The Craziest Moments and Quotes From 'O.J.: Made in America'

RTR1JD62
They did not fit like a glove. The key moment in a trial that lasted 267 days. Sam Mircovich

If you have yet to watch ESPN's five-part documentary on O.J. Simpson, O.J.: Made in America, you may wish to save this post for later. For those who have wholly or partially devoured director Ezra Edelman's effort, which is currently available on demand from ESPN and clocks in at approximately eight hours, we've quantified the film below to a certain extent. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, another "American tragedy" (the last words spoken in the film), Made in America is ostensibly about one man's rise and fall, but its scope is actually more sweeping. "We act as if the story is O.J.," journalist Celia Farber says in Part 5. "The story is O.J. and us."

Here are 59 insane moments from the film:

1. The opening scene. O.J. Simpson sits before a parole board at Lovelock Correctional Facility in Nevada in 2013. He is charming and affable as he relates his current duties at the prison. Then, a female on the board asks, “You were arrested for the first time at the age of 46?” Anger and disbelief replaces the mild veneer as Simpson asks, incredulously, “We talking about this?”

2. The juxtaposition of scenes of unrest and chaos in 1968 (the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the black-power protest at the Mexico City Olympics, the Chicago riots) with O.J.’s bland television appearance with Bob Hope. “A few yards?” says Hope in response to Simpson’s modest summary of his Heisman Trophy–winning campaign. “You’ve gobbled up more real estate than Howard Hughes.”

3. The Robert Lipsyte anecdote. O.J., during a night out with the New York Times columnist at the start of his NFL career, relates how he once heard a woman say, “Look at those niggers sitting with O.J.” Lipsyte offers a few words of sympathy, but Simpson brushes him off. “Don’t you understand?” he says. “She knew I wasn’t black. She saw me as O.J.” Lipsyte, relating this story for the film, says, “And at that moment, I thought, He is fucked.”

4. The revelation that Marguerite Simpson, O.J.’s first wife, was his best friend Al “A.C.” Cowlings’s girl back in San Francisco. Not only did O.J. steal her away from Cowlings, but his much larger friend never bore a grudge. “He stole his best friend’s girl,” their mutual friend, Joe Bell, says, incredulous.

RTXZL54 O.J. Simpson at his evidentiary hearing in 2013. POOL new

5. The Juice as magnanimous teammate. After breaking Jim Brown’s single-season rushing record and surpassing 2,000 yards in one season in the Buffalo Bills’ last game against the New York Jets, Simpson appears live on ABC under the condition that his entire offense appear with him. Juice then introduces them, one by one. Later, he buys all of them gold wristbands that read, “We Did It, 3,088,” denoting the number of yards not that he gained but that the entire offense gained.

6. The major reveal in Part 1: O.J. Simpson’s father was gay. A childhood friend of O.J.’s, Calvin Tennyson, shares a tale about the two of them taking a bus to visit O.J.’s father so that O.J. could pick up some items. The elder Simpson opened the door wearing a bathrobe and behind him, farther back in the apartment, stood a second man wearing a bathrobe. Years later, O.J. will beat Nicole for allowing a homosexual man to kiss their infant son.

7. The first-date-with-Nicole story. Only moments after being introduced to 18-year-old Nicole Brown, then a waitress at a Beverly Hills hot spot called the Daisy, a still-married O.J. informs the club’s owner, Jack Hanson, “I’m going to marry that girl.” After their first date, Nicole returns home with her jeans ripped. Her friend, Dave LeBon, asks her what happened. “Dave, don’t be upset,” she says. “I think I really like this guy.”

8. The Roy Firestone interview after O.J.’s New Year’s Day, 1989, domestic abuse incident. “This is how things can get distorted to such a point that you are perceived as a bad buy,” says Firestone on his ESPN interview program. “It got to such a point that you were portrayed in the press as a wife-beater.”

9. After Nicole left their Rockingham Avenue home the first time and moved into the home on Gretna Green Way, O.J. stalked her relentlessly. Through a window, he spied on Nicole and her boyfriend, Keith Zlomsowitch, having sex in her bungalow.

