Actress hosts memorial service for vanished husband

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Jewish comedian Sheri Glaser's husband, Greg Howells, disappeared little more than a month ago. Now Glaser is ready to acknowledge his departure from her life — with a memorial service.

The service will be "a get-together with friends and family to remember him with laughter," Glaser explained from her Comptche home Friday of last week.

Though Howells could be dead, no one really knows what happened to him after he disappeared from a Carmel Valley golf course June 17. The couple and their two children had been staying in the area for the Carmel Valley run of Glaser's play "Diosa! Oh My Goddess."

Howells, who co-wrote with Glaser many of her Jewish-themed plays, left behind his clubs and golf cart at the 13th tee and his tan Honda in the parking lot. The contents of his wallet were strewn beneath the driver's seat. His oft-rejected manuscript "Lazarus" lay on the front passenger seat.

Police have no theories on the vanishing act. They've declared it an unsolved case. The Glaser family psychic says he's still alive. And though she has her moments of despair, the actress chuckles to herself about the drama of it all.

"This is full of great humor," she said. "Just the way he lived his life and exited — it's very funny at times."

In fact, disappearing was one of Howells' specialties, Glaser recalled. At family functions, he would slip out of the room when no one was looking. He often failed to show up for scheduled appointments. His unpredictablity had become predictable.

Glaser had hoped he would as suddenly reappear for the scheduled promotional taping of a video about "Lazarus" on Tuesday of last week that would be sent to agents. She flew to Los Angeles to direct in his absence, but he never showed. They rolled the video anyway.

Glaser says she has no plans to promote the play, but may do so in her spare time.

Howells had been equally ambivalent about his work in the months leading up to his disappearance. While his wife received rave reviews for the plays the couple wrote together, producers and publishers repeatedly passed on Howells' independent work, including "Lazarus."

The playwright had been depressed in recent months, his wife said. He put on 40 pounds and grew a heavy beard and mustache. The marriage went through a period of ups and downs.

"I live with this genius who is so tortured and unrecognized. [It] could be part of this equation — not getting attention," Glaser said. "Now, certainly, [he is] getting a lot of attention."

Lori Eppstein

Lori Eppstein is a former staff writer.