For eight seasons, L.A. Law ruled NBC’s primetime lineup from 1986 to 1994, and we couldn’t wait for that opening sequence every Thursday night of the car trunk being slammed shut revealing a personalized license plate that read LA LAW. The legal drama series centered around the fictional Los Angeles–based law firm McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak — later to add “Becker” to the firm’s roster. And today, the cast of L.A. Law is now the stuff of legends. And on November 3, all 172 episodes of the classic legal drama — remastered by Disney in HD — will be available to stream on Hulu.
The large ensemble cast made superstars from some of the rookie actors, and the show was also well-known for giving unknown names a leg up with special guest starring roles. Kathy Bates, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, William H. Macy, Christian Slater, Lucy Liu and many more got their start on the legal procedural and went on to great success in film and television. Several episodes even included celebrity cameos from Vanna White and Buddy Hackett to name a few.
What was L.A. Law about?
Created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, this popular drama featured diverse plots that were strongly character-based and dealt with the personal lives and professional activities of the law partners, associates and staff. Scenes took place in the courtroom and in the law offices. Storylines ran the gamut from sexual harassment to HIV/AIDS to racism to abortion — still very timely and hotbed issues.
Co-creator Fisher, a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles, received many letters from lawyers who complained about the show. She composed a form letter she was thinking of sending out to these lawyers: Dear So-and-So: If I were a good lawyer, I’d still be practicing law. Instead, I’m stuck in Hollywood, making 10 times as much money. I hope you are as conscientious about your clients as you are about our show.”
Cast of L.A. Law: Where are they now?
Here we catch up with a few of our favorite characters to see what they are doing today.
Harry Hamlin as Michael Kuzak
Before Harry Hamlin was cast as attorney Michael Kuzak, he had established himself on both stage and in film, with his breakout role in the 1981 Greek mythology fantasy Clash of the Titans.
From 1986 to 1991, he remained a lead character in the cast of L.A. Law, during which time he was voted People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1987. “I think people enjoyed L.A. Law so much because it was the first show that delved into current events through the prism of the law.” Harry left the series at the end of the 5th season. He married actress Lisa Rinna in 1997. Currently, he is starring on AMC’s Mayfair Witches as Cortland Mayfair and co-starred in this year’s hit film 80 for Brady.
Corbin Bernsen as Arnie Becker
After a two-year stint on the soap opera Ryan’s Hope, Corbin Bernsen got his big break being lawyer Arnold Becker in the cast of L.A. Law. Bernsen garnered Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, numerous magazine covers and guest-starring roles on Seinfeld and The Larry Sanders Show.
The Los Angeles native remained on L.A. Law for the entire run of the show, until it ended in 1994. He was so eager to get this role that he drove cross-country in his Jeep to track down show creator Bochco and asked him to give him another shot after a dismal first audition. Other TV and film roles came Corbin’s way, including a return to daytime with General Hospital and a co-starring role on USA’s Psych.
He has been married to actress Amanda Pays since 1988 and is the father of four sons. The couple moved to the Hudson Valley in Upstate New York in 2019, where he focuses on projects that can be shot locally. This year, Corbin was seen in HBO’s White House Plumbers with Woody Harrelson, and the feature film Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist.
Jill Eikenberry as Anne Kelsey
Jill Eikenberry’s main focus starting out was theater, and she made her Broadway debut in 1974’s All Over Town. She continued with stage throughout the ’70s and ’80s, and started to rack up TV credits and film success, co-starring in Arthur.
She and husband Michael Tucker scored a major coup by each securing parts on L.A. Law. Jill received five Emmy nominations and four Golden Globe Awards for her portrayal of Anne Kelsey. The couple moved to Los Angeles and she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was successfully treated over two years. Since L.A. Law’s end, Jill’s film and TV appearances have been occasional. Jill and Michael currently live in both New York and Umbria.
Michael Tucker as Stuart Markowitz
Married to Jill Eikenberry since 1973, Michael Tucker has written three books, including Living in a Foreign Language: A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Love in Italy, which describes his buying a house in a small Italian village and mastering the fine art of Italian cooking. He and Jill are active in fundraising for breast cancer research and treatment. Michael’s last appearance was this year on the short-lived CBS show East New York (alongside L.A. Law co-star Jimmy Smits!) as Sy Somers.
Alan Rachins as Douglas Brackman Jr.
Alan Rachins began his career in theater, including a Broadway production of After the Rain and off-Broadway in The Trojan Women. But he put his acting career on hold, accepting a fellowship in the writing and directing programs at the American Film Institute. He sold several scripts to a variety of shows, including The Fall Guy, Hill Street Blues, Quincy and Hart to Hart.
Yet Alan returned to acting, which led to his role in the cast of L.A. Law. A recent theater appearance was in the world premiere of Attacks of the Heart in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Alan and actress Joanna Frank have been married since 1978 and have a son. Alan is a member of Mensa.
