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


Jerry Rubin, Abby Hoffman and Rennie Davis face reporters during a break in the Chicago Seven trial in 1970.


Featuring the headlines of both the 60’s and today, Aaron Sorkin’s new film Court in Chicago 7 now broadcasts on Netflix an ensemble of famous names, including Eddie Redmain, Michael Keaton and Sasha Baron Cohen. But what happened to the colorful lineup of real people involved in the infamous lawsuit that drew the attention of protesters and the authorities?

The “Chicago Seven” were Abby Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froyns and Lee Weiner (counting Black Panther activist Bobby Seal as the accused, they were also known as the “Chicago Eight”). At a meeting with police violence during anti-war protests in 1968, five were found guilty of inciting riots and slapped with the harshest possible sentence. All defendants and their lawyers were also severely punished for contempt of court, but Judge Julius Hoffman’s decisions were later overturned on appeal.

The court version of “Chicago-7”, which Sorkin wrote and directed, was released on October 16 on Netflix. This is what the defendants, lawyers and other prominent figures in the Chicago Seven trial did after the events depicted in the film.

Rennie Davis

Starring in the film Alex Sharp


The Chicago Seven and their lawyers. Left: Attorney Leonard Weinglass, Rennie Davis, Abby Hoffman, Lee Weiner, David Dellinger, John Froyns, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, and attorney William Kunstler.

David Fenton / Getty Images

Davis, the founder of the Students for a Democratic Society activist group, was found guilty of crossing state borders with the intent to riot. The sentence was overturned on appeal. In the 1970s, he joined the Divine Light religious group, following the teachings of an Indian guru, before becoming a venture capitalist focused on socially responsible investment.

He starred in a British-born film by Alex Sharpe, a Tony Broadway star who will star in the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel.

David Dellinger

Starring in the John Carroll Lynch film

The oldest of the defendants, Dellinger, was a graduate of Yale University and a pacifist who was imprisoned as a conscientious objector during World War II, protesting against individual prisons while in prison. During his life he wrote several books on nonviolence. Dellinger died in 2004 at the age of 88.

John Froyns

Starring in a film by Daniel Flaherty

Defendants of the

Accused in the Chicago Seven Court in an illustration of Franklin McMahon’s trial.

Franklin McMahon / Chicago Historical Museum / Getty Images

Another Yale University student and a member of the Students for a Democratic Society, Fraines, has been accused of using his chemical know-how to make incendiary devices. He was one of only two defendants acquitted of incitement, although they were still found guilty of contempt of court. Later a professor at UCLA, he worked for 30 years in air quality authorities in California and then resigned due to a conflict of interest.

The actor who played John Freins is Daniel Flaherty from the American TV shows “Skins” and “Americans”

Tom Hayden

Starring in the movie Eddie Redman

Journalist and activist Hayden was convicted of conspiracy and incitement in court. He later served as a California senator, wrote more than 20 books, and married actress and antiwar activist Jane Fonda. Hayden died in October 2016 at the age of 76 and was the first to be buried in the new ecological district of Santa Monica Cemetery, California.

Abby Hoffman

Starring in the film Sasha Baron Cohen


Jerry Rubin and Abby Hoffman enter the courtroom in court robes before dropping them off to reveal their police uniforms.

Franklin McMahon / Museum of Chicago History / Getty Images

Hoffman, who was going through life, appeared in the headlines thanks to a speech in court. He was the founder of the international youth party Ippi and a supporter of the Flower Force, which later jumped on stage in Woodstock and interrupted The Who’s performance, protesting on behalf of the White Panther party.

In 1971, Hoffman published a book on free life called “Steal This Book,” although he later 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 film “Born on the Fourth of July” as a man waving a flag in protest, but before the film committed suicide in 1989.

Hoffman was played in the film by Borat star Sasha Baron Cohen. His colorful life also inspired the biographical film Steal This 2000, in which Vincent D’Onofrio played Hoffmann and was portrayed in the anti-war protest scenes of Forrest Gump.

