Gussow, Mel 1933–2005

views updated

Gussow, Mel 1933–2005

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born December 19, 1933, in New York, NY; died of cancer April 29, 2005, in New York, NY. Critic, journalist, and author. Gussow was a longtime theater critic for the New York Times and was often credited with helping to discover talented new actors and playwrights. Graduating from Middlebury College in 1955, he served for two years in the U.S. Army, first as a medic and then as a military journalist. After returning to civilian life, he worked as an associate editor for Newsweek. His first significant assignment came in 1962, when the regular theater critic became ill and Gussow had the chance to write a review of Edward Albee's new play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Gussow loved the play and got to know its author, marking the start of a long friendship. In 1969, Gussow joined the New York Times staff, where he remained for the rest of his career. During his years at the New York Times he encouraged the talents of writers such as David Mamet, Harold Pinter, and Sam Shepard. He also helped to make the public aware of young actors such as Meryl Streep and Spalding Gray. Forming close relationships with many prominent playwrights of the day, Gussow published several collections of their dialogues in such books as Conversations with Pinter (1994) and Conversations with Miller (2002). Among his other books on theater and playwrights are Don't Say Yes until I Finish Talking: A Biography of Darryl F. Zanuck (1971; second edition, 1980) and Theatre on the Edge: New Visions, New Voices (1998). His last book was Michael Gambon: A Life in Acting (2004).



Los Angeles Times, May 2, 2005, p. B9.

New York Times, May 2, 2005, p. A22.

Washington Post, May 2, 2005, p. B4.