American Playwright Wendy Wasserstein Dies, 55Date: 30 January 2006
American playwright Wendy Wasserstein died this morning (Monday 30 January 2006) at the age of 55, following a battle with cancer.
Her best known plays were the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles (1988) and The Sisters Rosensweig (1992). The former had a London run at Greenwich Theatre in 1988 while the latter was staged at the West Endís Old Vic in 1994. More recently, her work featured alongside other American playwrights in a season at the Barbican entitled Inventing America in 1998 (See News, 19 Dec 1997).
Wasserstein was the youngest of four children, born to Jewish parents Morris and Lola Wasserstein on 18 October 1950. She grew up in Brooklyn and Manhattan. She was educated at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and then went to Yale University, where she started her theatre career after meeting other budding playwrights.
Her writing is known for its sharp observations about what women have to do to succeed in a world dominated by men. Wasserstein was first noticed with her one-act drama Uncommon Women and Others, written as a Yale School of Drama graduate thesis. The play was expanded and performed Off-Broadway in 1977 starring Glenn Close, and filmed for television a year later with Meryl Streep replacing Close.
Wassersteinís other plays included Isnít It Romantic?, Workout, Waiting for Philip Glass, When Dinah Shore Ruled the World, Tender Offer, Boy Meets Gorl, An American Daughter, Old Money and her latest work, Third, which recently opened Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi E Newhouse Theater.
While primarily a playwright, Wasserstein also wrote for TV and films, most notably the screenplay for the 1998 film version of Stephen McCauley's novel, The Object of My Affection. She was the author of the best-selling children's book, Pamela's First Musical, which she adapted with David Zippel and the late Cy Coleman into a musical. Wasserstein also wrote two collections of personal essays, Bachelor Girls, published in 1990, and Shiksa Goddess: Or, How I Spent My Forties, published in 2001.
She is survived by her seven-year-old daughter, Lucy Jane.
American theatrical producer and owner Ted Tulchin also recently passed away. With his brother Norman, he at various times co-owned the West Endís Playhouse, Savoy Theatres and Old Vic Theatres. Tulchin, who was born in Manhattan in 1926, was also involved in producing many successful shows in the West End, including recent productions of The Old Masters, Whose Life Is It Anyway? Hitchcock Blonde, Vincent in Brixton, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Guys and Dolls and As You Desire Me. He died of heart failure in New York aged 79 on 18 December 2005.
- by Caroline Ansdell