The birthplace of playwright Eugene O’Neill will be recognized with the unveiling of a plaque at the Times Square Plaza Building at 43rd Street and Broadway in Manhattan at noon Oct. 16.
On the 112th anniversary of O’Neill’s birth, leaders of the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, biographers Barbara and Arthur Gelb, actor Jason Robards, Circle in the Square producer Theodore Mann and others will be in attendance at the site where The Barrett House stood in the 1888. O’Neill — son of actor James O’Neill — was born in a third-floor room there.
The property has changed hands and hosted numerous structures over the years, and the site was previously marked by an O’Neill plaque in the 1950s, affixed by Circle in the Square, the theatre that specialized in O’Neill works.
O’Neill, who died in 1953, is regarded as one of the greatest American playwrights. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936. Actor Robards famously starred in productions of The Iceman Cometh and A Moon for the Misbegotten that re-popularized the writer. O’Neill’s varied works range from one-act “sea plays” (he spent time as a seaman before writing for the stage), gritty moral tales set on New England farms (Desire Under the Elms, Beyond the Horizon) to searing family dramas that unmasked his own dysfunctional family past (Long Day’s Journey Into Night). It was not all gloom and doom for the tubercular O’Neill. His warmhearted and humorous family drama, Ah, Wilderness! is regularly revived, offering theatregoers a glimpse of the childhood he never had.