Playwright Terrence McNally Dies At 81 Due To COVID-19 Complications

Terrence McNallyTerrence McNally

Complications from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have claimed another life. Famed playwright Terrence McNally passed away on March 20 from the disease at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida. He was 81 years old.

Terrence McNally Passes Away

Known as the ‘bard of the American Theater,’ McNally, born in St. Petersburg, Florida on November 3, 1938, won the Tony Award for Best Play for Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class. He also won the Tony for Best Book of a Musical for Kiss of the Spider-Woman and Ragtime.

A journalism student at Columbia University, McNally wrote for his college’s famed Varsity Show. After graduating with a degree in English, McNally worked as a tutor for the children of novelist John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath). During his travels with Steinbeck’s family, he was able to draft the opening act of his work that became And Things Go Bump in the Night.

Next, McNally moved to Mexico to focus on his plays and other writing. One of his most memorable works was the play Next! in which a middle-aged man, played by James Coco, was mistakenly called for the draft. Throughout the play, Coco’s character does his best to halt the process that results in him enlisting.

Hollywood Calls….But Not For Long

Eventually, McNally moved to Hollywood to reinvent himself but he soon moved back to New York City and became involved with the Manhattan Theatre Club and works involving the AIDS epidemic. The playwright won a Primetime Emmy in 1990 for Best Writing in a Miniseries or Special for Andre’s Mother, which told the story of a mother who was trying to come to terms with her son’s death from AIDS.

In 1994, McNally’s Love! Valour! Compassion! debuted. The work was later turned into a film starring Jason Alexander (Seinfeld). The actor spoke out on McNally’s passing via Twitter.

“We lost a great artist today,” Alexander posted on social media. “I worked for and with Terrence McNally twice in my life and they were two of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. His work was vital, intense, hysterical and rare. My hope is that he will inspire writers for years to come. #RIPTerrenceMcNally.”

McNally was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1996. He teamed up with lyricist/composer David Yazbek in 2000 to write the musical The Full Monty. In 2019, McNally received a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is survived by his husband, Broadway producer Tom Kirdahy. Entertainment Hub sends sincere Condolences to Kirdahy and McNally’s family and friends at this difficult time.

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