Gesner, Clark 1938-2002
GESNER, Clark 1938-2002
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born March 27, 1938, in Augusta, ME; died of a heart attack July 23, 2002, in New York, NY. Composer, lyricist, actor, and author. Gesner is best remembered for his biggest theatrical success, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, based on the "Peanuts" comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. He studied at Princeton University, where he began acting in the Triangle Club and earned his bachelor's degree in 1960. For the next three years he served in the U.S. Army Special Services. Gesner then took a job as a writer for the children's programs Captain Kangaroo and Mister Mayor, and he also worked as a freelance writer, composer, and lyricist for film and television. During this time, he had the idea of turning Schulz's popular comic strip into a theater production. He obtained permission from Schulz to make the adaptation, and the first production was staged in 1967 at Theater 80 in New York. The play was a huge success and saw over 1,600 performances. But although You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, which he released under the pseudonym John Gordon, did well off-Broadway, it only survived on Broadway briefly in 1971 and again in 1999. Despite this, Gesner did well enough with this one play to support himself for the rest of his life, during which he continued to write songs and plays. For television, he worked on the Sesame Street and The Electric Company children's programs, and he wrote such plays as Finnerty Flynn and the Singing City (1969) and the music and lyrics to The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall (1976).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Los Angeles Times, July 29, 2002, p. B8.
New York Times, July 27, 2002, p. A24.
Washington Post, July 28, 2002, p. C6.