Arthur Laurents, West Side Story and Gypsy Writer, Dies at 93
Arthur Laurents, the Tony-winning playwright of Broadway's West Side Story and Gypsy, has died. He was 93.
Laurents died Thursday in New York of complications from pneumonia, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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A Brooklyn, N.Y., native, Laurents graduated from Cornell University before enlisting in the Army in 1941. During that time, Laurents worked on military training films and radio scripts for service programs. It was during his research at veterans hospitals that he began writing his first play, Home of the Brave. It opened on Broadway in 1945 and was adapted to a film in 1949.
In the '50s, Laurents began work on a contemporary musical based on Romeo and Juliet, with Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim writing the lyrics. The result was West Side Story, which opened in 1957 as a huge hit. The musical was also adapted into a film that received 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Laurents continued his collaboration with Sondheim and together they created Gypsy (1959), starring Ethel Merman. Both West Side Story and Gypsy were nominated for Tony Awards. Laurents was again nominated for Gypsy revivals in 1975 and 2008. He won Tonys for his 1967 musical Hallelujah, Baby! and for directing La Cage aux Folles in 1984.
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In 1973, Laurents wrote the script for The Way We Were, which starred Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand. In 1977, he wrote and produced The Turning Point, starring Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft. He earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Original Screenplay.
Laurents received the National Board of Review career achievement award for screenwriting in 1999. In 2009, he published his memoir, Mainly on Directing: Gypsy, West Side Story and Other Musicals.
Laurents was with his partner, Tom Hatcher, for 52 years until Hatcher's death in 2006.