LEE PERMUT, R.I.P.
I had an awful shock recently when I learned that the eternal Lee Permut, father of my friends David, Paula, and Arthur, had passed away. I knew he was up there in age, but, at ninety-four, he was still going strong.
I had lost touch with Lee and his wife, Pearl, for several recent years, but when I answered the phone last New Year’s Eve, and heard his familiar New York voice say, “This is your boyfriend,” I knew right away who it was! We spent awhile laughing about old times, and I instantly missed him all over again. David and I planned all year for him to take me to see his parents, (because they live sort-of far away from me,), and then, as always, life got uber-busy for both of us. So now, very sadly, my chance to see Lee again is over, but I want to share some memories of him with you.
Rarely are young people very involved with their friends’ families. Heck, they often aren’t even involved with their own! But in my twenties and thirties, I saw David Permut’s parents more than I saw my mother and father, who were three thousand miles away. I spent many week-ends with Lee and Pearl at their Palm Springs home, and used to sleep over a lot at their LA abode during the week.
Whenever I was in Palm Springs with David, (which was quite often,) Lee always took us to dinner and then to a dance club. I never saw a father who was so interested in showing his kids a good time! And all the while he was happy to be a father figure to their friends, and not trying to be one of us. There was nothing “creepy older man” about him. He was just a wonderful fun-loving character.
Lee Permut was one of the most popular men I’ve ever met, and not just with us kids. I had never seen a man have so many guy friends; he was sought-after in so many circles including tennis, business, and show business.
A couple of my funniest memories involve Lee getting Mr. X and me involved in two contests in the desert. He roped Mr. X into judging the Miss Desert Hot Springs pageant one year. I still don’t understand how he did it; Mr. X hates stuff like that, but he just could not say no to Lee. And then he talked me into hosting some Mr. Body Builder contest in in that area, as well. That one was a really crazy event, even for me! But it made the Permuts laugh, so I was happy to do it for them.
Lee loved telling the story of when I “worked” for David, when he was starting his movie company. The “office” was in his gorgeous Beverly Hills condo, and the only perk of my job was that it was on the same level as the building’s pool! As Lee told it, whenever the phone would ring, I’d run back into the apartment, clutching my opened bikini top, to answer it. I didn’t even realize how amusing that image was until the first time I heard Lee tell it.
I’m now missing that unique man, and my heart goes out to his loved ones.
RIP, Lee Permut.