Lela Swift dies at 96; TV director/producer worked with young James Dean


Lela Swift, an early-day TV director who worked with a young James Dean and went on to work on the long-running daytime soap opera “Ryan’s Hope,” has died. She was 96.

Swift rose from the secretarial pool at CBS in the 1940s to become a steady TV producer, despite predictions from others at the studio that her work behind the camera would probably be confined to cooking shows.

As a director or producer she worked on “Studio One,” “Suspense” and “The Web,” including an episode in which Dean was cast as a bellhop who solves a murder at an exclusive resort. She later spent years working on the gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows” and the long-running “Ryan’s Hope.”


Born Lillian Siwoff on Feb. 1, 1919, in New York City, she went to work for CBS at a time when it was undergoing a rapid expansion. She died Aug. 4, according to Starz Entertainment.

Swift, whose husband, Gilbert Schwartz, died earlier this year, is survived by two sons, Stuart Schwartz and Russell Schwartz; five grandchildren; and a brother, Seymour Siwoff.