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Larry Kramer

Larry Kramer

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: June 25, 1935 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA Profession: screenwriter, producer, assistant producer, story editor, author, AIDS activist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Larry Kramer was an author, screenwriter, award-winning playwright, and passionate AIDS activist, whose work often dealt with issues relating to the LGBT community. Although he began his career as a Hollywood screenwriter, having earned an Oscar nomination for penning 1969's "Women in Love," by the late '70s Kramer started injecting his work with more personal themes and ideas. Having known he was homosexual since childhood, Kramer began devoting his life and work to drawing attention to the burgeoning AIDS crisis beginning with his highly-acclaimed 1985 play "The Normal Heart." Kramer followed the success of "The Normal Heart" with "Just Say No, A Play About a Farce" and "The Destiny of Me," both of which tackled similar themes. In 2014 Kramer adapted "The Normal Heart" to an HBO movie, directed by Ryan Murphy and starring Mark Ruffalo, Jim Parsons and Taylor Kitsch. Although it had been nearly 30 years since "The Normal Heart" first debuted on a New York stage, his gripping adaptation proved to be just as powerful, thus signaling that Larry Kramer was still one of the country's most influential writers of LGBT themes. Born into a well-educated family in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1935, Kramer knew...

Larry Kramer was an author, screenwriter, award-winning playwright, and passionate AIDS activist, whose work often dealt with issues relating to the LGBT community. Although he began his career as a Hollywood screenwriter, having earned an Oscar nomination for penning 1969's "Women in Love," by the late '70s Kramer started injecting his work with more personal themes and ideas. Having known he was homosexual since childhood, Kramer began devoting his life and work to drawing attention to the burgeoning AIDS crisis beginning with his highly-acclaimed 1985 play "The Normal Heart." Kramer followed the success of "The Normal Heart" with "Just Say No, A Play About a Farce" and "The Destiny of Me," both of which tackled similar themes. In 2014 Kramer adapted "The Normal Heart" to an HBO movie, directed by Ryan Murphy and starring Mark Ruffalo, Jim Parsons and Taylor Kitsch. Although it had been nearly 30 years since "The Normal Heart" first debuted on a New York stage, his gripping adaptation proved to be just as powerful, thus signaling that Larry Kramer was still one of the country's most influential writers of LGBT themes.

Born into a well-educated family in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1935, Kramer knew from a very young age that he was attracted to the same sex. This personal honesty and openness about his sexuality caused a rift with his father, who wanted nothing more than for Larry to date a nice Jewish girl, like his older brother Arthur. To please his father, Kramer briefly dated women throughout high school. However, by the time he entered Yale in 1953, Kramer had become terribly depressed, and felt like his entire life was a lie. It was during this time that he attempted suicide by swallowing a bottle of aspirin. The suicide attempt was unsuccessful, but Kramer came out of the experience far more secure in his own sexuality and vowed to never be dishonest in his personal life again. After graduating from Yale in the late '50s, Kramer went to work at Columbia Pictures. It was there that he first became inspired to write, and quickly positioned himself to work in the story department. The majority of those early years were spent rewriting scripts, but in 1968 Kramer was given his first writing credit on the British comedy "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush." Kramer mostly provided dialogue on the film. However, the following year his screenwriting career would reach its apex after he received an Oscar nod for adapting D.H. Lawrence's classic novel, "Women in Love" (1969). At the time of his Academy Award nomination, Larry Kramer was 34 years old.

