Arthur Laurents, writer of 'West Side Story' and 'Gypsy,' has died at 93


Image Credit: Oliver Morris/Getty Images

Arthur Laurents — an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and director who penned the books of watershed musicals West Side Story and Gypsy — died on Thursday due to complications from pneumonia. He was 93. (Deadline first broke the news.) Born in Brooklyn, Laurents wrote training films during World War II, and transitioned to playwriting after the war, finding his first success with 1945’s Home of the Brave, a play about anti-semitism in the armed services. His first major hits, though, were the musicals West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959). Laurents directed Broadway revivals for both shows — Gypsy in 1974 and again in 1989 and 2008, and West Side Story in 2009, when he was 91. He won the Tony for Best Direction for the 1983 Broadway musical La Cage aux Folles.

In film, Laurents wrote the Alfred Hitchcock 1948 thriller Rope, which starred his then-lover Farley Granger, as well as the films Anastasia (1956), Bonjour tristesse (1958), The Way We Were (1973) and The Turning Point (1977), the last of which was nominated for Best Picture.

Most recently, Laurents had signed onto a prospective feature film version of Gypsy starring Barbra Streisand. His partner of over 50 years, actor and real estate developer Tom Hatcher, passed away in 2006.

Comments (16 total) Add your comment
  • tundra

    He was swell, He was great … He will be missed, true legend

    • Jackie

      He had the whole world on a plate. RIP, sir.

  • Rob

    A true talent.

  • Lynn

    And also mean and petty.

    • Reginald

      I certainly hope people are as eager to list all your faults just hours after you die, you wretched hag.

      • KIK

        De mortuis nil nisi bonum.
        Rest in Peace, Sir.

    • hecep

      Lynn – Your comment at this time proves that YOU are mean and petty.

      • Sharon

        On the other hand, if it’s true, it’s true.

  • Pat M.

    1968, Regina, Saskatchewan; Dad and Mom left the 14 year old twins at the theatre to watch “West Side Story” while they went to an evening luncheon. First time ever in a theatre. It was total magic!
    Small town kids in the city.

  • Bill B.

    Thanks and R.I.P.!

  • Pauly

    Thank you, Mr. Laurents

  • Shannon

    A true legend. Thank you, Mr. Laurents. You will be remembered. You will be missed.

  • Mindy

    Thank you Arthur Laurents. You were a true talent. RIP.

  • DFSF

    Turning Point and The Way We Were, two undeniable gems of 70s cinema. RIP.

  • BWAY62

    “I thought you did it for me Momma?”

  • Anne

    BY most accounts a difficult man, but his contribution to american theater is undeniable. Gypsy and West Side Story are two of the most perfect shows ever created, and he certainly played a major role in both.

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