WENDY WASSERSTEIN Biography - Writers


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Name: Wendy Wasserstein                                                             
Born: October 18, 1950 Brooklyn, New York                                           
Died: January 30, 2006 New York, New York                                           
Wendy Wasserstein (October 18, 1950 - January 30, 2006) was an award-winning         
American playwright and an Andrew Dickson White Professor-at-Large at Cornell       
University. She was the recipient of the Tony Award for Best Play and the           
Pulitzer Prize for Drama.                                                           
Wasserstein was born in Brooklyn, New York to Morris Wasserstein, a wealthy         
textile executive, and his wife, Lola Schleifer, an amateur dancer who moved to     
the United States from Poland when her father was accused of being a spy. Lola       
Wasserstein reportedly inspired some of her daughter's characters. Wendy was one     
of five siblings, including brother Bruce Wasserstein. Her maternal grandfather     
was Simon Schleifer, a prominent Polish Jewish playwright who moved to Paterson,     
New Jersey and became a Hebrew school principal.                                     
Wasserstein's first production of note was Uncommon Women and Others (her           
graduate thesis at Yale), a play which reflected her experiences as a student at,   
and an alumna of, Mount Holyoke College. A full version of the play was produced     
in 1977 off-Broadway with Glenn Close, Jill Eikenberry, and Swoosie Kurtz           
playing the lead roles. The play was subsequently produced for PBS with Meryl       
Streep replacing Close.                                                             
In 1989, she won both the Tony and the Pulitzer Prize for her play The Heidi         
Her plays, which explore topics ranging from feminism to family to ethnicity to     
pop culture, include The Sisters Rosensweig, Isn’t It Romantic, An American       
Daughter, Old Money, and her most recent work which opened in 2005, Third .         
In addition, she wrote the screenplay for the 1998 film The Object of My             
Affection, which starred Jennifer Aniston. Wendy Wasserstein earned a New York       
Drama Critics Circle Prize, the Drama Desk Award, and the Outer Critics Circle