‘Boys in the Band’ writer Mart Crowley dead at 84

Groundbreaking queer playwright Mart Crowley, who penned the seminal The Boys in the Band has died. Crowley passed as a result of complications from heart surgery. He was 84 years old.

Writer Michael Musto posted to Twitter: “RIP, Mart Crowley, author of the groundbreaking gay play The Boys in the Band. He was Natalie Wood’s assistant and told me she encouraged him to write the play. He nabbed a Tony when the all-star version came to Bway in ’18 and the movie version of that will come out this year.”

Originally from Vicksburg, Mississippi, Crowley wrote The Boys in the Band, the first major American work of drama about gay men, while working as Natalie Wood’s assistant. It debuted off-Broadway in 1968, and foreshadowed the queer rights movement that would begin the following year with the Stonewall Uprising.

Despite its groundbreaking nature, The Boys in the Band would receive harsh criticism for homophobia, particularly after the opening of the 1970 film version. Crowley defended the play over the years, notably in The Celluloid Closet, as accurate to the time that it portrays. A 2018 Broadway revival starring Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer and Zachary Quinto earned wide acclaim, and will get the movie treatment from Netflix later this year.

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