10. The Marcus Allen intrigue. Like O.J., Allen starred at tailback at USC, won the Heisman Trophy and moved on to a Hall of Fame NFL career. Then he moved on to Nicole and was reportedly seeing her in the weeks immediately preceding her murder. “I think she always festered a crush for Marcus,” Nicole’s friend Robin Greer says, adding with a mischievous smile, “He was almost like the new, bigger, better version [of O.J.]”

11. Al Cowlings. In the same week, he spoke at Nicole Brown’s memorial and assisted O.J. when he decided to flee instead of turning himself into the Los Angeles Police Department. When Cowlings and Simpson were students at Galileo High School in San Francisco, a friend pulled a track starter’s pistol on O.J. as a prank. Cowlings stepped in front of Simpson and said, “Ray, if you’re going to shoot O.J., you gotta shoot me first.”

12. SWAT team commander Peter Weireter playing on O.J.’s vulnerability to persuade him to exit the Bronco. “We can appeal to his ego enough that he’s going to come out for us,” Weireter said, noting that appeals to Simpson to think of his children went nowhere. “The more that we spoke about him, the more he liked it.”

13. Ron Shipp breaks ranks. The LAPD officer, an African-American who had known Simpson for 20 years, receives a phone call from the O.J. legal defense team days after the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman to testify as a defense witness. “O.J. killed her,” he tells them. “I’m not on board.” He will later tell the court that O.J. confided to him, “To be truthful, I have had dreams of killing her.”

14. Staging the Rockingham estate for the jurors. Defense counsel Carl Douglas freely admits that O.J.’s legal team took down numerous photos of O.J. with his white friends and replaced them with photos of O.J. and African-Americans inside his home. They even took a Norman Rockwell print of a young African-American girl from Johnnie Cochran’s office and set it at the top of a stairway. “If we had had a Latin jury, we would have had a picture of him in a sombrero!” Douglas boasts. “There would have been a mariachi band out front! We would have had a piñata at the top of the staircase!”

15. Mike Gilbert’s reveal about why the bloody glove found at the crime scene did not fit when O.J. put it on in court. “I told O.J., ‘If you’re worried about the glove fitting or not fitting, just don’t take your arthritis medicine for two weeks.” Simpson complained that he would be in terrible pain, and then Gilbert reminded him that his hands would be swollen. Did it work out that way?, Gilbert is asked. “Well, he couldn’t bend his hands. You tell me.”

RTXG98R Police were called to the Simpson home on nine occasions due to domestic disputes in the years before Nicole Brown Simpson's murder. STR new

16. Peter Hyams’s aha moment. The film director, who had worked with Simpson on Capricorn One and remained a staunch ally and defender, realized that Simpson might be guilty when a friend asked, “What would Mark Fuhrman have had to know before he planted the glove [at Rockingham]? He would have had to know that [O.J.] had no alibi. He was in no woman’s bed, he was in no restaurant, he was on no airplane. So how could Mark Fuhrman place that glove if he didn’t know that?” If another person could have vouched for Simpson’s whereabouts, Fuhrman would have been exposing himself to a felony charge for planting evidence.

RTR467D O.J. Simpson, Nicole Brown Simpson and their two children, three months before her murder. Fred Prouser

17. Assistant prosecutor Bill Hodgman clinically and meticulously presents his scenario of how the murders took place as a montage of gruesome crime-scene photos of Nicole Brown’s and Ronald Goldman’s bodies appear. Hodgman describes how O.J. stabbed Nicole in the neck four times, then hid in the bushes and put the knife to Goldman’s throat from behind. He tauntingly poked Goldman in the right cheek five times with the blade, then slashed at Goldman in “the killing cage” as he tried to escape. After a gash severed Goldman’s abdominal artery (“You’ve got about a minute to live,” Hodgman says), Simpson returned to Nicole and slit her throat, “in the process severing just about everything in her neck, and putting a quarter-inch nick in her C3 vertebra.” He then returned to Goldman to stab him in the neck four times. The deep gashes in the necks of both victims are shown (Brown is nearly decapitated) as Hodgman uses the word “overkill” to describe the carnage.

18. Juror No. 2, Yolanda Crawford, is told by a voice off-camera that the trial encompassed “267 days, 1,105 pieces of evidence and 13 witnesses. How the hell did you deliberate for three and a half hours?” Crawford asks the interviewer to repeat the number of days the trial lasted, which he does. She then answers, “Two hundred sixty-six nights.”

