became one of the most prominent entertainment lawyers in Hollywood.
At the time of his death, Bautzer, still actively representing a list of clients ranging from billionaire Kirk Kerkorian to television preacher Gene Scott, was a senior partner in the firm of Wyman, Bautzer, Christensen, Kuchel & Silbert.
In Failing Health
Friends said Bautzer had been in failing health for the last four years after a heart bypass operation. With him when he died was his fourth wife, Niki, whom he married three years ago.
"He was a hell of a guy," said attorney Frank Rothman, a former associate of Bautzer and president of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer after the movie firm was taken over by Kerkorian. "If you ever needed a friend to back you up in a fight, there was a guy you wanted."
"In his earlier days he represented Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Ingrid Bergman, all the old female beauties," Rothman added. "He stayed active in his law firm right until the end. He was brushing his teeth in the bathroom when he died."
Tributes to Bautzer, a legendary figure in the legal community for his courtly manner and fast-living former life style, came from some of the city's most prominent legal figures as well as less well-known admirers who found themselves charmed by Bautzer's personal warmth.
"He was a legend in his own time," said attorney Howard L. Weitzman, who joined Bautzer's firm last year. "The thing I remember most about him was he had an enthusiasm for the practice of law at an age when most people aren't alive. He was a trial lawyer through and through."
Glendale Municipal Judge Barbara Lee Burke said she met Bautzer in her courtroom two years ago during a routine case involving a member of Scott's church. She said Bautzer was one of the most extraordinary men she had ever met.
"He was so courtly and so charming to everyone," she said. "He would notice everything going on. We had a squeaky door, and during a break one day he went out and got a can of oil to fix it. After the trial he called me up and invited me out to lunch.
"We got to be friends," Burke said. "He was such an exceptional person. He was like a magical person. This strong, tough man. But also so kindly."
Bautzer, a Navy pilot during World War II, became a fixture in the society pages in the early years of his law career with a series of highly publicized Hollywood romances. He also had a series of drunk-driving charges and eventually lost his driver's license in 1948, but friends said he stopped drinking more than a decade ago.
In addition to his other contributions, Bautzer was a founder of the Los Angeles Music Center. He is survived by his wife and a son, Mark, from his marriage to Miss Wynter. Services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church.