Michael J. Goodman, a seasoned Los Angeles journalist who wrote riveting profiles on historical figures and in-depth investigations, has died at 76.
Goodman, who had been battling a long illness, died in an Oxnard hospice facility on Thursday.
In a journalism career spanning almost four decades, Goodman covered the Nevada Capitol for the Reno Evening Gazette/Nevada State Journal before becoming an investigative reporter at the Los Angeles Times.
He retired from The Times in 1986. He continued writing for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, where he profiled O.J. Simpson’s lawyer Johnnie Cochran. That 1995 piece found a new audience in 2016 when it began circulating on social media after the TV miniseries “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” aired.
Goodman, whose father worked in a casino, ended up investigating the same people his father did business with. In a nine-part investigation, he wrote about the Chicago mob domination of Las Vegas and Southern California. His former editor, Rick Meyer, said Goodman’s series served as a “model for how to turn an investigation into a good read.”
His story on College Football Hall of Famer Billy Cannon was selected for the Best American Sports Writing in 1996.
Goodman was born in Rochester, N.Y., on Aug. 24, 1942. The family moved from New York to Washington D.C., to Hollywood, Fla. — leaving each time when gambling became illegal — and finally to Las Vegas. He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1970 and a master’s from UCLA in 1971.
In the early 1990s, he joined the Culver City Rock and Mineral Club. His hobby became an obsession. Goodman began hunting and collecting rocks until the house was overflowing with them. He began selling them under the name MG Creations at the Studio City farmers market every Sunday morning.
There, he would run into former Times reporters.
“Reporters who retire usually sell books, but he sold rocks,” said his wife, Meredith Goodman, 65. “It got to be more and more rocks and less and less books.”
The couple would travel the country to hunt rocks.
“Rock hounds don’t usually divulge where they find their rocks,” Meredith Goodman said. “But he was such a good reporter he would pull it out of them.”
Goodman had a stroke in 2012, and his health had been on the decline since.