Name at birth: Orenthal James Simpson
Former football star O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder after a sensational 1995 trial, then convicted of armed robbery in a separate incident 13 years later. Nicknamed "The Juice" during his playing years, O.J. Simpson won the Heisman Trophy in 1968 as a running back for USC. Simpson starred professionally for the Buffalo Bills and then the San Francisco 49ers until his retirement in 1979. Handsome and charismatic, Simpson then found work as a sports announcer and sometime actor, and he was a familiar face on television as the spokesman for Hertz rental cars. On 12 June 1994, Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson was found brutally murdered at her home along with an acquaintance, Ronald Goldman. Suspicion immediately fell on O.J. Simpson, and he was arrested a few days later after fleeing his house in a car driven by his friend Al Cowlings. (His capture came after a strange low-speed chase by police on LA freeways, broadcast on live TV from helicopter cameras, with Simpson and Cowlings in a white Ford Bronco.) The resulting murder trial, also televised live, lasted nine months and made household names of peripheral characters like Simpson houseguest Kato Kaelin, defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran, and Judge Lance Ito. Simpson was acquitted of two counts of murder on 3 October 1995. (However, in 1997 he was held liable in civil court for both deaths.) No one else has ever been charged with the deaths of Nicole Simpson or Ron Goldman.
The publisher ReganBooks announced in 2006 that it would publish a book by Simpson titled If I Did It, in which he would "hypothetically describe how the murders would have been committed." Public outcry caused the book to be canceled, along with a proposed TV show. The next year, in an unrelated incident, Simpson was arrested in Las Vegas after he and other men entered a room at the Palace Station Hotel and attempted to seize Simpson-related sports memorabilia. Simpson was found guilty on 12 counts including conspiracy, kidnapping and armed robbery, and was sentenced in December 2008 to at least nine years in prison.
O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown were married in 1985; she filed for divorce 1992… O.J. Simpson played hapless Detective Nordberg in the cop movie spoof The Naked Gun (1988) and two sequels… Simpsons’s case has often been compared to that of former Baretta star Robert Blake, who was charged but later cleared in the killing of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley… The O.J. Simpson trial spawned the phrase “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” That was the statement made to the jury by his lawyer, Johnny Cochran, after Simpson struggled in court to put on a bloody glove left at the murder scene… A court ruling awarded the rights to If I Did It to the Goldman family, and they published the book in 2007 with the title If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer… O.J. Simpson’s nickname of “The Juice” was a play on the initials O.J.