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Edward Albee

Edward Albee

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Also Known As: Edward Harvey, Edward Franklin Albee Iii Died:
Born: March 12, 1928 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Washington, Washington D.C., USA Profession: playwright, screenwriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A playwright whose name is synonymous with the best of American theater, Edward Albee was born in Virginia in 1928. A nonconformist from early in his life, Albee was expelled from two high schools and a liberal arts college before he set out on his own with the intention of becoming a writer. He settled in New York's artist-centric Greenwich Village and published his first play, "The Zoo Story," in 1959. The early effort won Albee the Drama Desk Vernon Rice Award, so beginning a long and storied career paved with accolades and overall acclaim. He would win three Pulitzer Prizes during his career for 1967's "A Delicate Balance," 1975's "Seascape," and 1991's "Three Tall Women." Additionally, Albee's most famous work, 1963's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" was chosen for the award by Pulitzer's drama section, but was overruled by the organization's advisory committee, which opted not to give the award out at all that year. Albee also won three Tonys-including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005-and was nominated for five more. Though he was openly gay, Albee was vocally opposed to being characterized as a gay playwright rather than as "a playwright who happens to be gay." His many works have been...

A playwright whose name is synonymous with the best of American theater, Edward Albee was born in Virginia in 1928. A nonconformist from early in his life, Albee was expelled from two high schools and a liberal arts college before he set out on his own with the intention of becoming a writer. He settled in New York's artist-centric Greenwich Village and published his first play, "The Zoo Story," in 1959. The early effort won Albee the Drama Desk Vernon Rice Award, so beginning a long and storied career paved with accolades and overall acclaim. He would win three Pulitzer Prizes during his career for 1967's "A Delicate Balance," 1975's "Seascape," and 1991's "Three Tall Women." Additionally, Albee's most famous work, 1963's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" was chosen for the award by Pulitzer's drama section, but was overruled by the organization's advisory committee, which opted not to give the award out at all that year. Albee also won three Tonys-including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005-and was nominated for five more. Though he was openly gay, Albee was vocally opposed to being characterized as a gay playwright rather than as "a playwright who happens to be gay." His many works have been praised by critics for their ingenious Americanization of European absurdism, and he famously established the artist colony the Edward F. Albee Foundation, Inc. in 1967, which was continually funded by Albee's royalties from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Albee passed away at his home in Montauk, New York in 2016. He was 88 years old.

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Milestones close milestones

:
Born in Washington, DC, and given up for adoption by his birth mother
1929:
Adopted by the Albee family
:
Raised in the New York City area
:
Sent to boarding schools
1940:
At age 12, reportedly wrote first play, a sex farce called "Aliqueen"; no copies are extant
1945:
Completed his first surviving play, "Schism," which was produced at Choate
1946:
After high school, worked at radio station WNYC writing continuity for programs
1959:
First produced play, "The Zoo Story"; premiered in Berlin; opened in NYC in 1960 with George Maharis and William Daniels in the cast, performed on a double bill Off-Broadway with Samuel Beckett's "Krapp's Last Tape"
1960:
Premiered "The Death of Bessie Smith" in Berlin; staged in NYC in 1961
1962:
Breakthrough play, the scorching look at marriage, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"; opened on Broadway with Uta Hagen and Arthur Hill in leading roles
1963:
Stage directing debut with "The Zoo Story"
1963:
Adapted the Carson McCullers novella "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe" for the stage
1964:
"Tiny Alice" premiered in NYC to mixed reviews; starred John Geilgud and Irene Worth
1966:
Received his first Pulitzer Prize for the play "A Delicate Balance," with characters loosely based on his parents and his maternal aunt
1966:
Film version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe?" made; directed by Mike Nichols; script adapted by Ernest Lehman; actresses Elizabeth Taylor and Sandy Dennis won Oscars for performances; Richard Burton and George Segal received Academy Award nominations
1971:
Received praise for the drama "All Over"
1973:
Solo screenwriting credit, the film adaptation of his own play "A Delicate Balance"
1975:
Broadway directing debut with "Seascape", his Pulitzer-winning drama about a middle-aged couple who encounter a pair of lizard-like sea creatures; critics reviled the production which closed after a brief run
1980:
Returned to the New York theater after a five-year absence with "The Lady From Dubuque"
1981:
Penned the stage adaptation of Vladimir Nobokov's novel "Lolita"; the production starred Blanche Baker and Donald Sutherland
1982:
Had yet another unsuccessful Broadway experience with "The Man Who Had Three Arms," starring Robert Drivas
1987:
Premiered "Marriage Play" in Vienna, which was later produced at Houston's Alley Theater in 1992 and in NYC at the Signature Theater in 1993
1991:
"Three Tall Women," which traced events in the life of his adoptive mother, premiered in Vienna; it was then staged in Woodstock, New York in 1992 and became an Off-Broadway hit in 1994
1993:
Had a season devoted to his works at the Signature Theater in NYC
1994:
Received his third Pulitzer Prize for "Three Tall Women"
1996:
Broadway revival of "A Delicate Balance" became a hit and won a Tony
1997:
Both "A Delicate Balance" (with Maggie Smith and Eileen Atkins) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (with David Suchet and Diana Rigg) produced in London
1998:
Premiere of "The Play About the Baby" in London; Albee directed staging at the Alley Theater in 2000 and Off-Broadway in 2001
2002:
Award winning play "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?" about a man who is in love with a goat, opens on Broadway
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Education

Trinity College: Hartford , Connecticut -
Rye County Day School: Rye , New York -
Lawrenceville School: Lawrenceville , New Jersey - 1940 - 1942
Valley Forge Military Academy: Valley Forge , Pennsylvania - 1942 - 1944
Choate School: Wallingford , Connecticut - 1944 - 1946

Notes

Received 1996 National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts.

On January 19, 1992, Albee was on charges of "exposure of sexual organs" in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
William Flanigan. Composer. Born on August 14, 1923; together from 1952 until 1959, when Albee left him for Terrence McNally.
companion:
Terrence McNally. Playwright. Met in February 1959; began relationship shortly thereafter; separated under less than pleasant conditions in 1963 when McNally left Albee for actor Robert Drivas; did not speak for many years.
companion:
William Pennington. Interior designer. Together from c. 1963 to 1971; deceased; left a bequest to Albee in his will.
companion:
Jonathan Thomas. Painter, sculptor. Canadian; born c. 1947; met in 1971; began relationship shortly thereafter.
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Family close complete family listing

mother:
Louise Harvey. Birth mother; claimed that Albee's father had abandoned her before his birth, which was one of the reasons she put him up for adoption.
grandfather:
Edward Franklin Albee. Theater impresario. Adoptive grandfather; Albee was named after him; operated the Keith-Albee circuit of vaudeville theaters.
grandmother:
Laura Albee. Died in 1940.
father:
Reed Adelbert Albee. Adoptive father; born in 1885; adopted Albee on February 1, 1929; had been married and divorced prior to his March 12, 1925 wedding to Frances Cotter; died in August 1961.
mother:
Frances Loring Albee. Adoptive mother; married Reed Albee on March 12, 1925; adopted Albee on February 1, 1929; died in 1989 at age 92; was the inspiration for characters in several Albee plays, most notably "Three Tall Women".
aunt:
Jane Cotter. Albee reportedly modeled the character of Claire in "A Delicate Balance" on her.
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Bibliography close complete biography

"Edward Albee: A Singular Journey" Simon & Schuster

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