Arthur Laurents

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Arthur Laurents (born July 14, 1918) is an American playwright, librettist, stage director, and screenwriter. His credits include the stage musicals West Side Story and Gypsy and the film The Way We Were.


Early life

Laurents, the son of a lawyer and a schoolteacher who gave up her career when she married, was born and raised in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, the elder of two children, and attended Erasmus Hall High School. His sister Edith suffered from chorea as a child and, as a result, Laurents always felt protective toward her.

His paternal grandparents were Orthodox Jews and his mother's parents, although born Jewish, were atheists. His mother kept a Kosher home for her husband's sake, but was lax about attending temple and observing the Jewish holidays. His Bar Mitzvah marked the end of Laurents' religious education and the beginning of his rejection of all fundamentalist religions,[1] although he continued to identify himself as Jewish.[2]

After graduating from Cornell University, Laurents took an evening class in radio writing at New York University. His instructor, a CBS Radio director/producer, submitted his script Now Playing Tomorrow, a comedic fantasy about clairvoyance, to the network, and it was produced with Shirley Booth in the lead role. It was Laurents' first professional credit. The show's success led to him being hired to write scripts for various radio shows, among them Lux Radio Theater.[3]

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