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Legendary gay playwright Terrence McNally dies from coronavirus complications

The four-time Tony Award winner passed away on Tuesday (24 March), his husband has confirmed.

By Will Stroude

Legendary gay playwright Terrence McNally has died from coronvirus complications at the age of 81.

The four-time Tony Award-winner, who chronicled gay life and love in plays such as The Ritz (1975) and Kiss of the Spider-Woman (1992), died in hospital in Sarasota, Florida, on Tuesday (24 March), his husband cofirmed.

McNally, who was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1996 and was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tony Awards last year, was considered one of the great American playwrights of the 20th century. 

Born in Florida in 1938, his career took off in the early ’60s on Broadway and wen on to span six decades and included almost four dozen plays and musicials, four operas, three films and four TV productions.

The height of McNally’s success came in the mid-90s, when he won four Tony Awards – including two for Best Play – in the space of five years.

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A year filled with highs and lows but without question my favorite memory of 2019 was Terrence winning a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award, followed closely by my winning a Tony for Hadestown. Winning His and His Tony Awards made for a very special year! What a blessing to work with so many extraordinary people in an industry that has the power to entertain, provoke, heal, uplift, transform. Filled with gratitude for all the love in our lives. @thetonyawards @hadestown @tomkirdahyproductions #lifetimeachievement #tonyawards #terrencemcnally #theatre #theater #hadestown #musical #playwright #producer #gay #lgbt #lgbtq #gaystagram #broadway #loveislove #husbands #lovewins #loveislove #lovetrumpshate #gratitude #attitudeofgratitude #hisandhis #happynewyear #2019 #2020

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His 1990 TV film Andre’s Mother, about a woman coming to terms with the death of her son from Aids, won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing. 

McNally, who had overcome lung cancer and lived with a chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, leaves behind his husband, Broadway producer Tom Kirdahy.

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Love Won. #terrencemcnally #lovewins

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The pair entered a civil union in Vermont in 2003, before marrying in Washington DC in 2010 and renewing their vows in New York in 2015 following the nationwide legalisation of marriage equality in the US.

Sharing a picture of the couple on Instagram hours after McNally’s death, Kirdahy wrote simply: “Love won.”

For the latest information and guidance on coronavirus please visit the World Health Organisation.