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Frank D. Gilroy, Tony- and Pulitzer-Winning Author of The Subject Was Roses, Has Died

The playwright and screenwriter was 89.

Tony and Pulitzer winner Frank D. Gilroy has died.
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)

Frank D. Gilroy, known for having won both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for his 1964 play The Subject Was Roses, has died. He was 89 years old.

Born and raised in the New York City borough of the Bronx, Gilroy attended DeWitt Clinton High School before enlisting in the army. Following two and a half years in the 89th Division, Gilroy went on to attended Dartmouth College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1950. The school then gave him a grant that allowed him to attend the Yale School of Drama, which he did for a short time before dropping out.

In the '50s, Gilroy worked in film and television, including the 1956 movie The Fastest Gun Alive and television shows Lux Video Theatre, Playhouse 90, and Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. His entry into the New York theater scene came in 1962, when the off-Broadway debut of his Who'll Save the Plowboy? won an Obie Award. Then in 1964, Gilroy hit Broadway with The Subject Was Roses, which won a Pulitzer, a Tony, and a Drama Critics' Circle Award. In 1968, he adapted the play for the big screen. Both the play and the film starred Martin Sheen.

Gilroy's later Broadway credits included That Summer — That Fall (1967), The Only Game in Town (1968), Last Licks (1979), and Any Given Day (1993). In 2000, he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Best New Play for his Contact With the Enemy.

The author's long career as a film and television screenwriter went on to include films such as The Gallant Hours (1960), the 1971 Berlin Film Festival Award-winning Desperate Characters, and The Luckiest Man in the World (1989). In addition, he created the character of detective Amos Burke for CBS' Burke's Law (1963-1966), a television show which was briefly revived in 1994.

Gilroy is survived by his wife, the sculptor and writer Ruth Dorothy Gaydos, whom he married in 1954, and their three sons — all of whom work in the film industry.


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