Dale Wasserman, Playwright and Librettist, Is Dead at 94

Obituaries   Dale Wasserman, Playwright and Librettist, Is Dead at 94
Dale Wasserman, who wrote the book for the 1966 Tony Award-winning musical Man of La Mancha, died of heart failure in Arizona, according to Variety. He was 94.
Dale Wasserman
Dale Wasserman

Mr. Wasserman also penned the stage version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which was based on the novel by Ken Kesey. The drama, set in a mental hospital, was seen on Broadway twice: in 1963 with a cast led by Kirk Douglas as Randle P. McMurphy and in 2001 with Gary Sinise as the rebel patient McMurphy and August: Osage County's Amy Morton as Nurse Ratched. Mr. Wasserman's Broadway career began in 1954 as the production stage manager for The Azuma Kabuki Dancers and Musicians; that production played a brief revival in 1955 for which Mr. Wasserman was the lighting designer.

It was the classic musical Man of La Mancha — based on Mr. Wasserman's teleplay "I, Don Quixote" — that solidified his career. The musical, which featured music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, played five Broadway engagements. The first, in 1965, starring Richard Kiley as Don Quixote, ran 2,328 performances; revivals were seen in 1972, 1977, 1992 and 2002. The musical is also a staple at regional theatres around the country.

Mr. Wasserman, Variety reports, wrote approximately 80 plays, which are housed in the Billy Rose Collection at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts. He also penned the book "The Impossible Musical."

His screen work won him a WGA Award for "The DuPont Show of the Month"; he was also nominated for a 1961 Emmy Award for that same program.

Dale Wasserman was born Nov. 2, 1917, in Rhinelander, WI. He married Martha Nelly Garza in 1984; a previous marriage to actress Ramsay Ames ended in divorce.

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