Famous American Playwrights

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 1 
Arthur Miller
(Playwright Best Known for His Plays “All My Sons,” “Death of a Salesman” and “The Crucible”)
Arthur Miller
14
Birthdate: October 17, 1915
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York City, United States
Died: February 10, 2005

Arthur Miller was an American essayist and playwright. Miller is credited with creating popular plays, such as Death of a Salesman, which is widely regarded as one of the best American plays of the 20th century. Thanks to his illustrious career, which spanned more than 70 years, Arthur Miller is regarded as one of the 20th century's greatest dramatists.

 2 
T. S. Eliot
(Best Known as a Leader of the Modernist Movement in Poetry)
T. S. Eliot
7
Birthdate: September 26, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: January 4, 1965
American-born British poet T. S. Eliot is best remembered for his poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, and Ash Wednesday, and his plays such as Murder in the Cathedral. He won the Nobel Prize for literature and became a prominent figure of Modernist poetry.  
 3 
Tennessee Williams
(One of the Finest American Playwrights of the 20th-Century Best Known for His Work ‘The Glass Menagerie’ )
Tennessee Williams
8
Birthdate: March 26, 1911
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Columbus, Mississippi, United States
Died: February 25, 1983
Pulitzer Prize-winning Tennessee Williams is regarded as one of the most significant playwrights of the 20th century, and had also written short stories, essays, and poetry. He is best remembered for his plays A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
 
 4 
Eugene O'Neill
(American Playwright and Winner of the 1936 Nobel Prize in Literature)
Eugene O'Neill
6
Birthdate: October 16, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: November 27, 1953

Eugene O'Neill was an American playwright whose works earned him several prestigious awards, including four Pulitzer Prizes for Drama and the 1936 Nobel Prize in Literature. His play Long Day's Journey into Night is frequently named among the 20th century's finest American plays. In the 1981 film Reds, Eugene O'Neill is played by actor Jack Nicholson.

 5 
Neil Simon
(Playwright & Screenwriter)
Neil Simon
10
Birthdate: July 4, 1927
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York
Died: August 26, 2018
Height: 6'1" (185 cm)
 6 
Gertrude Stein
(American Novelist, Poet and Playwright)
Gertrude Stein
5
Birthdate: February 3, 1874
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: July 27, 1946

Gertrude Stein was an American playwright, novelist, poet, and art collector. She is remembered for publishing works about lesbian sexuality, which was considered a taboo at that time. Over the years, Gertrude Stein has been the subject of several works of art. In the 2011 movie Midnight in Paris, Stein was portrayed by Kathy Bates.

 7 
Lillian Hellman
(Dramatist and Screenwriter)
Lillian Hellman
5
Birthdate: June 20, 1905
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana
Died: June 30, 1984
 8 
Edward Albee
(Playwright)
Edward Albee
6
Birthdate: March 12, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Virginia, United States
Died: September 16, 2016
 9 
Thornton Wilder
(Playwright)
Thornton Wilder
5
Birthdate: April 17, 1897
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Died: December 7, 1975
 10 
David Mamet
(One of the Most Prolific Filmmakers of the Modern Era Who Was Known for His Psychological Dramas)
David Mamet
6
Birthdate: November 30, 1947
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Author, screenwriter, and playwright David Mamet is best known for his Pulitzer-winning and Tony-nominated play Glengarry Glen Ross. He has written for many Broadway and off-Broadway plays and also for films such as House of Games. He has produced and written for the show The Unit and authored several books.

 11 
Chadwick Boseman
9
Birthdate: November 29, 1976
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Anderson, South Carolina, United States
Died: August 28, 2020

A versatile actor and an inspiration for a generation of black youths, Chadwick Boseman is best remembered for portraying notable real life black figures like Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall and James Brown in their biopics. His excellent performance in Black Panther, though, turned him into a household name.

 12 
Danai Gurira
(Actress and Playwright)
Danai Gurira
27
Birthdate: February 14, 1978
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Grinnell, Iowa, United States
Danai Gurira is best known as Michonne from The Walking Dead and as Okoye from the Marvel films Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. She earned a Tony nomination for writing the Broadway play Eclipsed. She has been a UN Goodwill Ambassador and promotes arts and women empowerment.
 13 
Woody Harrelson
(Actor and Playwright)
Woody Harrelson
9
Birthdate: July 23, 1961
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Midland, Texas, United States

Actor Woody Harrelson has been active in the entertainment world for over 40 years now. The son of a convicted hit-man, he had a difficult childhood and grew up in poverty. However, he was determined to build a good life for himself and earned a BFA in theater before venturing into acting. He is a vegan and an environmental activist.

