Elizabeth Swados passes away at 64

The Tony Award-nominated writer and composer, and co-director and subject of the HBO animated doc short My Depression: The Up and Down and Up of It, died on Tuesday.
January 6, 2016

Tony Award-nominated writer and composer Elizabeth Swados, writer and co-director of the recent HBO animated doc short My Depression: The Up and Down and Up of It, has passed away at the age of 64.

Swados died on Tuesday, January 5, from complications following an April surgical procedure for esophageal cancer, her wife Roz Lichter confirmed to The New York Times.

Perhaps best known for such Broadway and Off-Broadway theater productions as 1978′s Runaways and 1992′s Groundhog, the Manhattan-based Swados was also an author whose 2005 graphic memoir My Depression: A Picture Book laid the groundwork for last July’s HBO project, which was nominated for best documentary short at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.

The half-hour film followed Swados in animated form as she recounted her history with depression, as well as her efforts to more fully understand and treat her condition. The HBO short featured the voices of several prominent actors who had worked with Swados in the past, including Sigourney Weaver, who voiced Swados’ character.

“The fact that you can deal with a subject that is very serious but you can do it in a funny way at the same time, and being able to juxtapose these emotions and facts with silliness is great for animation,” Swados told realscreen in an interview conducted prior to the short’s television debut.

“My feeling is that I share the subject with so many people, that it’s not really mine,” she added. “So many people are going through it and so many people have gone through it, that even though it’s very specific and very personal, ultimately it’s a very shared experience.”

(With files from Manori Ravindran)

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.