Edward Albee’s early popular one-acts plays, including The Zoo Story (1959), established him as a critic of American values. He is most noted for his first full-length play Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1962), a Tony Award-winning production which also became a 1966 film directed by Mike Nichols starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Albee received Pulitzer Prizes for A Delicate Balance (1966), Seascape (1972) and Three Tall Women (1994), among many other awards and honors. Albee was one of the most innovative playwrights of his generation, whose raw, unnerving, funny plays scraped at the veneer of American success and happiness.
Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? was denied the Pulitzer Prize in 1963, when the 14-member advisory board split over the play. Some were shocked by the frank, abusive language and ignored the Pulitzer jury’s enthusiastic recommendation. No award was given, and two jurors, respected drama critics and theater historians, resigned in protest.
In the 1950s, he became friends and lovers with fellow writers, painters and musicians including playwright William Inge and composers David Diamond, Aaron Copland and William Flanagan, who became his boyfriend in the 1950s. Albee said he knew he was gay by the time he was 8-years-old. After his relationship with Flanagan, he had a romance with fellow playwright Terrence McNally in the 1960s. In 1970, he began a 35-year relationship with sculptor Jonathan Thomas. Thomas was taken by cancer in 2005.
“All of my plays are about people missing the boat, closing down too young, coming to the end of their lives with regret at things not done, as opposed to things done. I find most people spend too much time living as if they’re never going to die.”
Albee left this world on September 16, 2016 at 88-years-old.