19. The roar of the crowd lining the street outside the courtroom when the not-guilty verdict is announced on October 3, 1995, is so raucous that it frightens the police horses. Meanwhile, the released jurors high-five one another, and a few of them reportedly say, “That was payback for Rodney King.” A community activist, Danny Bakewell, says, “Now you know how it feels.”

20. Gilbert reveals a conversation he and O.J. had one night while sitting by O.J.’s pool, drinking Rolling Rock beers. O.J. asks Gilbert if he thinks he did it, and Gilbert says, “I have always thought you probably did it.” O.J. replies, “If she wouldn’t have opened the door with a knife, she’d still be alive.”

21. O.J. meets Pablo Fenjves, his ghostwriter for If I Did It, a hypothetical confessional book project. Fenjves recounts that O.J. confides that if he had done it, he couldn’t have done it alone. Also, O.J. traces the route of his drive back from Brown’s house on South Bundy Drive to his home after the murder, matter-of-factly using the past tense as if recalling an actual incident. Then, noticing the shocked look on Fenjves’s face, O.J. adds, “That’s the way I would have gone, if I had done it.”

22. The “Marx Brothers” robbery. A detailed account of the kidnapping and armed robbery in a Las Vegas hotel room that resulted in Simpson being sentenced to 33 years in prison reveals that this was about as far removed from Ocean’s 11 as possible. The personal items Simpson was hunting for were actually hundreds of miles away in a storage unit in California, and an accomplice, Tom Riccio, tape-recorded the entire incident, then went to the district attorney in exchange for immunity. “Who did I rat on?” the dyed-blond Riccio asks with bemusement. “Not that I have anything on ratting.… Maybe I did rat on some people.… All right, so I’m a rat.”

RTXFV87 Left to right: Johnnie Cochran, Carl Douglas and O.J. Simpson at trial in 1995. STR new

23. The fifth quarter. In finding poetic justice—if not outright justice—in O.J.’s ultimate legal demise, Carl Douglas compares his Las Vegas trial to a postgame high school brawl. He notes that the judge kept the jury in deliberations until 11 o'clock on a Friday night 13 years to the day after Simpson’s acquittal on murder charges, “and that in my mind was not a coincidence.… That in fact was the fifth quarter.” Or as one of the victims in the armed robbery, sports memorabilia dealer Bruce Fromong, put it, “It wasn’t about justice. They wanted the guy who got away with murder in 1994.”

Mind-Blowing Quotes

24. “His response was, ‘I’m not black; I’m O.J.’” —Harry Edwards, on what Simpson said when he tried to recruit him to join other popular black athletes to protest racial inequality

25. “He’s African, but he’s a good-looking man. He almost has white features.” —Fred Levinson, the director of O.J.’s Hertz commercials in the 1970s

26. “He was the guy of the '70s. Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali, O.J. Simpson. And O.J. was the most popular of all of them. I didn’t see them running through airports.” —Former Buffalo Bills teammate Joe DeLamielleure

27. “I don’t have a garage full of reports. I have one report. One. That was the O.J. Simpson report, because I thought that case might be mishandled and I thought he was gonna kill her.” —LAPD officer John Edwards, who quoted Nicole Brown (“He’s going to kill me”) in his report after responding to a call from her on January 1, 1989

28. “We’ll go to Brentwood, Westwood…Whitewood, all that.” —Unidentified African-American youth riding in the back of a pickup truck on the first day of the Rodney King rioting

29. “Don’t ever be left alone with him. You don’t know what he’s capable of.” —Keith Zlomsowitch, Nicole’s Brown’s former boyfriend, relating what she told him about her estranged husband

30. “He was truly the most jealous person I ever met in my life. He was as jealous as he was a good football player.” —Former O.J. friend Thomas McCollum III

31. "I absolutely believe that [Nicole] was [seeing Marcus Allen]. O.J. told Nicole, 'You ever see Marcus again, I will kill you.'" —Nicole’s friend Robin Greer

32. “If O.J. Simpson were black, that shit wouldn’t have happened.” —Former WCBS helicopter pilot Zoey Tur, referencing the bizarre police escort of the white Bronco up the 405 freeway to Simpson’s home

