While last year was an absolutely horrifying one in regards to celebrity deaths, 2017 has had its share of heartbreaking passings as well. Folks who have worked both behind and in front of the camera have passed away, and now a legendary playwright has unfortunately joined the ranks of 2017's deaths. Writer Thomas Meehan has died at the age of 88, leaving behind generations of theatergoers who have enjoyed his many Broadway musicals, as well as his work on Mel Brooks' iconic Star Wars spoof Spaceballs.
This sad news comes to us from Playbill, which broke the bad news to the Broadway community. Thomas Meehan had reportedly been ill for a number of months, and had recently gone into surgery in an attempt to extend his life. Unfortunately, Meehan passed away late Monday/early Tuesday in his home in Manhattan.
While the theater world is very familiar with Thomas Meehan's prolific career, many film fans have actually seen his work in films. In addition to writing Mel Brooks' Spaceballs, he has also had a bevy of his Broadway musicals adapted for the silver screen. He wrote the script for the iconic and beloved musical Annie, which was adapted into a classic film in 1982. Additionally, his scripts from both Hairspray and The Producers were adapted for their own movie musicals.
In addition to his work being brought to the silver screen, Thomas Meehan's work on Annie, Hairspray, and The Producers each earned him a coveted Tony Award for Best Book Of A Musical. All three of those shows would run for years and thousands of performances, cementing his legend status in the world of Broadway.
Tomas Meehan was a frequent collaborator of the legendary Mel Brooks, helping to adapt some of his movies for the stage. In addition to The Producers, Meehan also wrote the book for the musical version of Young Frankenstein, which ran in 2007. He adapted other popular movies for Broadway musicals as well, including Rocky, Cry-Baby, and Elf.
Mel Brooks took to Twitter in reaction to Thomas Meehan's death, penning a brief but lovely tribute. Check it out.
Thomas Meehan's passing is sure to be felt by many, including the generations of fans who have enjoyed his work on Spaceballs, Annie, and Hairspray. The Broadway community will no doubt be dimming the lights on the Great White Way to honor his prolific work for the industry. Our thought are with his loved ones at this difficult time.