Famed Playwright Laurents Dies

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May 6, 2011 | 4:15am EST

Legendary playwright Arthur Laurents, the man behind West Side Story and Gypsy, has passed away at the age of 93.
The celebrated director and writer died from complications of pneumonia at his home in New York City on Thursday.

His rep, Jonathan Lomma, says, “He died earlier this evening, peacefully in his sleep, at his home in New York City, after a short illness.”

After training as a radio writer, Laurents’ career was interrupted when he was drafted into the U.S. army to fight in World War II. He ended up penning training films and plays for the military.

His first play, Home of the Brave, was inspired by the army, and opened in Broadway in 1945 to lacklustre reviews. He went on to write The Bird Cage before creating the books for musical masterpieces West Side Story and Gypsy.

He helped make Barbra Streisand a star and worked with the actress/singer again when he scripted her 1973 hit The Way We Were.

Laurents won Tony Awards for his book Hallelujah, Baby! and as a director for the 1984 production of La Cage aux Folles.

Openly gay, he lived with his partner Tom Hatcher for 50 years until his death in 2006.