“World’s Funniest Lawyer” Kenneth Kahn Dies After Falling Off Mountain in Machu Picchu

270px-Vista_de_Machu_PicchuKenneth Kahn, a well-known Los Angeles criminal defense attorney and amateur stand-up comedian, was died in a fall while climbing the mountain above Machu Picchu. He was 66.

Kahn represented convicted spy Andrew Daulton Lee in the case featured in the 1985 movie “The Falcon and the Snowman.” He also represented Ike Turner and Larry Flint. He would later sue and receive what he described as a “substantial settlement” from the movie due to his depiction as urging his client to inform on drug suppliers in exchange for reduced charges and then later helping Lee escape to Mexico.

He was famous for carrying a business card that read: “Kenny Kahn. World’s Funniest Attorney

Kahn’s moonlighting as a comedian was in some ways a return to the family business. He grew up on Ocean Park Pier (the Santa Monica amusement area) where his father worked as a carnival hustler. One of the jobs of his dad was to rig pinball machines and other games. Both his parent were heroin addicts. He was abandoned by his father after his mother went to jail for sex with a minor.

Kahn gave back to his community, as shown in this new clip.

In high school, he was hit with non-paralytic polio and had to use crutches.

That is quite a life’s struggle and he overcame all the odds when he graduated from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in 1965. Yet, his life struggle did not end there. In 1987, a defendant in a case involving an assault on a police officer stabbed Kahn in the chest in Torrance.

As a standup, he even used the attack as comedic material: “The guy was trying to stab me in the heart. But in a lawyer, it’s hard to find.”

For the full story, click here.

4 thoughts on ““World’s Funniest Lawyer” Kenneth Kahn Dies After Falling Off Mountain in Machu Picchu”

  1. Kenny was funny, spirited, strong and loyal. I never once heard him complain about his horrific childhood, & he was a mentor to his family & to many others. He wasn’t “just a lawyer” (which is actually an achievement in itself & especially for him considering his early environment); he was a defender of rights & freedoms, a champion to neglected or underprivledged young people, and a sweet, tough human being who brought joy & laughter wherever he went. He wasn’t perfect, but he was a gem.

  2. carl 1, June 2, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Ho hum. One less attorney.

    Ho Hum One less Carl. Do you not think someone would care if Carl fell off of a mountain as well?

  3. It sounds like he had a hard life and tried to make it greater than the sum of all that could have made many of us woller in the slop that we grew up with. What a way to go.

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