Paul Carter Harrison, Playwright and Theatrical Scholar, Dead at 85

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Paul Carter Harrison, Playwright and Theatrical Scholar, Dead at 85
Paul Carter Harrison, Playwright and Theatrical Scholar, Dead at 85

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Paul Carter Harrison, a playwright and theatrical scholar whose work was a staple in the Black community, has died. He was 85.

In a statement to the New York Times, Paul's daughter, Fonteyn Harrison, confirmed that he died on Dec. 27 at a retirement home in Atlanta, Georgia.

Fonteyn did not provide a cause of death for her father to the outlet.

"We cannot express more the utmost respect and affection he had from many people in the U.S. and across the oceans, as a writer, award-winning director, teacher, colleague and friend," Paul's family said in a statement obtained by WSB-TV 2. "For the family he was the Pater Familia."

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Alongside his daughter, Paul is now survived by his second wife, Wanda Malone, and a grandson.

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Born in New York City on March 1, 1936, Paul grew up falling in love with theater and later enrolled at New York University, according to the Times. After realizing, however, that he wanted to follow a career in psychology, he transferred to Indiana University, where he earned his bachelor's degree.

Paul then found his way back to New York and obtained a doctorate in psychology at the New School for Social Research. But, after rediscovering his love of theater, he took a year off to write, the outlet added. In his travels, Paul met actress Ria Vroemen, whom he married in 1963 before they separated in 1968.

When he returned to the United States that same year, Paul taught theater at Howard University in Washington, D.C., before later teaching at California State University, Sacramento, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Columbia College Chicago, where he remained until his retirement.

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Throughout the years, Paul also worked on projects that included books, essays and plays, which, according to the Times, "provided a theoretical structure for the Black performing arts." In his works, Paul would utilize African ritual and myth, the outlet noted.

Paul's play, The Great MacDaddy, even won him an Obie Award — a prestigious achievement given to theatre artists and groups in New York City.