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Playwright Terrence McNally Dies of Complications Due to Coronavirus—Celebrity Deaths 2020 – Parade

Terrence McNally, the prolific and dazzling playwright best known for writing Master Class, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune and Love! Valour! Compassion!, died Tuesday, March 24 of complications from coronavirus. He was 81.

A winner of four Tony Awards, McNally was a lung cancer survivor with chronic pulmonary disease. He died at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida.

Related: Prince Charles, 71, Tests Positive for Coronavirus 

McNally made his Broadway debut at 26 and had been writing for the theater ever since.

“I am of the school of ‘wright’ what you know,” McNally once said. “You can educate yourself, but the best writing usually comes from the heart.”

In his five-decade career, this maestro of the theater produced works filled with heart. He never shied away from writing about AIDS or other topics that were complicated and effected our world. McNally had a particular knack for being empathic for the human condition. He penned 36 plays, books for 10 musicals, wrote screenplays for television and film along with librettos for operas.

Related: See the Celebrity Tributes to Groundbreaking Director John Singleton

Just a smattering of his works includes the plays Master Class, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Mothers and Sons, Lips Together, Teeth Apart It’s Only A Play, The Lisbon Traviata, and the musicals The Full Monty, Ragtime, The Rink, The Visit, Catch Me If You Can and Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Related: Celebrities From Oprah Winfrey to Bette Midler Celebrate Toni Morrison

“A huge part of me is gone. But then it’s not. Terrence wouldn’t like that. He helped to make me who I am as a person,” Chita Rivera said in a statement. McNally was her longtime collaborator who wrote the book for her memoir/musical Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life,  “He is the epitome of love and friendship. Only God knows how much I will miss him.”

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This past June when he was awarded a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement, McNally spoke as eloquently as he wrote, “Theater changes hearts. That secret place where we all truly live…The world needs artists more than ever to remind us what kindness, truth and beauty really are.”

Here are some of our favorite celebrity tributes to McNally on social media.

Next, we remember 50 stars who died in 2019.


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