Sleepy Lagoon case was largely forgotten for thirty-five years until
Luis Valdez's play Zoot Suit opened in 1978. Drawing in
part from collections in the UCLA Library such as the Sleepy Lagoon
Defense Committee Records, Alice Greenfield McGrath papers and Carey
McWilliams papers, Valdez created a dramatic and musical interpretation
of the events surrounding the trial, developing the play's characters
and their personal struggles within the social and political climate
of the time. (Alice McGrath inspired one of those characters, Alice
Carey McWilliams recalls introducing Valdez to Alice McGrath:
McWilliams: .Luis Valdez came to see me in New
York, as I said, and wanted to talk about the case. We spent an
evening talking about it. I put him in touch, as I said to you,
with Alice (he didn't know about Alice) and also with Ben Margolis.
And I was very much impressed with him as a person, and from what
I've heard of the play it has some good material in it.
Gardner: Did you know his work before?
No, I don't think I did.
Gardner: Surely there was a piece in the Nation
on El Teatro Campesino at some point.
McWilliams: It may well have been. If so, I've
forgotten about it. But this was the first time I'd met him.
Gardner: You haven't seen the play, have you?
McWilliams: No, I haven't seen the play.
Are you going to get to see a rehearsal while you're here?
McWilliams: Yes. I hope to get to see a rehearsal;
I'd like to.
Honorable in all things oral history transcript: the memoirs
of Carey McWilliams. UCLA oral history, 1978.