If I Did It
“The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuses, that's the day you start to the top.” OJ Simpson
Retired football player and Razzie Award-winning actor OJ Simpson, born Orenthal James Simpson, was launched to national fame as a star running back for the U.S.C. Trojans, for which he set NCAA records and was named one of the best running backs of all time. As a professional player, the 1968 Heisman Trophy winner reached the zenith of his success with the Buffalo Bills in 1973 when he became the first NFL player to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season. He was awarded the year's NFL MVP, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Pro Bowl MVP as well as the Bert Bell Award. Joining the Bills in 1969, Simpson continued to play for his team until 1977 when he traded to the San Francisco 49ers. He retired from football two years later in 1979. Simpson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
As an actor, African American Simpson began his career in the late 1960s with guest spots in television series like “Ironside” and “Medical Center,” but he did not break into the cinematic industry until 1974 with Terence Young's “The Klansman.” He went on to have significant roles in such movies as the Academy Award winner “The Towering Inferno” (1974), “Capricorn One” (1978), “Goldie and the Boxer” (1979, TV) and “Goldie and the Boxer Go to Hollywood” (1981, TV), but Simpson is probably best remembered for his scene-stealing portrayal of Nordberg in the 1988 hit comedy “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” and its two sequels, “The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear” (1991) and “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult” (1994). He won his Razzie award for the last trilogy. Simpson also served as a commentator on “NFL Monday Night Football” from 1973 to 1985.
Apart from sport and acting, Simpson is widely known for his lengthy criminal trial upon the death of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend Ron Goldman in June 1994. He was found not guilty for the murders in 1995, but a civil jury two years later found him liable for the damages in the murders. Commenting about the murder of his former wife, he said, “Let's say I committed this crime...even if I did do this, it would have been because I loved her very much, right?.”
Currently, Simpson served his at-least-nine year sentence at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada after he was found guilty of multiple felony charges, including kidnapping and armed robbery, in October 2008. He was arrested in September 2007 in Las Vegas after entering a room at the Palace Station hotel-casino and taking sports memorabilia at gunpoint. One day before the Las Vegas incident, Simpson's postponed book, “If I Did It,” was released by the Goldman family under the title “If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer.”
Simpson is the father of five. He has three children with first wife Marguerite L. Whitley, whom he married from 1967 to 1979, and two children with Nicole Brown, whom he married from 1985 to 1992.
Childhood and Family:
Orenthal James Simpson, who would later be known as OJ Simpson, was born on July 9, 1947, in San Francisco, California, to James 'Jimmie' Lee Simpson, a cook and bank steward, and Eunice Durden Simpson, a hospital administrator. The name Orenthal was given by his aunt and it was allegedly the name of a French actor she idolized. When he was two years old, OJ has a severe case of rickets, which forced him to wear leg braces until age 5.
After the divorce of his parents in 1952, OJ and his three siblings (brother Melvin Leon Simpson and sisters Shirley Simpson-Baker and Carmelita Simpson-Durio), were reared by their mother in the tough, mostly African American Potrero Hill section of San Francisco. As a youth, he became involved with a street gang named The Persian Kings/the Persian Warriors, and in 1962, after a fight, he was briefly sent to the city's juvenile detention center.
Despite the rocky upbringing, OJ was an excellent football player. At Galileo High School in San Francisco, he played for the school football team, the Galileo Lions. He went on to play football at the City College of San Francisco from 1965 to 1966, during which time he broke junior-college records and made it to the Junior College All-American team as a running back. In 1967, OJ won an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California. He played running back for the USC Trojans until he turned professional in 1969.
On June 24, 1967, OJ, whose nickname is The Juice, was married to Marguerite L. Whitley, and he welcomed his first child, daughter Arnelle Simpson, on December 4, 1968. His second child, son Jason L. Simpson, was born on April 21, 1970. Son Aaren Simpson completed the family on September 24, 1977. However, Aaren died two years later on August 26, 1979 due to drowning. Also in 1979, OJ and his wife divorced. OJ found a new love in German-born Nicole Brown Simpson (born on May 19, 1959), whom he met in 1977 in a Beverly Hills nightclub where she worked as a waitress. The couple married on February 2, 1985, but the bond later ended in separation in 1992. They shared two children, a daughter, Sydney Brook Simpson (born on October 17, 1985) and a son, Justin Ryan Simpson (born on August 6, 1988).
On June 12, 1994, Nicole was killed outside her Brentwood home with her friend, Ronald Goldman. OJ was criminally charged for the murders. Although he was acquitted in 1995, he was found financially responsible for their deaths in a subsequent civil trial in 1997. The long-running highly publicized criminal trial made OJ a very popular name.
After breaking junior-college records at the City College of San Francisco, OJ Simpson emerged as a football star with the USC Trojans. As a running back, he led the nation in rushing in two consecutive years from 1967 to 1968, and even won the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award in1968 after he ran for 1,709 yards and scored 22 touchdowns. He was also a two-time Walter Camp award-winner. Simpson ended his collegian career in 1969 and subsequently signed to the Buffalo Bills as No. 1 draft pick. Also in that same year, he created a history for being one of the highest paid football players after signing a $400,000 four-year contract with the Bills.
