LAURENTS--Arthur, died May 5, 2011 after a brief illness in his home in Manhattan. He was 93 years old. Born in Flatbush, Brooklyn on July 14, 1917, he graduated from Cornell University and was a resident of Greenwich Village, New York and Quogue, Long Island. He spent 52 extraordinary years with Tom Hatcher, his beloved companion, who died in 2006. A giant both on Broadway and in films, Laurents had written countless plays, musicals and screenplays. Among his Broadway credits are the books for the musicals "West Side Story," "Gypsy," "Anyone Can Whistle," "Do I Hear A Waltz?" and "Hallelujah, Baby!" He directed the original Broadway production of "La Cage Aux Folles" in 1983 and enormously successful revivals of "Gypsy" (three times) and "West Side Story." A partial list of his plays includes "Home of the Brave" (his 1945 Broadway debut), "The Time of the Cuckoo," "A Clearing In The Woods," "Invitation To A March," and "Jolson Sings Again." Highlights of his screenwriting career include "Rope," "The Turning Point," "Anastasia" and "The Way We Were." He received three Tony Awards (all for Best Direction of a Musical) for his work on Broadway as well as five Academy Award nominations. In 2000, Laurents published an acclaimed autobiography, "Original Story By Arthur Laurents: A Memoir of Broadway and Hollywood," and in 2009 republished Mainly On Directing: "Gypsy," "West Side Story" and Other Musicals. He will be remembered not only as having one of the most extraordinary careers in contemporary history, but for his fierce beliefs and fierce personal convictions. In 2010, he created the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award to be given annually to a deserving young playwright. He is survived by a niece and nephew. Donations may be made to The Laurents/Hatcher Foundation 608 Northville Turnpike, Riverhead, New York 11901.
Published in The New York Times on May 7, 2011