( b. Apr 28, 1917 New York, New York, USA - d. Feb 09, 2009 New York, New York, USA ) Male
Robert Anderson, the American playwright and screenwriter whose popular plays explored relationships between men and women and children and parents in Tea and Sympathy, I Never Sang for My Father and You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running died Feb. 9 at his Manhattan home.
Mr. Anderson's most popular title may be the sentimental 1953 Broadway drama, Tea and Sympathy, about a sensitive prep school student named Tom, accused of homosexuality, who sleeps with Laura, a teacher's unhappy wife. The Broadway cast of Deborah Kerr (Laura), Leif Erickson and John Kerr (Tom) also appeared in the 1956 film, for which Mr. Anderson wrote the screenplay (which sanitized the gay plot point).
Tea and Sympathy has the famous line spoken by the wife to the boy: "Years from now when you talk about this and you will! be kind."
Dated though it may seem, the play was nevertheless groundbreaking for asking the question of what defines "manliness" in the age of conformity.
Mr. Anderson's plays were interested in relationships rather than political issues. According to his stepdaughter, Mary Kelly Busch, his best-known plays, including I Never Sang for My Father (1968) and the collection of one-acts You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running (1967), were about "people having trouble communicating their desires, their conflicting desires, and other things that prevented them from seeing what's in front of them."
I'm Herbert, a play within You Know I Can't Hear You , concerned a husband and wife who had previous marriages but could not remember with whom they did what.
In addition to the Broadway plays Solitaire / Double Solitaire (1971), Silent Night, Lonely Night (1959), All Summer Long (1954), Mr. Anderson wrote the screenplays for "Until They Sail" (1957), "The Nun's Story" (1959) and "The Sand Pebbles" (1966). He was Academy Award-nominated for "The Nun's Story" and for the 1970 screen adaptation of I Never Sang for My Father. He also wrote the novels "After" (1973) and "Getting Up and Going Home" (1978).
Mr. Anderson, born Robert Woodruff Anderson and educated in prep school, graduated from Harvard in 1939 and received his M.A. in 1940. While at Harvard he wrote a musical comedy called Hour Town (1938), an apparent spoof of the current Our Town, for which he wrote book, music and lyrics; he also acted in it and directed.
An early play, Come Marching Home, which he wrote while serving in World War II, won top place in the National Theatre Conference contest for plays by servicemen overseas. It was produced at the University of Iowa and in New York City, and helped him win a 1946 playwriting fellowship by the National Theatre Conference. On that fellowship, he studied under John Gassner in the Dramatic Workshop of the New School.
His first work on Broadway was creating sketches for the revue Dance Me a Song (1950). His play Love Revisited was produced by Westport Country Playhouse in 1951. An early play, The Eden Rose, was first presented by the Theatre Workshop of Ridgefield, CT, in 1949.
Mr. Anderson also wrote for radio and television.
In 2004, Polly Holliday starred in the Asolo Theatre Company's premiere production of a little-known play by Mr. Anderson, Free and Clear, in Sarasota, FL. Free and Clear had a brief regional showing 21 years earlier at Long Wharf Theatre, though the nature of that staging is not fully clear. Asolo billed its new staging as the play's world premiere and characterized the Long Wharf staging as an "evaluation production" and a "tryout," terms not usually used in resident theatre.
Free and Clear was a family story about two brothers who return home for their mother's birthday, each with hopes not fully embraced by his parents. According to Asolo notes, the play asked, "What obligations do children have to their parents? How much can a parent expect of their children?"
In 1991, his three-character one-act, The Last Act Is a Solo, about a fr