Edward MART CROWLEY was an American playwright born on this date, who was best known for his play The Boys in the Band.
Crowley was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. After graduating from The Catholic University of America (studying acting and show business) in Washington D.C. in 1957, Crowley headed west to Hollywood, where he worked for a number of television production companies before meeting and becoming close friends with Natalie Wood on the set of her film Splendor in the Grass. Wood hired him as her assistant, primarily to give him ample free time to work on his gay-themed play that was to become The Boys in the Band. which opened off-Broadway on April 14, 1968 and enjoyed a run of 1,000 performances. “The power of the play,” Clive Barnes wrote in his review in The New York Times, “is the way in which it remorselessly peels away the pretensions of its characters and reveals a pessimism so uncompromising in its honesty that it becomes in itself an affirmation of life.” The play, opening more than a year before the Stonewall Inn uprising in Greenwich Village, gave new visibility to the world it depicted, with the show drawing both gay and straight audience members.
Crowley became part of Wood’s inner circle of friends that she called “the nucleus”, whose main requirement was that they pass a “kindness” test.
Crowley’s sequel to The Boys in the Band was entitled The Men From the Boys, following the characters of the original story thirty years later. In. 2018 “Boys in the Band” was restaged on Broadway in a 50th anniversary revival featuring an all-gay male cast including Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto and Andrew Rannels.
Crowley also wrote and produced Remote Asylum and the autobiographical A Breeze from the Gulf.
In 1979 and 1980, Crowley served first as the executive script editor and then producer of the ABC series Hart to Hart, starring Wood’s husband Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers. His other credits include the teleplays for There Must Be a Pony (1986), Bluegrass (1988), People Like Us (1990), and a reunion special of Hart to Hart in 1996.
The Boys in the Band was adapted into a film in 1970 directed by William Friedkin.
Crowley had heart surgery and died while in recovery in Manhattan, in New York on March 7, 2020