Larry Kramer the celebrated playwright and activist best known for penning the The Normal Heart has died. Kramer reportedly died in Manhattan Wednesday morning after suffering from pneumonia. He was 84.
The news of Larry Kramer’s passing was revealed by his husband, David Webster, who confirmed Kramer’s death to The New York Times. Kramer was most recently working on a play about the COVID-19 crisis.
Larry Kramer was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut on June 25, 1935. A graduate of Yale University, Kramer would first serve as a dialogue writer for the British comedy Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush. However, Kramer would find wider fame when he penned the screenplay for the 1969 film Women in Love, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
During the '70s, Larry Kramer sought to explore themes that weren't typically touched upon in mainstream media, especially those that dealt with people who were coming to understand their sexuality. In 1973, he produced the play Sissies' Scrapbook, which centered on a group of friends, one of which was openly gay.
In 1978, Larry Kramer would publish the satirical novel Faggots, which presented a look at New York's gay community While the book initially caused controversy for due to the subject matter and Kramer's tone, it has since been cited for its introspective look into the gay community.
Though he initially never aimed to be a political activist, Kramer soon became involved in the fight for gay rights, after many of his friends became ill from what was eventually identified as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). He would eventually partner with other gay men to establish the Gay Men's Health Crisis, which sought to provide services fro those suffering from AIDS. His efforts would ultimately help to shine a light on the AIDS issue in New York.
By the 1980s, Larry Kramer had been ousted from the Gay Men's Health and had sworn he would never write again, though this changed after he toured Dachau concentration camp. What he learned there would inspire him to write The Normal Heart. The play took place between 1981 and 1984 and centered on the character of Ned Weeks, a writer who seeks to care for his ailing lover. The character was partially based on Kramer, who also dealt with the loss of a lover.
The Normal Heart debuted as an Off-Broadway play in 1985 and earned rave reviews. The show would also go on to win three Tony Awards. Not only was Kramer's writing praised, but the play as a whole was cited for shining a true light on the AIDS crisis and helping to give it national attention. The play was later revived in 2004 and, in 2011, The Normal Heart was adapted into a critically acclaimed TV movie for HBO, directed by Ryan Murphy using Kramer's screenplay:
In his later years, Larry Kramer would pen a number of other plays including Just Say No, A Play about a Farce and The Destiny of Me, a sequel to The Normal Heart. He would also be instrumental in forming the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in 1987 and would work with Yale University to establish the Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies.
Larry Kramer is survived by his husband. We here at CinemaBlend extend our thoughts to the family, friends and loved ones of Larry Kramer during this time.
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