Friday, May 6, 2011

2011-05-05 RIP Arthur Laurents

FILE - In this Dec. 28, 1964 file photo, composer Richard Rodgers, 
at the piano, his new collaborator, lyricist Stephen Sondheim, 
right, and playwright Arthur Laurents are shown as they begin work
on the new musical "Do I Hear a Waltz?" in New York, The musical 
is being adapted from Laurents' book "Summertime." Arthur 
Laurents, the director, playwright and screenwriter who wrote such 
enduring stage musicals as "West Side Story" and "Gypsy," as well
as the movie classics "Rope" and "The Way We Were," has died. 
He was 93. (From www.kansascity.com)
On May 5, 2011, Arthur Laurent passed away in New York City.  For those that are unaware Mr. Laurent was the author of 'Westside Story' in 1957 and the most iconic of burlesque musicals, 'Gypsy' in 1959, which was loosely based on the life of Gypsy Rose Lee.  

Ethel Merman was the first to be cast as Rose (Gypsy's over bearing mother), which is considered to be the high point of Ms. Merman's career.  In later years Gypsy would have four successful revivals on Broadway.  The first was in 1974 with Angela Lansbury as Rose, in 1989 with Tyne Daly, in 2003 with Burnadette Peters (directed by Sam Mendes, the only revival not directed by Laurents), and most recently in 2008 with Patti LuPone.

He was also an accomplished stage director, wrote many radio plays including The Thin Man which was about a husband and wife detective team by the name of Nick and Nora, which later became one of my favorite movies.  He also wrote military training videos during World War II.  His biggest film success was as the screenwriter for "The Way We Were" starring Robert Redford and Barbara Striesand.

'Gypsy' has also graced the movie screen many times with many playing the coveted roll of Rose. In 1962 which had Rosalind Russel as Rose and Natalie Wood as Louise/Gypsy Rose Lee.  In 1993 Bette Midler took the lead in the made for TV version of 'Gypsy'.  It is rumored that Laurents was in talks with Barbara Streisand for a new version of the movie for the big screen with her as Rose.  

You can read more about Arthur Laurents amazing life and career at his IMDB PAGE as well as THIS ARTICLE from kansascity.com.