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Jerome Lawrence (July 14, 1915 - February 29, 2004) was an American playwright and author.

Life and career

Lawrence was born Jerome Lawrence Schwartz in Cleveland, Ohiomarker, the son of Sarah (née Rogen), a poet, and Samuel Schwartz, a printer. He worked for several small newspapers as a reporter/editor before moving into radio as a writer for CBS. With his writing partner, Robert E. Lee, Lawrence worked for Armed Forces Radio during World War II; Lawrence and Lee became the most prolific writing partnership in radio, with such long-running series as Favorite Story among others.

Lawrence and Lee turned to the live theatre in 1955 with Inherit the Wind, which remains among the most-produced plays in the American theatre. They also collaborated on the plays Auntie Mame, The Incomparable Max, and First Monday in October, among others. In 1965, they founded the American Playwrights' Theatre, a plan to bypass the commerciality of the Broadway stage, which foreshadowed the professional regional theatre movement. Their wildly successful play, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, was produced through the American Playwrights Theatre, and premiered at Lawrence's alma mater, Ohio State Universitymarker, which also commissioned their play on the life and times of James Thurber, Jabberwock (1972).

In all, they collaborated on 39 works, including a 1956 musical adaptation of James Hilton's Lost Horizon, entitled Shangri-La, with the author himself. They also adapted Auntie Mame into the hit musical Mame with composer Jerry Herman, which won a Tony Award for its star, Angela Lansbury. Less successful was the Lawrence and Lee collaboration with Herman, also starring Lansbury, Dear World, a musical adaptation of Giraudoux's The Madwoman of Chaillot. The Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute, a research facility and archive was dedicated in Lawrence and Lee's honor at the Ohio State Universitymarker in 1986.

Lawrence taught playwriting in the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern Californiamarker.

Lawrence's lone Tony Award nomination was for Best Book of a Musical for Mame. He died due to complications from a stroke in Malibu, Californiamarker.



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