Paul M. Fleiss

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Paul Murray Fleiss (September 8, 1933 – July 19, 2014) was an American pediatrician and author known for his unconventional medical views.[1] Fleiss was a popular and sought-after pediatrician in the Greater Los Angeles area, both among poor and middle-class patients living near his Los Feliz office and among Southern California celebrities.[2] Fleiss was a breastfeeding and anti-circumcision advocate. He recommended but did not insist upon childhood vaccinations, and stated he could be "convinced either way" as to whether HIV causes AIDS.[1] In 1994, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bank fraud in relation to his daughter Heidi's prostitution ring.[3]


Fleiss initially trained as a pharmacist and osteopath.[4] He relocated from Detroit to California to take advantage of 1962 legislation allowing an osteopath to convert his degree to an MD.[2] He earned his B.S. in pharmacy from Wayne State University, his D.O. from the University of California, Irvine, and his M.P.H. from UCLA.

Fleiss was the father of "Hollywood madam" Heidi Fleiss. In 1995, he pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and bank fraud. He helped Heidi launder hundreds of thousands of dollars by lying on her loan application and falsely claiming that she was an employee of his medical practice. He was sentenced to one day in prison, three years probation, 625 hours of community service and a $50,000 fine.[5] Following the felony convictions, the Medical Board of California placed him on probation for 1 year and publicly reprimanded him for "unprofessional conduct" and "dishonesty".[6]

Fleiss was the subject of a 1996 made-for-TV movie entitled The Good Doctor: The Paul Fleiss Story, in which Fleiss (played by Michael Gross) was portrayed sympathetically, as the victim of his daughter Heidi's machinations. The New York Times noted that "the sweeping inaccuracies in 'The Good Doctor: The Paul Fleiss Story' evidently didn't hurt its ratings", and the film was subsequently retitled The Making of a Hollywood Madam, and shown on cable television.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Fleiss was married to Elissa Ash until their divorce.[8] He had four daughters, Heidi, Amy, Shana, and Kim, and two sons, Jesse and Jason, the latter of whom predeceased his father.[8]

Paul Fleiss died July 19, 2014, aged 80, in Los Angeles, from undisclosed causes.[8]

Medical views and opinions[edit]

Fleiss was known for his unconventional medical views.[1] He was a proponent of the "family bed".[9] While he recommended that his patients receive vaccines, he did not insist upon it.[6] He was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as stating that he 'could be "convinced either way" on whether HIV causes AIDS'.[1] Fleiss was a breastfeeding advocate and anti-circumcision activist, or intactivist.[2][6] He was the author or co-author of three books: Sweet Dreams (2001), Your Premature Baby Comes Home with Juliette M. Alsobrooks (2006), and What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Circumcision with Frederick M. Hodges (2003).

Pediatric practice[edit]

Fleiss was described in the Los Angeles Times as "everyone's favorite baby doctor" and having been "one of Southern California's most sought-after physicians" for thirty years.[2] Sometimes described in the media as a "pediatrician to the stars",[10] he counted numerous celebrities or their children among his patients.

In 2005, Fleiss was investigated for his role in the death, from untreated AIDS, of Eliza Jane Scovill, the daughter of AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore, who was HIV-positive.[1] Against standard medical practice, Scovill was never tested for HIV, and Fleiss was investigated by the Medical Board of California for gross negligence in her care as well as in the care of a second child who was also HIV-positive.[6][11]

After receiving over 100 letters of support for Fleiss from patients and parents, the Medical Board reached a settlement in which Fleiss conceded a failure to maintain adequate medical records and agreed to regular review by an outside physician acting as a monitor.[6][12][13]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ornstein, Charles; Daniel Costello (September 24, 2005). "A Mother's Denial, a Daughter's Death". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ a b c d Hubler, Shawn (April 9, 1995). "Did Father Know Best? Paul Fleiss was everyone's favorite baby doctor and the perfect dad of six of his own. So how did he end up facing a federal rap with his daughter Heidi?". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ "Hollywood Madam's Father Pleads Guilty". New York Times. 1995-05-12. Retrieved 2008-09-26.
  4. ^ "Biodata: Paul M. Fleiss". HighBeam Research. 2005-01-01. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24.
  5. ^ "Paul Fleiss Gets Probation for Aiding Heidi". Los Angeles Times. 19 September 1995. Archived from the original on November 28, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e Hall, Carla (2007-10-09). "Hollywood madam's father is placed on probation by state". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-09-26.
  7. ^ "The Good Doctor: The Paul Fleiss Story". New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c Colker, David (July 19, 2014). "Dr. Paul Fleiss Dies at 80; Father of 'Hollywood Madam' Heidi Fleiss". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 20, 2014. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
  9. ^ Frerking, Beth (1993-12-05). "Someone's In Our Bed". Chicago Tribune.
  10. ^ Jacobs, Alexandra (2007-10-30). "To Snip or Not to Snip—That's Shalom's Question". New York Observer.
  11. ^ David T. Thornton (2006-09-13). "Complaint from the Medical Board of California Division of Medical Quality" (PDF). Medical Board of California. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-30. Retrieved 2008-09-26.
  12. ^ Cesar A. Aristeiguieta (September 7, 2007). "Decision of the Medical Board of California" (PDF). Medical Board of California. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 5, 2009. Retrieved 2008-09-26.
  13. ^ Cesar A. Aristeiguieta (September 7, 2007). "Paul M. Fleiss, M.D. Before the Medical Board of California In the Matter of the Accusation Against Paul Fleiss, M.D. Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order" (PDF). Medical Board of California.

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