Radical radio station KPFK host Lila Garrett, 94, passes
Lila Garrett

LOS ANGELES—It is with a heavy heart that I share the passing on Feb. 1 of one of my best friends, KPFK host and Emmy-award winning writer Lila Garrett, always a pistol, yet married to the peace movement and forever committed to progressive values.

I said my goodbyes to Lila a little over a week ago, when I stopped by her apartment at the Motion Picture Home in Tarzana, California, gathered round her bed with her dear daughter Eliza Roberts and Lila’s talented son-in-law Eric Roberts, also her gourmet granddaughter Morgan, and others, to promise Lila we were going to kick Trump to the curb. Any talk of politics always perked her up and you could tell, by the way she raised her head, that she was all in for Trump’s ouster.

That night Lila squeezed my hand and held on tight for many minutes before her eyes closed with weariness, a long haul it had been this last year, in and out of the hospital and rehab, but still managing now and then to host her Connect the Dots show on Pacifica’s KPFK. It must have been a month or so ago that she interviewed me about why Bernie Sanders and his movement campaign were electrifying the grassroots.

A few months ago, I updated Lila’s Wikipedia page. “Make sure you insert how I end my radio show,” she insisted, and so I did: “The arms industry has neither allies nor enemies, only customers.”

I first met Lila at a pool hall—sounds funny, doesn’t it?—but that’s where we hosted post-Kerry v. Bush debate parties during the 2004 presidential race. Lila, together with Bill Rosendahl, later a Los Angeles City Council member, would sit on the pool table in the Santa Monica bar (not exactly her comfort zone, given her penchant for designer furniture), critiquing the politicians’ performances, always favoring the Democrat.

From the personal to the political, Lila rooted for the underdog, for the neighbor in the wheelchair—whose “family never visited. Can you believe that?”—to the child dragged by his mother at a too rapid clip across a crosswalk. Lila’s mind was sharp, sharp like razor, and could cut to the truth of any situation, no fooling her.

I feel fortunate to have been close to Lila, to have benefited from her insights and wisdom, to have shared so many laughs and bagels together (“You haven’t eaten. You must eat, eat, eat….”) and to embrace the memory of our day in the park in Coldwater Canyon, when we sat on the bench, old friends, bookends, admiring the trees and the children playing.

I raise my cup of love to one of the dearest friends I’ve ever had. Love to you, Lila, in heaven.

* * *

KPFK put together a fascinating video featuring Lila Garrett talking about her life, which is definitely worth watching. Click here to view it.

Born in Brooklyn in 1925, Garrett was a writer of comedy. She began writing questions for game shows when she first came to Hollywood and then wrote for the sitcoms, including The Second Hundred Years, My Favorite Martian, All in the Family, and Bewitched. She also co-wrote, with Joseph L. McEveety, Bernie Kahn and Stu Billett, the 1971 Disney TV movie The Barefoot Executive.

Garrett won two Emmys for 90-Minute Comedies, Mother of the Bride and The Girl Who Couldn’t Lose. The movie The Way We Were, starring Barbara Streisand, was reportedly written about Lila Garrett.

She did not consider herself a “woman writer” or “woman director.” She was just a writer/director/commentator and she was a feminist.

She did not believe in war, any war, and if you watch the numerous comedies she wrote, produced, directed and acted in, you’ll find her message layered throughout. She did believe in peace, justice and equality—and the use of humor, keen observation and reportage of humanity to get people there.

Garrett was president of the Los Angeles Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action, founded by Eleanor Roosevelt, for many productive years. She was a founding member of Progressive Democrats of America.

Garrett was also a frequent contributor to the online magazine LA Progressive. She was not “still working” at ninety-four: She was just working. She was a great convener, activating people from far and wide to work for peace and justice. Most recently her passion was for electing Bernie Sanders. She was always kind enough to host allow any number of progressive meetings in her home.

She believed that “Right after your kids, your most important love must be your work.”

She remained in command of her life until the end, feeling healthy enough to demand to be sent home as recently as the day before she passed away! This was not the change she’d hoped for in 2020.

Fellow KPFK radio host Suzi Weissman said, “Lila was Socialist Party royalty, literally growing up in the movement, and she only got more and more committed as the years went by. She was sharp, funny, incisive and sometimes caustic.”

Peace activist and author Frank Dorrel said, “Lila, you were such a great anti-war activist. Your program Connect the Dots was one of the most important shows on KPFK. You spoke the truth and had such great guests on week after week.”

CONDOLENCES  may be left on Lila Garrett’s email address or Facebook page; her family will be able to access them in both places. The Facebook page is:  CONNECT THE DOTS W LILA GARRETT.

Condolences can also be sent by U.S. mail to: Family of Lila Garrett, ℅ TripleEE Productions, 20750 Ventura Blvd., Suite 342, Woodland Hills, CA 91364.

The date for her memorial service had not yet been set at press time.

Posted by permission. Additional content supplied by People’s World.


Marcy Winograd
Marcy Winograd

Marcy Winograd is a political activist who co-founded the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party and blogs at LA Progressive.