A Donald Bevan caricature of Hermione Gingold hangs on the wall at Sardi's.
A Donald Bevan caricature of Hermione Gingold hangs on the wall at Sardi's.
(© David Gordon)

Donald Bevan, a playwright and artist best known for the World War II comic melodrama Stalag 17, as well as his caricatures of theater stars that adorned the walls of the famed eatery Sardi's, has died at the age of 93, The New York Times reports.

During the Second World War, Bevan flew missions as a waist gunner before getting shot down over Bremen, Germany in 1943. He spent two years in prisoner-of-war camps where he and fellow prisoner Edmund Trzcinski built a theater, wrote, and performed plays for the fellow detainees. The experience would serve as the basis of their 1951 play Stalag 17, which ran for over a year on Broadway before being adapted for the screen in 1953.

Following the war, Bevan, then an artist and illustrator, married the actress Patricia Kirkland and was introduced by her father, the playwright Jack Kirkland, to Vincent Sardi, Jr., proprietor of the theater district watering hole that bore his last name. Sardi was in need of a caricaturist, and Bevan fit the bill. In his two decades creating caricatures for Sardi's, Bevan drew the likes of Hermione Gingold, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Lauren Bacall, Zero Mostel, and Laurence Olivier.

They still adorn the walls of the restaurant today.