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Trial version of Chicago 7 on Netflix: Where are the real players now?



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Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman and Rennie Davis face news people during recess in the 1970 Chicago Seven trial.

Bettmann

It reflects the headlines of both the 60s and today, Aaron Sorkin’s new film The lawsuit against Chicago 7 now streams on Netflix with an ensemble of big names including Eddie Redmayne, Michael Keaton and Sacha Baron Cohen. But what happened to the colorful cast of real personalities involved in the infamous trial that focused on both protesters and authorities?

Chicago Seven were Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines and Lee Weiner (counting Black Panther activist Bobby Seale as a defendant, they also became known as Chicago Eight). Faced with police violence at anti-war protests in 1968, five were found guilty of inciting riots and slapped with the harshest possible sentence. All defendants and their lawyers also received harsh sentences for contempt of court, but Judge Julius Hoffman’s decisions were later overturned on appeal.

Trial of the Chicago 7, written and directed by Sorkin, was released on October 16 on Netflix. Here is what the defendants, lawyers, and other notable individuals in the Chicago Seven trial did after the events portrayed in the film.

Rennie Davis

Played in the movie by Alex Sharp

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Chicago Seven and their lawyers. From left Attorneys Leonard Weinglass, Rennie Davis, Abbie Hoffman, Lee Weiner, David Dellinger, John Froines, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and Attorney William Kunstler.

David Fenton / Getty Images

A founder of the activist group Students for a Democratic Society, Davis was found guilty of crossing state borders for the purpose of rebellion. The verdict was overturned on appeal. In the 1970s, he was involved in the religious group Divine Light Mission following the teachings of an Indian guru, before becoming a venture capitalist focusing on socially responsible investments.

He is played in the film by Alex Sharp, the British-born Tony-winning Broadway star who will take a lead role in the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel.

David Dellinger

Played in the movie by John Carroll Lynch

The oldest of the defendants, Dellinger, was a Yale candidate and pacifist who had been imprisoned as a conscientious objector during World War II and protested against separate prisons while there. Over the course of his life, he wrote several books on non-violence. Dellinger died in 2004 at. 88.

John Froines

Played in the movie by Daniel Flaherty

The defendants in Chicago Seven

The defendants in Chicago Seven in a courtroom illustration by Franklin McMahon.

Franklin McMahon / Chicago History Museum / Getty Images

Another Yale student and member of the Students for a Democratic Society, Froines, was accused of using his chemistry know-how to manufacture firebombs. He was one of only two defendants acquitted by the prosecution, although they were still found guilty of contempt for the prosecution. Later professor at UCLA, he served on bodies that worked with California’s air quality for 30 years before retiring due to a conflict of interest.

The actor who plays John Froines is Daniel Flaherty from American TV show Skins and The Americans.

Tom hayden

Played in the movie by Eddie Redmayne

A journalist and activist, Hayden was convicted of conspiracy and inciting charges during the trial. He later served as California state senator, writing more than 20 books and marrying actress and anti-war activist Jane Fonda. Hayden died in October 2016 at the age of 76 and was the first to be buried in a new eco-friendly section of a cemetery in Santa Monica, California.

Abbie Hoffman

Played in the movie by Sacha Baron Cohen

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Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman enter the courtroom wearing legal clothes before throwing them off to reveal police uniforms.

Franklin McMahon / Chicago History Museum / Getty Images

The Bigger Than Life Hoffman made headlines with his appearance in court. He was one of the founders of the Youth International Party “Yippie” movement and a supporter of “Flower Power”, who later jumped on the stage in Woodstock and interrupted The Who’s performance to protest on behalf of the White Panther party.

In 1971, Hoffman published a book about living for free entitled Steal This Book, although he then hid to avoid cocaine charges. In 1986, he was arrested for protesting against the CIA along with the daughter of former President Jimmy Carter, but was acquitted. Hoffman briefly appeared in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July as a man waving a flag during a protest but before the film committed suicide in 1989.

Hoffman is played in the film by Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen. His colorful life also inspired the 2000 film Steal This Movie starring Vincent D’Onofrio as Hoffman, and he was portrayed in Forrest Gump’s anti – war scenes.

