Roberta Garfield Cohn, widow of blacklisted thesp John Garfield and later widow of prominent motion picture/labor attorney Sidney Cohn, died Tuesday in an L.A. nursing home after suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. She was 89.
New York native championed leftist causes and briefly joined the Communist Party. She met Garfield, also a political activist, at a block party in 1932. They married in 1935.
Garfield, Oscar-nommed star of such films as “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “Body and Soul” and “Force of Evil,” was subsequently called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1951; he refused to identify Communists, and the committee turned his testimony over to the FBI for investigation of possible perjury. When the FBI called him in and asked him about his wife’s involvement in the Communist Party, he reportedly responded with profanity and left. He never worked in films again and died of a heart attack in 1952 at 39.
Embittered and angry by the studios, whom she believed used her husband as a scapegoat, she nonetheless married showbiz lawyer Cohn in 1954; he died in 1991.
She is survived by her daughter Julie from her marriage with Garfield, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.