Mart Crowleybest known for writing the '60s seminal play The Boys in the Band, about a group of gay friends at a birthday partydied March 8 at age 84, media reports stated.
Writer Michael Musto broke the news, tweeting, " RIP, Mart Crowley, author of the groundbreaking gay play The Boys in the Band. He was Natalie Wood's assistant and told me she encouraged him to write the play."
The Boys in the Band, Crowley's first play, opened off-Broadway in 1968. He wrote the screenplay and produced the film version, which Academy Award winner William Friedkin ( The Exorcist ) directed.
According to Broadway World, among Crowley's other plays were A Breeze from the Gulf ( 1973 ) and The Men from the Boys ( 2002 ), a sequel to The Boys in the Band. He was also the producer/co-writer of the ABC TV series Hart to Hart for several years.
Locally, The Boys in the Band is currently running at the Windy City Playhouse through April 19. Carl Menningerassociate artistic director of Windy City Playhouse and director of the productionsent a statement to Windy City Times saying, "We are truly saddened by the passing of Mart Crowley. While none of us knew him personally, we feel we have a relationship with this tremendously gifted writer through his work. The Boys in the Band is an honest profile of the lives of many urban gay men in the 1960s. Not only is it a landmark play in the LGBTQ+ cannon but it is also an important American play. Writing and bringing it to the stage was an act of bravery during an era when even Time Magazine wrote that 'Homosexuality is a pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality, a pitiable flight from life.'
"Along with other brave people, Crowley helped pave the way for the LGBTQ+ movement. We are proud to present his work as an historic depiction of gay life in the 1960s. The play still invites people to reflect on the LGBTQ+ issues that we still struggle with as a society. The Boys in the Band has stood the test of time and that is the true sign of a gifted author. The best way to celebrate any playwrights legacy is to present their work. We consider it a privilege to share his play with our audiences."