 14 
Zoe Kazan
(American Actress Known for Her Role in the TV Series 'Olive Kitteridge')
Zoe Kazan
11
Birthdate: September 9, 1983
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Born to screenwriters Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord, Zoe Kazan is also the granddaughter of director Elia Kazan and thus was never a stranger to show business. Now a regular on Broadway and in films, she also bagged an Emmy nomination for her role in the miniseries Olive Kitteridge.

 15 
Wallace Shawn
(American Actor, Playwright, Essayist and Screenwriter)
Wallace Shawn
4
Birthdate: November 12, 1943
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Height: 5'2" (157 cm)
 16 
Langston Hughes
(One of the Earliest Innovators of the Literary Art Form Called Jazz Poetry)
Langston Hughes
10
Birthdate: February 1, 1901
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Joplin, Missouri, United States
Died: May 22, 1967

Langston Hughes is best remembered as a prominent leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He was one of the first to write jazz poetry. He also wrote plays and short stories. He was a columnist for The Chicago Defender and wrote the iconic poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers.

 17 
James Baldwin
(Author Best Known for His Novel 'Go Tell It on the Mountain')
James Baldwin
9
Birthdate: August 2, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: December 1, 1987

Amongst the greatest writers of the 20th century and a leading literary voice in the civil rights movement, James Baldwin extensively explored issues like race, sexuality and humanity in his work. His best known work include his debut novel Go Tell It on the Mountain and his books of essays Notes of a Native Son and Nobody Knows My Name.

 18 
Mae West
(Actress, Screenwriter, Singer)
Mae West
9
Birthdate: August 17, 1893
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: November 22, 1980
Mae West began her career as a child actor in vaudeville. She later appeared in films such as You Done Me Wrong and Go West, Young Man. She became famous for her signature double entendres and sexual liberty she projected on screen. She also wrote books and plays later.
 19 
Christopher Isherwood
(Novelist)
Christopher Isherwood
4
Birthdate: August 26, 1904
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cheshire, England, UK
Died: January 4, 1986
Height: 5'6" (168 cm)
 20 
August Wilson
(American Playwright Who was Refered to as the 'Theater's Poet of Black America)
August Wilson
10
Birthdate: April 27, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: October 2, 2005
August Wilson, also known as "theater's poet of black America,” was a renowned playwright. He is best remembered for The Pittsburgh Cycle, his series of 10 plays that focused on the 20th-century African-American community. Two of his plays, Fences and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, were turned into movies.
 21 
Ernie Hudson
(Actor)
Ernie Hudson
9
Birthdate: December 17, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA
Height: 6'0" (183 cm)
 22 
Nora Ephron
(Screenwriter, Producer, Director)
Nora Ephron
12
Birthdate: May 19, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: June 26, 2012

Nora Ephron was an American writer, filmmaker, and journalist. She is known for writing films like Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally... The Nora Ephron Prize was created by the Tribeca Film Festival in her memory. Her life and work inspired the 2016 documentary film Everything Is Copy, which was directed by her son Jacob Bernstein.

 23 
George S. Kaufman
(Theatre director, Screenwriter, Journalist, Playwright, Bridge player, Writer)
George S. Kaufman
6
Birthdate: November 16, 1889
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pittsburgh
Died: June 2, 1961
 24 
Frances Hodgson Burnett
7
Birthdate: November 24, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cheetham, Manchester, England
Died: October 29, 1924
 25 
Aaron Sorkin
(Playwright)
Aaron Sorkin
8
Birthdate: June 9, 1961
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States

Aaron Sorkin is an American filmmaker, playwright, and screenwriter. He won the Academy Award for writing the popular film The Social Network. Aaron Sorkin is credited with popularizing his trademark extended monologues and fast-paced dialogue in films. He is also known for using single tracking shots of long duration where multiple characters enter and exit the conversation.

 26 
Lorraine Hansberry
(Writer, Theatre director, Screenwriter, Playwright, Human rights activist)
Lorraine Hansberry
13
Birthdate: May 19, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: January 12, 1965

Lorraine Hansberry was a writer and playwright best remembered for her play A Raisin in the Sun which emphasizes the plight of African-Americans living under racial segregation. At the age of 29, Lorraine Hansberry received the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, becoming the youngest playwright and the first African-American dramatist to win the prestigious award.

