Tad Mosel, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author of All the Way Home, Dies at 86

Obituaries   Tad Mosel, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author of All the Way Home, Dies at 86
Tad Mosel, who adapted James Agee's novel "A Death in the Family" into the Pultizer Prize-winning stage play All the Way Home, died Aug. 24 in Concord, NH. He was 86. For the last 18 years of his life, he resided at the Havenwood-Heritage Heights Retirement community in Concord.

"A Death in the Family" was published posthumously in 1957; Agee had died two years earlier. Fred Coe, a producer who worked frequently in television, asked Mr. Mosel to adapt the work. Mr. Mosel had made his reputation as one of the early writing talents in television's golden age of live television. Writing for "Playhouse 90," "Studio One" and "Philco Television Playhouse," he worked alongside other writers who cut their teeth working for the small screen, such as Gore Vidal and Paddy Chayefsky.

The play opened Nov. 30, 1960, at the Belasco under the direction of Arthur Penn and was well received. It starred Colleen Dewhurst, who won a Tony Award playing a wife whose family is reeling from the sudden death of her husband. Lillian Gish and Arthur Hill also starred. The show almost closed several times, but in the end managed 333 performances, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Best Play Tony Award nomination. A film version followed in 1963.

Mr. Mosel never repeated the success of All the Way Home. Indeed, he never saw another play of his on Broadway. (He had previously appeared on Broadway as an actor in the 1949 comedy At War With the Army.) All the Way Home was revived in 2006 by the Off-Broadway company The Transport Group in a well-reviewed production.

He was born George Ault Mosel Jr., in Steubenville, OH, on May 1, 1922. His father gave his son the nickname Tad. Mr. Mosel went to Amherst College. The attack on Pearl Harbor caused him to leave and enlist in the Army. He finished his schooling after three years of service, and then attended Yale Drama School and Columbia. He began writing scripts for television dramas in 1949. He work was enacted by many of the great actors of the day, including Humphrey Bogart, Henry Fonda, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Paul Newman, Kim Stanley, Eileen Heckart (a frequent interpreter), E.G. Marshall, Tony Randall and Patricia Neal. Arthur Penn occasionally director Mr. Mosel's teleplays.

"It was the stillness before you went on the air that was so dramatic," Mr. Mosel recalled, "because everybody would be in place in plenty of time, but everybody would be silent. Nobody talking, nobody moving — the hands on the keys but not moving. The only thing moving was the second hand on the big clock, and then when it hit the top everybody started to move. It was very dramatic, that peace, that calm before you took the dive into it. It was a great thrilling moment and you suddenly loved every actor, and you just wanted them all to be rich and have children and go to happy graves." He wrote the screenplay to the popular 1967 drama "Up the Down Staircase," about a young female English teacher in an inner-city New York high school. He turned All the Way Home into a teleplay in 1971. Fred Coe directed Joanne Woodward, Richard Kiley, Pat Hingle, Eileen Heckart, Barnard Hughes and a young James Woods. Jeff Cullen adapted the play for yet another television version in 1981. This one, directed by Delbert Mann, starred Sally Field, William Hurt and Ned Beatty.

Mr. Mosel was predeceased by his longtime partner, Raymond Tatra. Mr. Mosel's $100,000 gift to the Havenwood-Heritage Heights campuses will help finance a new auditorium, Tad's Place.

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