May 6, 2011

Arthur Laurents, The Way He Was….

The legendary Arthur Laurents, who wrote the books for Gypsy and West Side Story and directed the original productions of La Cage Aux Folles, Hallelujah, Baby! and the infamous Nick & Nora, died yesterday at the age of 93. 

Laurents was the collaborator, friend and frenemy of, among others, Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, David Merrick, Barbra Streisand, and Patti LuPone, He was also the author of one of my all-time favorite movies “The Way We Were.” 

Proud and prickly, Laurents may not have been as loved as some other Broadway greats but he was totally respected for his prodigious talent and the eulogies have begun pouring in.  He lived in an incredible life and you can sample a bit of it in the following:

The official New York Times obit:

A snippet from an interview on the public TV show, TheaterTalk in which he talks about the making of Gypsy:

A longer interview on his entire career that he did last year with Donna Karger, the host of the weekly theater show, On Stage:

The revealing but controversial profile that Jesse Green wrote in New York Magazine at the time :

A less snarky portrait in The Advocate:

But the best view of Laurents may be the one he wrote in his take-no-prisoners autobiography, “Original Story By: A Memoir of Broadway and Hollywood”.  Laurents, died just five weeks after Farley Granger, one of the great loves of his life, dishes lots of dirt, settles lots of scores and offers an insider’s look at a golden time in the theater that, with his passing, recedes even further into the mist of nostalgia.  It’s a one-of-a-kind book for, love him or not, a one-of-a-kind guy:

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