Willie Garson’s life was celebrated Saturday afternoon out an outdoor ceremony at LA’s Skirball Center in a grand style attended by hundreds of people at a memorial/fundraiser. Garson’s recent death on September 21, 2021 at 57, of pancreatic cancer, is a source of sadness for so many. Friends who attended told us that “there were friends from every part of his life from childhood on. He had the gift of making everyone feel special.”
The most special person in his life was his son Nathen Garson, who did not speak but sat in the front row. Willie adopted him at the age of 8 in 2010 as a single parent, and a clip was shown of his adoption at LA’s city Hall. Said one attendee, “Everyone was sobbing. Willie had a big life, but the part he loved the most was his son, and that’s where he found himself.”
The memorial started with friends talking about his one man show he worked on in his younger days in NYC “Willie Garson Sings.” Which then prompted Matt Bomer, Steven Weber, Nia Vardalos Jason Alexander who were all in the audience and had microphones to start singing two of the songs Willie sang in the show, “If They Could See Me Now” and “I Made It Through The Rain’ while Broadway’s Seth Rudetsky played the piano. That was followed by a gospel choir and New Orleans marching band; Willie played the tuba and loved New Orleans.
David Zazlav the President and CEO of Discovery spoke, he was a close friend of Willie’s who was active in the charities “You Gotta Believe” a group to help find loving parents for older children in foster care, and “Second Nurture” to help parents who want to adopt these older children. David will continue Willie’s work in both. The crowd was reminded that Willie “made friends and kept them on every job he had, which he had over 300 imdb credits.”
Willie’s good friend, Elvis Costello, said that “we met in the VIP room of some concert and became fast friends.” Elvis then explained that while Willie was sick, Elvis found a signed Sammy Davis picture with his famed black horned rimmed specs, the kind that Willie and Elvis always wore, he gave it to Willie who loved it. He then sang “What Kind Of Fool Am I” one of Sammy’s classics. A friend noted that it was so wrenching to say farewell to him. “He was so brave in his death and took care of every detail. Sadly saying goodbye to this incredible guy who died way too young.”