March 25th, 2020

andrew potter

Terrence McNally (November 3, 1938 - March 24, 2020)

Terrence McNally (born November 3, 1938) was an American playwright who received four Tony Awards, an Emmy, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Grant, the Lucille Lortel Award, the Hull-Warriner Award, and a citation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was a member of the Council of the Dramatists Guild since 1970 and served as vice-president since 1981. McNally married Thomas Kirdahy in Vermont in 2003 (they met in 2001), and they subsequently re-married in Washington, D.C. on April 6, 2010.

Born in St. Petersburg, Florida and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, McNally moved to New York City in 1956 to attend Columbia University, where he majored in English and wrote Columbia's annual Varsity Show, graduating in 1960, the same year in which he gained membership into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He worked briefly for the alumni magazine Columbia College Today.

After graduation, McNally moved to Mexico to focus on his writing, completing a one-act play which he submitted to the Actors Studio in New York for production. While the play was turned down by the acting school, the Studio was impressed with the script, and McNally was invited to serve as the Studio's stage manager so that he could gain practical knowledge of theater.

Edward Albee met McNally in February 1959 at a party, beginning a relationship lasting five years. The relationship ended in 1963 when McNally became involved with actor Robert Drivas.

In 1968, McNally asked that his name be removed from the credits for what would have been his first major project, the musical Here's Where I Belong. His decision proved to be a wise one, as the show closed after one performance. Although several early comedies such as Next in 1969 and The Ritz in 1975 won McNally critical praise, it was not until later in his career that he would become truly successful with works such as his Off-Broadway play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune and its screen adaptation with stars Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Together since 2001, Terrence McNally married Thomas Kirdahy in a civil union ceremony in Vermont in 2003, and they subsequently in Washington, D.C. on April 6, 2010.

Terrence McNally & Thomas Kirdahy by Scott Pasfield (Gay in America)
"The best thing I've done in my long life is marry Tom Kirdahy. It was that moment, just a year ago, in the shadow of the Kennedy Center in our nation's capital when I understood who I was and all I still could be. The total commitment of two lives to each other is a profound moment for anyone, but for a gay man born in 1938 it was an overwhelming one"

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Tom Kirdahy has dedicated his professional career and personal life working for LGBT causes. Tom spent nearly two decades as an attorney providing free legal services to people with HIV/AIDS, helping to create projects at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Bronx AIDS Services and on Long Island. Tom currently serves on the board of a LGBT Center. Separately, Tom has raised the curtain on the second act of his career as a theater producer, receiving a Tony nomination as one of the lead producers of RAGTIME.

Terrence McNally, playwright, and Thomas Joseph Kirdahy, public-interest lawyer, affirmed their partnership on December 20, 2003, at the Inn at Sawmill Farm in West Dover. Vt. Millicent B. Atkin, a justice of the peace for Dover, Vt., performed the civil union ceremony. (Picture: Terrence McNally)

Mr. McNally won Tony awards for best play for ''Love! Valour! Compassion!'' (1995) and ''Master Class'' (1996) and for best book of a musical for his adaptations of ''Kiss of the Spider Woman'' (1993) and ''Ragtime'' (1998). Mr. McNally also wrote ''Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune'' (1987) and ''Lips Together, Teeth Apart''(1991).

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Love! Valour! Compassion! By Terrence McNally – Okay…so it’s a play, not a novel or short story. But it’s totally bril so it has to be included in this list. I know some people can’t get into reading plays the same way they do a book, and maybe it’s the writer in me, but I LOVE it. I get to create the sets in my mind, cast it with actors I like and basically direct the entire thing in my head while I’m reading it. Try it sometime if you haven’t already. It’s fun, damn it!! : ) Other than playing director, the story is also in my opinion, one of the best and most true depictions of gay men I’ve ever read. I can honestly say I either am or know every single one of the characters and like life – it is at times funny & sad, sexy & romantic, as well as sweet & sarcastic. If you just can’t get into reading the play, then watch the film. For me the play is better, but either way, McNally will have you running the emotional gamut, yet somehow leaving you with this incredible sense of hopefulness. --Ethan Day

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