Posted Jun 01, 2009 04:45 pm CDT
A Los Angeles criminal defense attorney and comedian has died, after falling while mountain-climbing alone above the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru.
Kenneth Kahn, who recently retired from the full-time practice of law, was fulfilling a lifelong ambition to travel to South America. He died Wednesday in a hospital ion Cuzco, Peru, of massive internal injuries sustained in the fall, reports the Los Angeles Times. He was 66.
In addition to representing high-profile clients such as musician Ike Turner and Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt (who was being prosecuted for showing up in court wearing the American flag as a diaper), Kahn also had a lighter side. After being stabbed in the chest in a courtroom by a client, he began working a side gig as a stand-up comic in the mid-1990s, and carried a business card that read “Kenny Kahn. World’s Funniest Attorney,” the newspaper writes.
Performing at night “gave me a fresh perspective on my profession, and as bizarre as it sounds, incorporating humor into my legal work made me a better attorney,” Kahn said on his website.
His family background was unusual for one who became so successful in life. As Kahn explains in his 2005 book The Carny Kid: Survival of a Young Thief, he was born to parents who not only made their living from carnivals but were both heroin addicts. A high school teacher, Raymond Lopez, inspired him to focus on his academic talents, and he worked his way through college.
He graduated in 1965 from the University of California’s at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law.