The playwright Mart Crowley, whose 1968 play The Boys in the Band helped revolutionize how gay men were seen on stage and in popular culture, has died aged 84. According to writer Michael Musto, Crowley died while recovering from surgery following a heart attack.
Crowley’s play was the first to bring LGBTQ lives to the mainstream stage, focusing on a group of gay men gathering to celebrate a birthday party, and then launching into a dark night of many souls. Crowley originally wrote the play—later turned into a 1970 movie—with the encouragement and financial support of his friend, the movie star Natalie Wood, who once employed him as her assistant.
The Boys in the Band was revived on Broadway on its 50th anniversary in 2018, featuring an all-star cast including Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, and Jim Parsons. This critic hailed the play as an “exhilarating” and “meaningful” snapshot of gay lives, written pre-Stonewall, even if some contemporary audiences found the characters antic. It won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play in 2019, and a new Netflix movie of the play will be released later this year, co-produced by Ryan Murphy.