Fun Fact: Alan’s character, Douglas, kept a portrait of his father in his office. This portrait was of Alan’s real father.
Michele Greene as Abby Perkins
Michele Greene attended the University of Southern California on a scholarship. It was during these years that she began working in television, appearing in guest shots and TV movies. After graduation, Michele was cast as Judy Nuckles in the short-lived Bochco series Bay City Blues, but Bochco kept Michele in mind and offered her the Abby Perkins role on L.A. Law in 1986.
The series would launch Michele into stardom and she continued in this role for five seasons, leaving in 1991 to pursue her musical career and continue her acting in other roles. She was seen in a number of popular TV series, including Cold Case, Crossing Jordan, JAG, Nip/Tuck and a recurring role on HBO’s Big Love. She has recorded two bilingual CDs and has written two young-adult novels, Keep Sweet and Chasing the Jaguar: A Martika Galvez Mystery.
Jimmy Smits as Victor Sifuentes
For the first 5 minutes, Jimmy Smits appeared as Sonny Crockett’s original partner on the first episode of Miami Vice in 1984 before falling victim to a car bomb. That was one of his earliest roles, but beginning in 1986, L.A. Law came knocking and Jimmy had a longer career as Victor Sifuentes in the first five seasons, for which he was nominated for six Emmy Awards, winning in 1990.
In 1987, Jimmy made his feature film debut as drug dealer Julio Gonzalez in the comedy/action cop film Running Scared, opposite Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines. One of his most acclaimed roles was on NYPD Blue as Detective Bobby Simone.
More recently, Jimmy co-starred as Assistant Chief John Suarez on East New York. Off camera, Jimmy helped found the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts. “I’ve been very lucky to work on a wide variety of projects, including two long-run and top-10 dramatic TV shows,” he has said. “That is why it is so important to offer a helping hand to the next generation of young Latinos coming up behind me.”
Susan Ruttan as Roxanne Melman
It was the role of Roxanne Melman on L.A. Law from 1986 to 1993 that gave Susan Ruttan entrée to Hollywood recognition, earning her four Emmy nominations. She reprised the role in 2022 for a TV reunion, L.A. Law: The Movie. But Susan had a varied acting career prior to Law.
She was seen on The Jeffersons and Bosom Buddies, and has since appeared on Third Rock from the Sun, Newhart and Gilmore Girls, among others. Her most dramatic role was in the 2004 remake of Helter Skelter, where she played the mother of Linda Kasabian. Last year, Susan appeared on ABC’s The Good Doctor, and in 2021, played a nurse on the hit Showtime series Shameless.
Blair Underwood as Jonathan Rollins
Blair Underwood made his film debut in Krush Groove, and in 1985, appeared on The Cosby Show that segued into a three-month stint on the soap opera One Life To Live. Other guest appearances came his way but in 1987, Blair scored big at the age of 23, being cast as attorney Jonathan Rollins in L.A. Law, receiving a Golden Globe nomination in 1991.
While researching the role of an attorney at Harvard Law School, Blair got to know former President Barak Obama while the latter was serving as president of The Harvard Law Review. After L.A. Law ended, Blair starred in a number of movies, including Deep Impact, Gattaca, Just Cause and Set It Off.
More recently, Blair portrayed U.S. President Elias Martinez in the drama series The Event. In 2012, he played the lead role of Stanley in the Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. From 2015 to 2016, he had a recurring role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In January of 2020, Blair appeared back on stage as Captain Richard Davenport in the Broadway revival of A Soldier’s Play.
Away from the bright lights, Blair is a Trustee for the Robey Theatre Company in Los Angeles, a nonprofit founded by Danny Glover that focuses on plays about the Black experience
Susan Dey as Grace van Owen
A young Susan Dey began her professional life as a model, but it was winning the part of Laurie Partridge on the TV series The Partridge Family at age 17 that launched her into teen stardom. With no acting experience, Susan learned the craft from experience on the set from 1970 to 1974, but she suffered from anorexia throughout the shooting of the show.
Her first film role was a passenger in the hijack movie Skyjacked. She went on to other feature and made-for-TV movies, eventually co-starring in the Michael Crichton directed sci-fi film Looker. When she became part of the cast of L.A. Law, Susan starred as L.A. County Deputy District Attorney Grace Van Owen, who later became a judge. She won a Golden Globe for the role in 1988.
“I’ve had women come up to me and say I was the reason they went to law school,” Susan has said. In fact, a 1990 New York Times article reported L.A. Law was responsible for increased applications to law schools, and that attorneys had changed their approach to their attire and the way they talked to juries. Currently, Susan serves as a board member of the Rape Treatment Center at UCLA Medical Center and co-narrated a documentary on campus rape with former L.A. Law co-star Corbin Bernsen.
Catch up with more 80s and 90s TV stars below!