Simpson's first three season with the Bills proved disappointing when he averaged only 622 yards per season. In 1972, he scored his first rush of more than 1,000 yards, but it was not until 1973 that Simpson made a new record when he rushed for 2,003 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. For his bright achievement, Simpson was named the 1973 NFL MVP, the 1973 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, the 1973 Pro Bowl MVP and the AP Man Athlete of the Year, as well as winning the 1973 Bert Bell Award. He kept on scoring over 1,000 rushing yard per season for the next three years.
In 1974, Simpson, who had received small roles in a string of television series since 1968, made his feature film acting debut in “The Klansman,” an action/thriller directed by Terence Young. As Garth, he costarred in the movie along side Lee Marvin, Richard Burton and Cameron Mitchell. He continued to played the key supporting role of Harry Jernigan on the Oscar darling “The Towering Inferno” (1974), opposite Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen. In 1976, Simpson teamed up with Peter Fonda, Telly Savalas and Christopher Lee for director Val Guest's action/thriller, “Killer Force,” and supported Sophia Loren, Richard Harris and Martin Sheen in the international film “The Cassandra Crossing,” which hit the USA in February 1977.
Meanwhile, in 1975, Simpson signed a lucrative contract with the Hertz car rental company to become their spokesman. He appeared in a series of popular TV advertisements for the company, performances that kept him in the public eye. Simpson's other endorsement deals included Pioneer Chicken, Honeybaked Ham and the pX Corporation.
Still an active football player, 1976 also found Simpson signing a three-year-contract with the Bills for $2.5 million over three years. However, his 1977 season with the team was marked with injury, which led to the trading of Simpson to the San Francisco 49ers. Following a two-unnoticeable season with the 49ers, Simpson retired from professional football in 1979.
From 1977 to 1979, Simpson managed to continue his acting career. He appeared in the acclaimed miniseries “Roots” (as Kadi Touray), and got his first starring role on the made-for-TV film “A Killing Affair” (both 1977). He also memorably portrayed Cmdr. John Walker and Joe Gallagher in the 1978 Peter Hyams drama “Capricorn One” and the 1979 telepic “Goldie and the Boxer,” which he also executive produced.
Following his retirement from football, Simpson pursued his showbiz career more professionally. He served as executive producer and starred in in the TV films “Detour to Terror” (1980), “Goldie and the Boxer Go to Hollywood” (1981) and “Cocaine and Blue Eyes” (1983), and joined Lillian Gish and Candy Clark to star in the independent film “Hambone and Hillie” (1983). In 1985, Simpson could be seen as a color commentator on ABC's “NFL Monday Night Football,” a post he held since 1973, but did not join the cast of HBO's football sitcom, “1st & Ten,” until a year later in 1986. He portrayed the fictional ex-running back great T.D. Parker for five years. After a four year absence, Simpson returned to the big screen by playing the famous supporting role of Det. Nordberg on the David Zucker hit comedy “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!,” starring Leslie Nielsen.
1991 saw Simpson reprise his role of Nordberg on the sequel “The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear.” He then costarred with Lorenzo Lamas and Kathleen Kinmont on the 1992 action “CIA Code Name: Alexa” and worked with Illana Diamant, Kris Kristofferson, Drew Barrymore and Martin Landau for the 1993 thriller “No Place to Hide,” helmed and penned by Richard Danus. Simpson once again recreated the role of Nordberg for the third sequel “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult” (1994). Unfortunately for him, the role brought the former football player a 1995 Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor. It marks his last film appearance to date.
Simpson, who just completed several episodes of the syndicated TV series “Frogmen,” however, did not gain wider attention until he was charged and arrested upon the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend Ron Goldman in June 1994. The incident happened five years after Simpson pleaded no contest to a domestic violence accuse against Nicole. At the time, he was ordered to undergo psychiatric counseling and put on two years of probation.
Following his 1994 arrest, Simpson had to experience a lengthy criminal trial, which became one of the most widely publicized in the history of American, and when it climaxed on October 3, 1995, Simpson was found not guilty of the double murder. Two years later, however, on February 4, 1997, a civil jury solidly found him responsible for restitution in the murders, and he was ordered to pay $33,500,000 fine, which he has paid little of the amount to date.
Nine years later, in late 2006, Simpson again became the center of attraction when he penned a book titled “If I Did It,” which claims to be a first-person fictional statement of the murder he had actually committed it. However, the book was drawn back by the publisher ReganBooks just before its release. When the book was eventually released in 2007, it was the Goldman family who got the rights to the book, which was retitled “If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer.”
In September 2007, Simpson found himself being arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada after he and other men got into a room at the Palace Station Hotel and tried to take Simpson-related sports memorabilia. He was charged with a dozen of counts, including deadly weaponed robbery, conspiracy, kidnapping, and on October 3, 2008, he was found guilty of all charges. As a result, Simpson was sentenced to at least nine years in prison. He served his conviction at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada.
Razzie: Worst Supporting Actor, “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult,” 1995
NFL Offensive Player of the Year: 1973
NFL MVP: 1973
Bert Bell Award: 1973
Pro Bowl MVP: 1973
UPI AFL-AFC Player of the Year: 1972, 1973, 1975
Heisman Trophy: 1968
Maxwell Award: 1968
Walter Camp Award: 1967, 1968