Biography

An award-winning playwright, screenwriter and travel writer, Joel Schwartz was born in New Jersey in 1945. He attended Harvard College where he earned a degree in Far Eastern Languages and Literatures in 1966. While at Harvard, he directed a dozen of his own plays. After graduation, Joel received a Shubert Fellowship during which he wrote Tilt (formerly untilted), later produced at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

He headed west to San Francisco in 1970 to write and direct while living at the communal Firehouse Theater. He would often escape three hours north to the Mendocino Coast, hoping to eventually return to live out his retirement.

Joel moved to Santa Monica in 1972, where he became an early advocate for long-term services for street kids in Hollywood, also helping to craft the federal “Runaway and Homeless Youth Act” along with Safe Choices, an HIV care/prevention manual for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He was cofounder and the first Executive Director of Los Angeles Youth Network. He worked with the homeless populations for the next 30 years.

Joel fulfilled his retirement dream in 2005. From his desk in the sunroom office, which looked out over his gardens and beyond deep into the redwood forest, Joel pursued his passion for writing, reading and community service. He became a Master Gardener in 2010 and could be found weekly on Fridays dispensing gardening tips at the Mendocino Farmers’ Market.

Joel died suddenly on May 15, 2014 at the age of 69. He and his husband Jim were blessed to have 25 years of life adventures together.