Mark Fleischman, a nightclub impresario who purchased the hedonistic New York nightspot Studio 54 from its imprisoned founding owners and was its self-described “ringleader” in the early 1980s, died July 13 in Zurich. He was 82.
The death was confirmed by Dan Fitzgerald, a former business partner, who shared a text message from Fleischman’s wife, Mimi.
Fleischman announced his plans to die by suicide in an interview published last month in the New York Post. He had an undetermined degenerative condition that left him unable to walk or dress himself. He said he had attempted suicide two years ago, with an overdose of Xanax, but was revived at a hospital.
Because there are limits on assisted suicide in California, where Fleischman was living, he and his wife, Mimi, found a Swiss organization, Dignitas, that, after careful screening, assists terminally ill people seeking to end their lives.
“They want to be certain that I am making the decision for myself,” Fleischman told the New York Post. “After reading my material, they asked me some questions to make sure I was serious. I had to provide a notarized affidavit, stating that I want to die. I had to go to a psychiatrist, and he confirmed that I am of sound mind.”
“There is no shame in what I am doing,” he added. “It is proper and reasonable at my age. I have done everything and been everywhere and met everyone I want to meet.”
Early in his career, Fleischman owned and managed hotels in New York, Florida, Virginia, and the Virgin Islands. He was in his late 30s when he joined the party scene at Studio 54, which opened in Manhattan in 1977 and became a prime hangout for celebrities.
The nightclub became notorious for its decadence, sexual encounters, and open use of drugs, particularly cocaine and quaaludes. The nightclub’s two founders, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager became almost as famous as the rock stars, actors, and models who indulged themselves at Studio 54 and danced the night away. The clientele included Elton John, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Liza Minnelli, Elizabeth Taylor, Freddie Mercury, Rod Stewart, John Travolta, Andy Warhol, and cast members of “Saturday Night Live.”