Three-time Pulitzer Prize -winning gay playwright Edward Albee, whose masterworks was Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? died today.
His assistant Jackob Holder said he died at his home in Montauk. No cause of death was given. Given the deaths of Arthur Miller and August Wilson in 2005, he was arguably America’s greatest living playwright. Years ago, before undergoing surgery, Albee penned a note to be issued at the time of his death:
“To all of you who have made my being alive so wonderful, so exciting and so full, my thanks and all my love.”
Albee was proclaimed the playwright of his generation after his blistering Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opened on Broadway in 1962. The Tony-winning play, still widely considered Albee’s finest, was made into an award-winning 1966 film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
His unconventional style won him great acclaim but also led to a nearly 20-year drought of critical and commercial recognition before his 1994 play, Three Tall Women, garnered his third Pulitzer Prize. His other Pulitzers were for A Delicate Balance (1967) and Seascape (1975).
Albee was born in 1928 and was adopted by a wealthy suburban New York couple. His father, Reed Albee, ran the Keith-Albee chain of vaudeville theaters; his mother, Frances Albee, was a socialite and a commanding presence who kept a hold on him for much of his life.
Albee was honored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1996 for his lifetime contributions. Then-President Bill Clinton praised Albee as a man who inspired a generation of American dramatists. Clinton also awarded Albee a National Medal of the Arts that year.
Into his 70s, Albee continued to write provocative and unconventional plays. In The Goat or Who is Sylvia? the main character falls in love with a goat. Albee said in 2001,
“I don’t like the idea of getting older and older because there’s meant to be a time when that has to stop. Dying strikes me as being a great waste of time.”
Albee’s longtime companion, sculptor Jonathan Thomas, died in 2005. Albee told The New York Times in 2007. “
“I couldn’t write for a long time. The mourning never ends; it just changes. But then I got back into a feeling of usefulness.”
Edward Albee was 88.
(via USA Today)