UPDATE: Walt DeFaria was seriously injured after being hit by a car on Dec. 31, a couple of days after this interview was conducted. He is in stable condition at Natividad hospital, where he was treated in the trauma center and doctors predict a four- to six-week stay. He is now undergoing rehabilitation and his move up to Washington state has been postponed indefinitely.
Walt DeFaria, 95, has been involved with the local theatre for over 25 years since he relocated here from Los Angeles. This Sacramento-born actor, director, producer and writer has been visiting Carmel since he was a high-schooler and cultivated a life-long dream to live in Carmel. After the dream came true, he became known as a director of "major family musicals," as he describes his specialty, in Forest Theatre in Carmel (titles like "Peter Pan," "Beauty and The Beast").
"It's a wonderful place for writers and artists," he says on his last week in the area, as the pandemic and the chance to be closer to his daughter has compelled him to move up to Washington state. "And especially local theater talent. So many youngsters worked with us. Not all of them became actors. Many became lawyers, but they had this wonderful experience."
The last big musical DeFaria did was "Hello Dolly" in 2019, which was the last show in the Forest Theater, DeFaria remembers one time—"Beauty and The Beast"—when 10,000 people showed up in a tiny forest theater in Carmel.
He also remembers the following story, which, while it doesn't relate to the Monterey County it related to Monterey County's John Steinbeck. Shortly before the writer's death, in about 1968, DeFaria had a pleasure to play in a TV series based on Steinbeck's Travels with Charley: In Search of America, which is essentially a story of travels with a dog. The show was hosted by Henry Fonda. DeFaria went to see Steinbeck and his wife and they said they loved the dog that has been used in the show (the dog reminded the writer about the original Charley, his own dog). DeFaria jumped on the suggestion of getting the dog to the Steinbecks, but when he went to the kennel where it was being kept, it turned out the dog—who had become famous because of the show—had been stolen.
DeFaria says he has been involved in some form of theater since he was 7 years old. While he started as a newsman, tried retail and for years wrote a column for The Armed Forces Press Service, he is mostly a man of the arts. At the age of 95, DeFaria seems to be done with show business, but then again—he was "done with show business," he says, when he arrived in Carmel 25 years ago, and spent all of them fostering local theater.