November 27, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST

July 2, 1946-March 15, 2009

When Ron was preparing to play me in Reversal of Fortune, he came up to Harvard, sat in on my classes, came to court, and watched me argue cases. He focused very hard on trying to learn as much as he could about my style. He was a very good lawyer in the film — so good that a death-row inmate wrote and asked him to defend him. When he wrote back and said, ”No, no, I’m just an actor, I play Dershowitz,” the inmate said, ”No, I want you.” He insisted on having input in every aspect of the film. ”No, don’t do it this way,” he would tell the director. ”Who wrote those lines? Come on, we can improve on that.”

Silver died of esophageal cancer in New York City.

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