33. “What are all these niggers doing in Brentwood?” —O.J. Simpson, after his arrest, while being driven from his home to LAPD headquarters

34. “We’d love to have him on after the show’s over—after the trial’s over.” —Larry King, speaking to reporters about Judge Lance Ito during the murder trial

35. "'What’s the forbidden "N-word" they keep talking about, Mommy?' She said, 'Nicole.'" —Marcia Clark, reading a cartoon in court for the record

36. “Guys, if this jury convicts me, maybe I did do it.” —O.J. Simpson, referencing a jury that was mostly made up of minorities, to his defense team

37. “Not only did we play the race card, we dealt it from the bottom of the deck.” —Robert Shapiro, hours after the not-guilty verdict, to ABC’s Barbara Walters on national television

38. “Oh, so now you’re black.” —Former agent and friend Mike Gilbert, when O.J. insists they dine at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles for the first time, after his acquittal

39. “I’ve seen O.J. talk himself out of a lot of situations.” —Al Cowlings, during Simpson’s civil trial

40. “I believed that for the longest time, and then I—he went there to kill her. He went there to kill her because of how she made him feel. Then, of course, the Marcus [Allen] factor.” —Mike Gilbert

41. “That show ain’t gonna last two weeks.” —O.J., hours before his armed robbery, watching his goddaughter Kim Kardashian promoting her new show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, on television in a Las Vegas hotel room

42. “That was at most a two-year crime dripping wet.” —Carl Douglas, discussing Simpson’s draconian 33-year sentence for kidnapping and armed robbery


RTXFBBM June 17, 1994: The white-Bronco chase was actually more of a police escort. Sam Mircovich

10 Best Interview Subjects (Ranked)

10. Mike Albanese, former LAPD SWAT

He looked to be at least in his late 60s, but with those piercing blue eyes and that clean-shaven dome, the erstwhile SWAT team member still appeared ready to pounce. You can imagine the gruff retired cop having a poster of NYPD Blue’s Andy Sipowicz on his wall. “Dining,” Albanese spits out with contempt, describing Simpson’s family enjoying platters of sandwiches in his home during the Bronco chase. “I use the clinical term: nutty.”

9. Robin Greer, friend of Nicole

Blond, attractive, affluent and utterly Brentwood, the middle-aged Greer represents the circle in which O.J. and Nicole traveled. "There was something about [Nicole] that was almost unattainable to [O.J.]," Greer says, "something that he couldn’t quite control, and I think that was part of the attraction, and I think in the final analysis that’s what got her killed.”

8. Carrie Bess, Juror No. 9

The elderly African-American woman hand-gestured her way through some of the most withering quotes in the film while making no secret of whose side she took. “Lemme tell you something, I lose respect for a woman who take an ass-whuppin’ when she don’t have to,” Bess says when asked why the prosecution’s portrayal of O.J. as a wife-beater failed to register. “Don’t stay in the water if it’s over your head. You’ll drown.”

7. Marcia Clark, lead prosecutor

Even though Clark looks almost like a completely different person some 20 years later (was Sarah Paulson not available to play this role too?), she has not lost an ounce of the feisty bulldog within. “Marcia Clark,” she says, recalling how she tested in front of mock juries before the trial. “Every black woman: bitch.”

6. Zoey Tur, former KCBS helicopter pilot

A former news-copter jockey now in the process of gender-reassignment procedures, Tur is refreshingly honest and animated. She admits feeling conflicted about the gravity of the murders while realizing, at the time, that she had a once-in-a-lifetime exclusive during the infamous “chase” involving the white Bronco. “Fuck NBC. Fuck ABC. Fuck those guys. I hope they shoot that son of a bitch, and I hope they kill him before the competitors get here.”

5. Ron Shipp, USC walk-on, former LAPD

From sneaking into the Coliseum to watch the epic 1967 rivalry game between USC and UCLA to testifying against Simpson at the murder trial, Shipp had a front-row seat to watch his hero become a monster.

4. Jeffrey Toobin, attorney, media analyst and author, The Run of His Life

The sensible one. Toobin, long a fixture on CNN, is the audience, trying to balance the decades of racial injustice in Los Angeles at the hands—and batons—of the LAPD against what appears to be insurmountable evidence stacked against Simpson. “‘If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’ was a cute line,” Toobin says, “but the heart of the [defense] summation is, Whose side are you on?”