Unfortunately, Hollywood was not as kind to Larry Kramer in the ensuing decade. Although Kramer did have a major screen credit as the writer of 1973's "Lost Horizon," the film proved to be both a critical and commercial flop, thus causing Kramer to question his career as movie scripter. It was also during this time that Kramer began incorporating more personal themes into his writing, beginning with a small Off-Broadway play called "Four Friends," which was produced in 1973. Still disenchanted with Hollywood, and inspired to be more truthful in his work, Kramer wrote the provocatively titled novel Faggots in 1977. The novel caused an uproar upon its release, even being banned by some bookstores, but became an instant bestseller, while catapulting Kramer into the literary spotlight. Kramer's most important work came a few years later with his socially aware play "The Normal Heart." Kramer wrote the play in response to the United States government's inaction in its efforts to quell the AIDS epidemic, which had already taken the lives of several of his friends. The play's success garnered him national attention, and over the next few decades Kramer became one of the country's most prominent AIDS activists. In 1992 Kramer wrote "The Destiny of Me," a kind of sequel to "The Normal Heart," which covered many of the same themes as the original. The play was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and even further cemented Kramer's status as a lion of the American stage. Kramer spent the next decades devoting himself to various causes within the LGBT community both in his work and in his public life, and even had a spark of late career success in 2014 when "The Normal Heart" was adapted into an HBO movie. Kramer wrote the script for the film, which we received overwhelming acclaim upon its premiere in May of 2014.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Vito (2011)
3.
 Outrage (2009)
4.
 Sex Positive (2008)
5.
6.
 Positive (1990)
7.
 Larry Kramer (1993)
8.
 Out in America (1991) Panelist
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Washington, DC
:
Did one-year stint in the US Army
:
Trained at William Morris Agency in NYC
1960:
Joined Columbia Pictures in NYC, then London as a story editor
1965:
Became assistant to David Picker and Herb Jaffe at United Artists
1968:
First film credit, as associate producer and additional dialogue, "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush"
1969:
Debut as screenwriter, "Women in Love"; also produced; received Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay
1973:
Penned the screenplay for the musical remake of "Lost Horizon"
1978:
Published novel "Faggots"
1981:
Was a co-founder of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, an organization created to provide services to those infected with HIV
1985:
His semi-autobiographical AIDS-themed stage play "The Normal Heart" produced at NYC's Public Theatre
1987:
Co-founded the protest organization ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power)
1988:
Wrote the politically-themed "Just Say No, A Play about a Farce"
1988:
Published "Reports From the Holocaust: The Making of an AIDS Activist"
1992:
Off-Broadway debut of his second semi-autobiographical stage drama, "The Destiny of Me"
1993:
Becomes a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for writing "The Destiny of Me"
1998:
Was a founder of Treatment Data Project (TDP), which collects treatment data on people with HIV disease worldwide via the Internet
2014:
Wrote an adaptation of "The Normal Heart" for HBO
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Education

Yale College, Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1953 - 1957

Notes

Received 1996 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature.

Kramer underwent a liver transplant in December 2001. The Associated Press erroneously reported his death when in fact Kramer had been moved from intensive care.

On why he wrote "The Normal Heart", Kramer has been quoted as saying: "I wrote it to make people cry: AIDS is the saddest thing I'll ever have to know. I also wrote it to be a love story, in honor of a man I loved who died. I wanted people to see on a stage two men who loved each other. I wanted people to see them kiss. I wanted people to see that gay men in love and gay men suffering and gay men dying are just like everyone else."

"I didn't expect to become an activist. That's for certain. I was on my way to being a screenwriter-a comedy writer-perhaps someday a playwright. ...

"I didn't expect a plague.

"But it came, and a bunch of us, not a great many of us, enlisted in an army to fight it.

"That's how I became part of the gay movement. Which is very different from just being a gay man. And if I hadn't given much thought to what I might be expecting as a gay man, I certainly had no idea what it would be like being in the gay movement. I guess I'm still in the gay movement. I'm gay. I'm writing this. I write about only gay and AIDS stuff." --Kramer writing in The Advocate, March 1999.

"Larry Kramer is one of America's most valuable troublemakers. I hope he never lowers his voice." --Susan Sontag

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
David Webster. Architect. Born c. 1947; met in the mid-1970s and had relationship; separated; reunited after 15 years c. 1993.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Faggots"
"The Normal Heart" New American Library
"Reports from the Holocaust: The Making of an AIDS Activist" St. Martin's Press
"The Destiny of Me" Penguin
"Just Say No"
"Sissies' Scrapbook"
"We Must Love One Another or Die: The Life and Legacies of Larry Kramer" St. Martin's Press
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