Jerry Rubin

Played in the director’s film Jeremy Strong

Another founder of Ippi, Rubin dropped out of the University of Berkeley to join the anti-war movement. In 1967, he was summoned to a hearing of the UN Committee on Non-American Activities, dressed in the uniform of the American War of Independence and the dress of Vietnam. In Chicago, he and Hoffman continued their antics in the courtroom. Rubin later became a businessman and investor, worked on Wall Street and became a multimillionaire, who was one of the first investors in Apple. He died in 1994 at the age of 56 after being hit by a car.

In this film, Rubin performs Inheritance star Jeremy Strong. Ruby has also been featured in other movies, including “Steal This Movie”! and Helter Skelter, depicting his relationship with Charles Manson.

Bobby Seal

Starred in the film Yahya Abdul-Matin II

Black activist Bobby Seal

Attorney William M. Kunstler on the birthday of black activist Bobby Seal.

John Olson / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images

The Texas-born Syl was a co-founder of the Black Panther Party with Huey Newton. He was one of a group of defendants when it was known as the Chicago Eight, but he was separated from the trial and imprisoned for contempt of court. He barely missed the opportunity to be elected mayor of Auckland in 1973 and left the Panthers in 1974 after reporting a fight with Newton.

Since then, he has written his memoirs and cookbook for barbecue, promoted Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and taught Black history in Philadelphia. He starred in the recent film Yahya Abdul-Matin II won an Emmy for the Guardians.

Lee Weiner

Starring in the movie Noah Robbins

Together with Freyn, Weiner was acquitted at trial. He continued to work as an activist for AmeriCares and the League Against Defamation and published his memoir “Conspiracy to Revolt” in 2020.

Other notable figures

Ramsey Clark

Played in the movie Michael Keaton

A progressive lawyer and civil rights defender born in Texas, Clark was Attorney General Lyndon B. Johnson. He spoke out against the wars in Vietnam and Iraq and called for the impeachment of George W. Bush. He later defended dictators Radovan Karadzic and Saddam Hussein and criticized US foreign policy.

Fred Hampton

Starring in a Kelvin Harrison Jr. movie

The head of the Black Panther party in Illinois, Hampton, broke the peace between street gangs and formed a multicultural coalition “Rainbow”, which unites various civil rights organizations. Edgar Hoover and the FBI shot him in his bed in December 1969, at 9 p.m. Hampton’s story will be told on screen in the upcoming film “Judas and the Black Messiah”, starring Daniel Kaluuya.

Julius Hoffman

Played in the movie Frank Langella


Judge Julius Hoffman watches Rennie Davis testify in the courtroom.

Franklin McMahon / Museum of Chicago History / Getty Images

Martial Judge Chicago Hoffman confronted the defendants and their attorneys, removing Bobby Seal from trial and harshly punishing the defendants for contempt of court. He previously oversaw the proceedings, including a case of obscenity against comedy legend Lenny Bruce (as hinted at in Wonderful Mrs. Meisel) and then continued to hear cases until his death in 1983 at the age of 88.

William Kunstler

The film starred: Mark Rylance

Kunstler was a New York lawyer and director of the American Civil Liberties Union who faced a judge and prosecutors until he was convicted along with defendants of contempt of court and forced to cut his hair. A radical lawyer and author, he defended other activists and countercultural fire signs, such as the Freedom Riders, the Revolutionary Communist Party, the Weather, and the Attica Prison.

Never escaping attention, Kunstler also defended Jack Ruby, several mafia figures, including John Gotti and Yusuf Saalam of Central Park 5. He died in 1995 at the age of 76, but not before playing a lawyer in Oliver Stone’s rock biography Doors and judge in the film Spike Lee Malcolm X.

John N. Mitchell

Starring in the film John Doman

Mitchell, played by The Wire star John Doman, was Richard Nixon’s attorney general, who demanded accusations against protesters against the war. Commander of a patrol boat during World War II, he became a close friend of Nixon and a figure in the government’s law enforcement position. He was later convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and false testimony related to the beating and hiding of Watergate, and spent 19 months in prison. He died in 1988.

Richard Schultz

Starring in a film by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Prosecution lawyer Schultz was much less sympathetic to the defendant’s case than depicted in the film. He continued to practice law at Foran & Schultz, founded by his fellow prosecutor Tom Foran in the J. K. Mackenzie film.

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