Stephen Scharf, Veteran Dealmaker at O'Melveny & Myers, Dies at 68

Power Lawers 2012

Stephen Scharf, a veteran Hollywood lawyer at O'Melveny & Myers who specialized in motion picture production, finance and distribution, has died. He was 68.

Scharf died Sept. 27 at his home in Sherman Oaks after a battle with pancreatic cancer, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. He spent four decades at the entertainment mega-firm and was a partner.

“Stephen was a beloved member of the O’Melveny community," firm chair Brad Butwin said in a statement to THR. "Not only was he widely regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on entertainment finance, he was also one of the firm’s true leaders and mentors. It is no exaggeration to say that he helped shape O’Melveny into the firm we are today.”

Scharf served as co-chair of O'Melveny's entertainment, sports and media practice and was one of the early leaders of cross-Pacific partnerships. He was featured several times on The Hollywood Reporter's annual Power Lawyers list for his work representing clients including Imax, Legendary Entertainment and StudioCanal.

"Stephen steered us through times of transition and great success, always putting aside his own personal interests for those of his colleagues and the firm," O'Melveny noted on an in-memoriam page for Scharf on its website. "More than that, Stephen was a great man. He was a fatherly figure to those who practiced with him. In the Century City office, he was known affectionately as 'The Professor.'"

Scharf was born in Albany, New York, and graduated from Stanford Law School in 1975 after earning his bachelor's degree in political science from Colgate University.

He had planned on retiring soon and spending much of his time at the family's vineyard in California's Sonoma County. The Scharfs launched Cardinal Rule wines in 2013 with Winston & Strawn partner Warren Loui and Susan Akens, executive director for UCLA’s Ziffren Center for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law.

Survivors include his wife and two adult daughters. A private memorial service was held on Oct. 21. Those wishing to make a gift in Scharf's honor can donate to the Weingart Center.