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A.R. Gurney (1930 - 2017)

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A.R. Gurney (1930 - 2017)

A.R. Gurney, a playwright known best for the plays “Love Letters” and “The Cocktail Hour,” died Tuesday, June 13, 2017, according to multiple news sources. He was 86.

His agent, Jonathan Lomma, confirmed the death to The New York Times but did not give a cause.

The Buffalo, New York, native often wrote about growing up in his hometown’s upper-class culture. His plays were praised for their witty observations regarding the decline of the upper-class White Anglo-Saxon Protestant group in the United States.

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Gurney, who was born Nov. 1, 1930, was the son of a real estate and insurance magnate. He attended the private Nichols School in Buffalo and graduated from St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire. He went to Williams College and then the Yale School of Drama. He became a professor of literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He wrote plays while teaching at MIT including “The Middle Ages,” but it was not until his 1981 play, “The Dining Room,” that he became a success. He made his Broadway debut in 1987 with his play “Sweet Sue.”

In 1988, he had two successful plays produced: “The Cocktail Hour,” which was based on his upbringing in Buffalo, and “Love Letters.” Gurney was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama for “Love Letters.” The play opened on Broadway in 1989 starring Jason Robards and Coleen Dewhurst.

Throughout his life, Gurney retained close ties to his hometown.

“Buffalo was the heart of my life,” he told the Buffalo News in 1987.

His most recent play was “Family Furniture,” which was produced in 2015. He also penned four novels.

Gurney is survived by his wife, the former Molly Goodyear, and four children.

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