After that, Kevorkian reportedly opposed Humphry's approach, saying assisted suicides should be done in a medical setting.
"People are aware of euthanasia because of him," he said. "But I think he ruined it in the eyes of the medical profession."
"I credit him and criticize him," said Humphry. "The American public and the media gave him so much attention. He had lot of ego. He was not a team player at all."
But Kevorkian's lawyer said the HBO movie will reveal that the public face of Dr. Death "is not him at all."
"Jack is a very private guy," said Morganroth. "He never charged anyone for his services, he lives off very little and he was never interested in dollars. He's somewhat of a loner."
The enigmatic doctor has been parodied in numerous television and movie scripts: In an episode of the "Simpsons," a depressed grandpa considers the "diepod."
In the pilot of "Grey's Anatomy," Meredith says, "If I hadn't taken the Hippocratic oath, I would Kevorkian her with my bare hands."
But both friends and enemies can see why powerhouse actor Al Pacino might relish the role of Dr. Death.
"He reminds me of John Brown, who invaded Harper's Ferry in the Civil War," said bioethicist Caplan. "He was completely nuts. He inspired attention to slavery and abolition, but he was completely wacky."