Terrence McNally dead at 81 young and restless
Credit: Image: Debby Wong/Shutterstock

Tony-winning playwright, librettist, and screenwriter succumbs to illness.

Soaps.com is saddened to report that actor and playwright Terrence McNally has died of complications due to COVID-19 at the age of 80. McNally was also a lung cancer survivor who suffered from chronic COPD. He died on Tuesday March 24 at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida.

McNally was born on November 3, 1939 in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA. His parents were originally from New York and ran a seaside bar and grill called The Pelican Club. After a hurricane destroyed the restaurant, the family relocated a few times before settling in Corpus Christi, Texas. In 1956 McNally moved to New York and attended Columbia University as a journalism major, graduating with a B.A. in English. McNally was partnered to Tom Kirdahy, a Broadway producer and a former civil rights attorney for not-for-profit AIDS organizations. The couple had a civil union ceremony in Vermont on December 20, 2003, and later married in Washington, D.C. on April 6, 2010. They renewed their vows on June 26, 2015 in New York after the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

McNally’s career has spanned six decades, and his plays, musicals, and operas are routinely performed all over the world. His work centered on the difficulties of and the urgent need for human connection. McNally felt the main job of the theatre was to focus on rifts between people based on differences in religion, race, gender, and particularly sexual orientation. Some of his best-known works include the television series Mama Malone, the play Frankie and Johnny, which was turned into a film starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer, and the play Love! Valour! Compassion!, which was also turned into a movie and centered on the lives of gay men during the early years of the AIDS/HIV crises. He is also known for his many contributions to PBS’ long-running series American Playhouse.

The playwright was a member of the Council of the Dramatists Guild since 1970, and in 1998 was awarded an honorary degree from the Juilliard School. He received a second honorary degree from NYU in 2019. Over the course of his career, he won two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Grant, and an Emmy Award for Andre’s Mother. He was also the recipient of the 2019 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement and awarded the 2019 Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1996, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. Later in 2018, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the highest recognition of artistic merit in the United States. He has won four Tony awards.

While most of his career was as a playwright and screenwriter, he occasionally dabbled in acting. His early career was marked by guest spots on television shows such as The Greatest American Hero, CHiPs, and The Rousters. His final acting job was as Dr. Robert Lynch on The Young and the Restless from 1993 until 1994.

McNally is survived by his spouse Kirdahy, his brother Peter McNally and his wife Vicky McNally, their son Stephen McNally and his wife Carmen McNally and their daughter Kylie McNally. Through his husband, he’s survived by his Mother-in-Law Joan Kirdahy, and Kirdahy’s siblings Carol Kirdahy, Kevin Kirdahy and his wife Patricia, James Kirdahy and his wife Nora, Kathleen Kirdahy Kay, and Neil Kirdahy and his wife Sue. Soaps.com’s thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. Please browse our gallery of other stars we’ve lost in 2020.

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