Sunday, December 23, 2012

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight was a Tony Award-winning playwright, director and screenwriter. Today's Out Spotlight is Arthur Levine."

Born Arthur Levine on July 14, 1917, Laurents grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Because of anti-Semitism, he changed his last name to the less Jewish-sounding Laurents.

After graduating from Cornell University, Laurents took a class in radio writing and produced “Now Playing Tomorrow,” a comedic fantasy broadcast on CBS Radio. He was drafted into the Army in World War II, but never saw combat. He wrote training films and dramatized radio shows for the Armed Forces.

Laurents started his Broadway career with “Home of the Brave” (1945), which was adapted into a film. He moved to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting. He adapted the play “Rope’s End” into a movie, but his Hollywood career was cut short when he was blacklisted for Communist sympathies. Subsequently, he returned to New York City and resumed writing for theater and film.

Laurents wrote 12 plays and musicals, including “The Bird Cage” (1950), “The Time of the Cuckoo” (1952) and “A Clearing in the Woods” (1957). He wrote screenplays for “Anastasia” (1956), “The Way We Were” (1973) and “The Turning Point” (1977).

His scripts for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy” earned Tony nominations for Best Musical. In 1968, the Tony for Best Musical went to “Hallelujah, Baby!,” for which Laurents wrote the script. In 1984, he won a Tony for Best Direction of a Musical for “La Cage Aux Folles.”

Laurents wrote Original Story By Arthur Laurents: A Memoir of Broadway and Hollywood. In it, he discusses his lengthy career and his many gay affairs and long-term relationships, including those with Farley Granger and Tom Hatcher. Hatcher was an aspiring actor whom Gore Vidal suggested Laurents seek out at the Beverly Hills men's clothing store Hatcher was managing at the time. The couple remained together for 52 years until Hatcher's death on October 26, 2006.

Laurents wrote Mainly on Directing: Gypsy, West Side Story and Other Musicals, published in 2009, in which he discussed musicals he directed and the work of other directors he admired.

His latest memoir was published posthumously, titled, "The Rest of the Story." It was released in Sept. of 2012 and available wherever books are sold.

 In 2010, the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award was established. It annually awards a $150,000 enabling grant to an unproduced play of social relevance.

 Laurents died at the age of 93 at his home in Manhattan on May 5, 2011 of pneumonia complications.   Following a long tradition, Broadway theatre lights were dimmed at 8 p.m. on May 6, 2011, for one minute in his memory.


the real m said...

Wow, 52 years. That's quite a relationship. And what a career. The out spotlights are so informative. Thanks Special for another good one.

Special K said...

I wanted to do a Spotlight with a Broadway connection for Jake's last performance (yesterday).

I wonder if he's shaved off his beard this morning.