“Get Me Giesler!” Hollywood’s First Superstar Lawyer

Jerry Giesler with some unknown starlet. Wonder if she ever made it in the business? Hmmm.

Giesler (R) with Errol Flynn (LAPL)

In days of yore, whenever a celebrity got themselves into hot water the cry of “Get Me Giesler!” could be heard reverberating across the foothills and into the canyons of Hollywood. The reason was simple, Jerry Giesler (pronounced Geese-ler) could get you off no matter what the offense, be it drugs, robbery or even murder and he had the track record and enormous fees to prove it. In his impressive fifty year run as a lawyer, Giesler took on a wide variety of cases ranging from indecent exposure to capital murder. A brilliant courtroom tactician, Giesler was renowned for his uncanny skill at handling juries, an ability proven time and again in such famous trials as the “Little Fellow in the Attic” case, the rape trials of Alexander Pantages and Errol Flynn, the Charlie Chaplin paternity case, the murder trial of legendary choreographer/director Busby Berkeley and the pot possession trial of Robert Mitchum, among many others. One of Giesler’s most celebrated cases was the indecent exposure trial of Lili St. Cyr, the famous stripper,  in which he had the corpulent and deeply embarrassed Herman Hover, owner of Ciro’s nightclub, where the alleged crime took place, demonstrate a “bump and grind” before the packed courtroom. “His version of that fairly pagan  and primitive movement,” recalled Giesler, “was so ridiculous  that titters started in the courtroom – and grew into a roar.” Acquittal on all counts.

Giesler with Charlie Chaplin at his sensational paternity trial. (LAPL)

Giesler & Ruth attend the races (LAPL)

While no one would ever have mistaken the short, squat and balding Giesler for one of his celebrity clients, he nonetheless matched them in the glamorous way he lived, residing with his beautiful second wife Ruth in a handsome English-styled estate built on its own triangle between Camden and Benedict Canyon Drives and Sunset Boulevard at 901 Benedict Canyon Drive. Built in 1948 and surrounded by more than an acre of lushly landscaped grounds, the Gieslers showplace residence had been decorated by well-known interior designer Jane Lynch Geraghty, who used soft pastel colors to achieve a warm, restful effect as well as providing a striking backdrop for the many fine pieces the couple had collected through the years. Geraghty’s efforts earned the home a spread in Architectural Digest in 1954.

Jerry Giesler's house can't be seen from the road, which is, no doubt, exactly the way he wanted it. (via Google Earth)

The Giesler Entrance Hall. 1954. Jane Lynch Geraghty designed the interesting wrought iron bannister. (George R. Szanick)

The Giesler Living Room. The color scheme is black, white and robin's egg blue. Note the intricately designed screens separating it from the Lanai Room. (George R. Szanick)

The Lanai Room. Colors here are grey, white, black and apricot. (George R. Szanick)

The Dining Room. Modern Chinese furnishings by Baker. Here, the color scheme is black, white and apricot. (George R. Szanick)

The Master Bedroom. Here Geraghty used French blue and white as the color scheme. (George R. Szanick)

A thrilled Lili St. Cyr thanks her mouthpiece. She even got her g-string back!

Throughout the 1950’s, the tastefully decorated rooms of the Giesler estate became the setting for many gracious affairs both large and small, including a number related to the venerable lawyer’s role as president of the Beverly Hills Bar Association. Giesler’s legendary career came to an end only after he was felled by a series of heart attacks beginning in 1959, which forced him to retire to his fine Benedict Canyon home. It was there that he died at age of 75, peacefully in his sleep, on New Year’s Day 1962. Today, more than a generation after his passing, Jerry Giesler is still remembered each year by the Los Angeles Criminal Courts Bar Association who have created the Jerry Giesler Memorial Award in honor of their illustrious predecessor. And today there are many, many celebrities (hello Lindsay Lohan) who would benefit mightily if they could still yell out to “Get Me Giesler!”

By the way, if you ever run across this in a used book store, pick it up. it’s a fun read and something of a collectible. Published in 1960, it’s been out of print for years.

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