Edward Albee, ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’ Playwright, Dead at 88
The loss of a true legend. Edward Albee, the famous playwright perhaps best known for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “A Delicate Balance,” died at his home in Montauk, New York, on Friday, September 16. He was 88.
According to USA Today, no cause of death was immediately given, though the writer was known to suffer from diabetes. Albee’s longtime personal assistant said the playwright died peacefully following a short illness.
The three-time Pulitzer Prize winner was regarded as one of America’s greatest living playwrights after the deaths of fellow greats like Arthur Miller and August Wilson in 2005.
His 1962 masterpiece, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” revolved around a middle-aged married couple and the disintegration of their marriage, as shared with a younger couple following a university function.
It was ground-breaking for its time for its use of vulgar language — like the phrase “Screw you!” — and was considered so dark that it was snubbed by the Pulitzer committee for failing to portray “wholesome” view of American life. According to NBC News, half of the committee’s members resigned in solidarity with Albee, and no Pulitzer prize for drama was awarded that year.
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” was later turned into an Oscar-winning film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. When it was released in theaters in 1966, Warner Bros. agreed to put a warning on the film about adult language.
In 2008, Albee tackled the controversy of his plays head-on in an interview with Charlie Rose. (His final play was 2007's "Me Myself and I.")
“If you’re going to spend $100 or more to go to the theater, something should happen to you,” he said. “Maybe somebody should be asking you some questions about your values or the way you think about things and maybe you should come out of the theater (with) something having happened to you. Maybe you should be changing or thinking about change. But if you go there and the only thing you worry about is where you left the damn car, then you wasted your $100.”
Albee’s longtime partner, sculptor Jonathan Thomas, died on May 2, 2005, from bladder cancer.