3. Joe Bell, childhood friend

A sweet and conflicted man, Bell is unflinchingly candid about Simpson’s denial of his roots while choosing to this day to believe in his innocence. If Al Cowlings was O.J.’s enabler, Bell is his conscience. “I told [O.J.], ‘Man, you’re breaking the laws of God and nobody does it with immunity. You’re gonna pay for it, man.’”

2. Mike Gilbert, former agent

No one is more penitent before the camera than Gilbert, who revealed the most private of both conversations and machinations with Simpson. He called Shipp a “Judas” for testifying against his client, but when a voice off-camera asked if Shipp had told the truth, Gilbert bowed his head and replied, “Yup.”

1. Carl Douglas, defense counsel

Theatrical, hysterical and insightful, Douglas was the breakout star of O.J.: Made in America. No one else came close. Even Johnnie Cochran in his prime was never this entertaining. His “fifth quarter” analogy near the end of Part 5 tied a neat bow on the entire story, while he dispensed bon mots with a flourish throughout. On fellow defense counsel Robert Shapiro: “He was not known as a trial dog with two g’s.”

Also receiving votes: Tom Riccio, Frank Olson, Danny Bakewell, Celia Farber, Peter Hyams, Michael McClinton, Detective Tom Lange, Sylvester Monroe, Robert Lipsyte, Fred Goldman, Walter Mosley and Mark Fuhrman.


RTX8X5E Mike Gilbert, O.J. Simpson's former agent, testifying at Simpson's armed robbery and kidnapping trial. POOL new

A Nearly Complete List of Cameos in O.J.: Made in America (in Alphabetical Order)

Bea Arthur, Lucille Ball, Gary Beban, Milton Berle, Tom Brokaw, James Brolin, Mel Brooks, James Caan, Howard Cosell, Katie Couric, Eric Dickerson, Marty Feldman, Roy Firestone, George Foreman, Leeza Gibbons, J. Edgar Hoover, Bob Hope, Kim Kardashian, Larry King, Ted Koppel, Matt Lauer, David Letterman, Lyle Menendez, Joe Namath, Leslie Nielsen, Richard Nixon, Arnold Palmer, Walter Payton, Sidney Poitier, Roman Polanski, Priscilla Presley, Ahmad Rashad, Dan Rather, Robin Roberts, Pete Rozelle, Diane Sawyer, Ricky Schroder, Ronnie Spector, Sharon Tate, Donald Trump, Barbara Walters, Brian Williams and Flip Wilson.

RTXGH0N A slain Nicole Brown Simpson lies at the foot of the stairs of her home on South Bundy Drive. Ho New

6 Most Prominent Absentee Interviews (Ranked)

6. O.J. Simpson: Director Ezra Edelman said that he wrote the Juice a letter in an effort to open a dialogue, but never received a reply. He might have given it more effort, but an O.J. interview may have overwhelmed the narrative. The documentary was richer without his jail-cell interview.

5. Marguerite Simpson: The first Mrs. Simpson wed O.J. before he even arrived at USC and remained married to him until 1979, the year he retired. A private person, she attended the murder trial and sat next to her children, but never gave an interview during it.

4. Don Ohlmeyer: One of the most formidable sports executives of the past half century, Ohlmeyer was close friends with Simpson and NBC’s West Coast president at the time of the murders and trial. He publicly proclaimed his belief in Simpson’s innocence and even threw a party for the jurors after the acquittal. Ohlmeyer is nowhere to be seen in Edelman’s five-part documentary and is never mentioned.

3. Chris Darden: The biggest loser in the Simpson trial, to an even greater degree than Mark Fuhrman. He became a pariah in the African-American community and his most memorable gambit—having O.J. try on the gloves in front of the jury—was a spectacular failure.

2. Al Cowlings: O.J.’s lifetime confidant, the brother he never had and a man who was blinded by loyalty, to a criminal degree.

1. Marcus Allen: The former Heisman Trophy–winning tailback at USC and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player was allegedly having an affair with Nicole, which he denied under oath at the civil trial, in the weeks leading up to her murder.

Editor's Pick