Jerry Rubin

Played in the movie by Jeremy Strong

Another founder of the Yippies, Rubin dropped out of UC Berkeley to join the anti-war movement. Named for the 1967 House Un-American Activity Committee hearings, he dressed in an American Revolutionary War uniform and Viet Cong clothing. In Chicago, he and Hoffman continued their courtroom. Rubin later turned to being a businessman and investor, working on Wall Street and becoming a multimillionaire who was one of the first investors in Apple. He died in 1994 at 56 after being hit by a car.

In this movie, Rubin is played Inheritance star Jeremy Strong. Rubin has also been portrayed in other films, including Steal This Movie! and Helter Skelter, who portrays his relationship with Charles Manson.

Bobby Seale

Played in the movie by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

Black activist Bobby Seale

Attorney William M. Kunstler at the black activist Bobby Seale’s birthday party.

John Olson / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images

Texas-born Seale co-founded The Black Panther Party with Huey Newton. He was one of the group of defendants when it became known as Chicago Oight, but he was separated from the trial and jailed for contempt of court. He narrowly missed being elected mayor of Oakland in 1973 and left the Panthers in 1974 after a reported match with Newton.

Since then, he wrote his memoirs and a barbecue cookbook, announced Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and taught black history in Philadelphia. He is played in the movie by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, as recently won an Emmy for Watchmen.

Lee Weiner

Played in the movie by Noah Robbins

Along with Froines, Weiner was acquitted at the trial. He continued as an activist with AmeriCares and the Anti-Defamation League and published his memoir Conspiracy to Riot in 2020.

Other notable figures

Ramsey Clark

Played in the movie by Michael Keaton

Progressive Texas-born lawyer and civil rights activist Clark was Lyndon B. Johnson’s lawyer. He vocally opposed the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, calling for the persecution of George W. Bush. He later defended dictators Radovan Karadzic and Saddam Hussein, criticizing US foreign policy.

Fred Hampton

Played in the movie by Kelvin Harrison Jr.

Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, Hampton mediated peace between street gangs and developed the multicultural Rainbow Coalition, uniting various civil rights organizations. Targeted by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, he was shot dead in his bed by police in December 1969 at. 21. Hampton’s story is told on screen in the upcoming film Judas and the Black Messiah starring Daniel Kaluuya.

Julius Hoffman

Played in the movie by Frank Langella

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Judge Julius Hoffman sees Rennie Davis’ witness in a courtroom illustration.

Franklin McMahon / Chicago History Museum / Getty Images

Fighting Chicago Judge Hoffman clashed with the defendants and their lawyers, removing Bobby Seale from the trial and giving the defendants heavy sentences for contempt of court. He had previously overseen cases, including an indecency case against comedy legend Lenny Bruce (as suggested in The wonderful Mrs. Maisel) and then continued to hear cases until his death in 1983 at the age of 88.

William Kunstler

Played in the movie by: Mark Rylance

Kunstler was a New York lawyer and director of the American Civil Liberties Union who clashed with the judge and prosecutors until he and the defendants were convicted of contempt of court and forced to have their hair cut. A radical lawyer and author, he defended other activists and countercultural fireplaces such as the Freedom Riders, the Revolutionary Communist Party, the Weather Underground, and the Attica Prison rioters.

Artist never disappeared Jack Ruby, several mafia figures including John Gotti, and Yusuf Saalam from Central Park who never pushed anyone away from the limelight. The Doors and a judge in Spike Lee’s film Malcolm X.

John N. Mitchell

Played in the movie by John Doman

Played by The Wire star John Doman, Mitchell was Richard Nixon’s attorney general who pushed to charge anti-war protesters. A commander of patrol boats during World War II, he became a close friend of Nixon and a figurehead in the government’s law-and-order stance. He was later convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury in connection with the Watergate burglary and concealment and served up to 19 months in prison. He died in 1988.

Richard Schultz

Played in the movie by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Prosecutor Schultz was far less sympathetic to the defendant’s case than depicted in the film. He continued to practice law with the firm Foran & Schultz, which was founded by his co-plaintiff in the case, Tom Foran, played in the film by JC MacKenzie.


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