O.J. Simpson dead; the center of the Trial of the Century was 76

O.J. Simpson, the former football legend turned actor turned accused murderer had cancer.

O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson, one of the most controversial figures of our time, is dead. His family broke the news on X, writing, “On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace.”

If you grew up in the 1990s, you likely remember where you were on June 17th during the infamous Bronco Chase, where Simpson became the subject of perhaps the lowest-speed police chase of all time. I was twelve years old and riveted. Even now, twenty years after the fact, the O.J. Simpson trial, which was dubbed by media as the “Trial of the Century,” is infamous, as in the belief of many, O.J. Simpson, a former football legend turned movie star, got away with murder. 

The trial was a hotbed of controversy, and it inspired two fascinating, long-form deep dives on TV. One was American Crime Story: The People Vs O.J. Simpson, and the other was an incredible documentary called O.J: Made in America. The latter really said it all in terms of O.J.’s place in pop culture at the time of the trial and why it was such a boiling point for many, with the documentary giving excellent context to the verdict and fallout. 

Before the trial, O.J. Simpson was an aspirational figure to many. Winner of the Heisman Trophy and an NFL player for eleven seasons, he parlayed his sports fame into a lucrative acting career, which included roles in the cult classic Capricorn One (check out our Best Movie You Never Saw on it) and the Naked Gun trilogy. The third film in the series, The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, came out just a few months before Simpson was arrested for the murder of his former wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend Ron Goldman. 

The trial went on for eleven months and dominated the news cycle the whole time. Eventually, Simpson was acquitted in a highly controversial verdict, but three years later, he was found liable in a civil suit brought by the victim’s families and ordered to pay $33.5 million. Simpson later went to jail for nine years after being convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping. Since his release, he mostly laid low but was interviewed by Sacha Baron Cohen’s Gio Monaldo character on Who is America and was a frequent tweeter on X.

Indeed, O.J. Simpson’s death will no doubt inspire mixed feelings in many of our readers, so feel free to post your thoughts below. Did you watch the Bronco Chase or the verdict live? Share your memories with us. 

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.