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 Alice <I>Greenfield</I> McGrath

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Alice Greenfield McGrath

Birth
Calgary, Calgary Census Division, Alberta, Canada
Death
27 Nov 2009 (aged 92)
Ventura, Ventura County, California, USA
Burial
Ventura, Ventura County, California, USA
Memorial ID
70425652 View Source

American Activist. Alice McGrath gained fame in connection with the infamous 1942 case of the "Sleepy Lagoon Murder" which was the largest mass trial in California history. She assisted attorney George Shibley in his defense of 22 Mexican American youths, aged 17-21, who were accused of killing a Mexican farmworker. The case became a cause celebre and was a precursor to the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943. Although most of the defendants were initially convicted and sent to San Quentin; in 1944 in People v Zamora, the Court of Appeal overturned the convictions, finding insufficient evidence and improper courtroom conduct by the judge. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1981, Alice McGrath stated that the Sleepy Lagoon appeal was "the most important event in my life. If I had never done anything since.....my involvement in Sleepy Lagoon would justify my existence." The motion picture "Zoot Suit" (1981) had a character named Alice Broomfield (played by Tyne Daly) who was based on Alice McGrath. Luis Valdez who wrote "Zoot Suit" described Alice McGrath as "one of the heroines of the 20th Century." She was profiled in Studs Turkel's book "Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century and Those Who Lived It." She was married 3 times. Her second marriage was to poet Thomas McGrath.

American Activist. Alice McGrath gained fame in connection with the infamous 1942 case of the "Sleepy Lagoon Murder" which was the largest mass trial in California history. She assisted attorney George Shibley in his defense of 22 Mexican American youths, aged 17-21, who were accused of killing a Mexican farmworker. The case became a cause celebre and was a precursor to the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943. Although most of the defendants were initially convicted and sent to San Quentin; in 1944 in People v Zamora, the Court of Appeal overturned the convictions, finding insufficient evidence and improper courtroom conduct by the judge. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1981, Alice McGrath stated that the Sleepy Lagoon appeal was "the most important event in my life. If I had never done anything since.....my involvement in Sleepy Lagoon would justify my existence." The motion picture "Zoot Suit" (1981) had a character named Alice Broomfield (played by Tyne Daly) who was based on Alice McGrath. Luis Valdez who wrote "Zoot Suit" described Alice McGrath as "one of the heroines of the 20th Century." She was profiled in Studs Turkel's book "Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century and Those Who Lived It." She was married 3 times. Her second marriage was to poet Thomas McGrath.


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