 27 
Harvey Fierstein
(Actor Best Known for His Work in the 'Torch Song Trilogy' and 'Hairspray')
Harvey Fierstein
7
Birthdate: June 6, 1954
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Tony-winning Harvey Fierstein is best known for his stage performances in plays such as the Torch Song Trilogy and Hairspray, and for his roles in movies such as Mrs. Doubtfire and Independence Day. He has also voiced Yao in Mulan and Mulan II. He is an LGBT rights activist, too.

 28 
Norman Mailer
(Author of 'The Naked and the Dead', 'Armies of the Night' and 'The Executioner's Song')
Norman Mailer
9
Birthdate: January 31, 1923
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Long Branch, New Jersey, United States
Died: November 10, 2007

Norman Mailer was an American journalist, novelist, essayist, filmmaker, actor, and playwright. A prolific writer, Mailer had at least one best-selling book in each of the seven decades post Second World War. Overall, he had 11 best-selling books in a career spanning over 60 years. A recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, Mailer is regarded as an innovator of New Journalism.

 29 
Rupert Holmes
(Composer)
Rupert Holmes
7
Birthdate: February 24, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cheshire, England, UK
 30 
Ruth Gordon
(Actress)
Ruth Gordon
10
Birthdate: October 30, 1896
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Quincy, Massachusetts, United States
Died: August 28, 1985
Height: 5'0" (152 cm)
 31 
Joyce Carol Oates
10
Birthdate: June 16, 1938
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lockport, New York, United States
Height: 5'8" (173 cm)
 32 
Tony Kushner
(Playwright, Screenwriter, Writer, Music educator)
Tony Kushner
10
Birthdate: July 16, 1956
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City
Height: 6'2" (188 cm)
 33 
Lin-Manuel Miranda
(Actor, Singer-songwriter)
Lin-Manuel Miranda
5
Birthdate: January 16, 1980
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
The multiple award winning actor, composer, lyricist, singer and playwright, Lin-Manuel Miranda, has transformed Broadway musicals like never before by combining classic musical theatre with modern musical forms like hip-hop and salsa. His creation Hamilton, a hip-hop musical on Alexander Hamilton, is one of the biggest musicals of all time.
 34 
Stephen Tobolowsky
(Actor)
Stephen Tobolowsky
9
Birthdate: May 30, 1951
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, USA
Height: 6'2" (188 cm)
 35 
Lewis Black
(Comedian)
Lewis Black
10
Birthdate: August 30, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Silver Spring, Maryland, United States
 36 
Sidney Sheldon
(Writer, Screenwriter, Novelist, Playwright, Film director, Actor, Television producer, Author)
Sidney Sheldon
4
Birthdate: February 11, 1917
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: January 30, 2007
 37 
Ossie Davis
(Former actor who appeared in films with wife Ruby Dee)
Ossie Davis
8
Birthdate: December 18, 1917
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cogdell, Georgia, United States
Died: February 4, 2005
Height: 6'2" (188 cm)
 38 
Colman Domingo
(Actor)
Colman Domingo
9
Birthdate: November 28, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Height: 6'2" (188 cm)
 39 
Matthew Cowles
(American Actor and Playwright)
Matthew Cowles
8
Birthdate: September 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: May 22, 2014
Height: 5'9" (175 cm)
 40 
Jason Miller
(Playwright, Actor)
Jason Miller
4
Birthdate: April 22, 1939
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Queens, New York, United States
Died: May 13, 2001
Height: 5'8" (173 cm)
 41 
Robert Greene
(Writer, Playwright)
Robert Greene
8
Birthdate: May 14, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Robert Greene is best known for his international bestsellers such as The 48 Laws of Power, The 33 Strategies of War, and The Art of Seduction. Some of his books have been banned in American prisons and have been described as manipulative, while some have been mentioned in popular songs.

 42 
Elaine May
(Actor, Film director, Screenwriter, Writer, Playwright)
Elaine May
10
Birthdate: April 21, 1932
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
 43 
Amanda Palmer
(Singer, Street artist, Composer, Pianist, Musician, Playwright, Blogger, Songwriter)
Amanda Palmer
10
Birthdate: April 30, 1976
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City
Height: 5'6" (168 cm)
 44 
Carrie Hamilton
(Actress)
Carrie Hamilton
11
Birthdate: December 5, 1963
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Died: January 20, 2002
 45 
Thomas Harris
(Writer, best known for a series of suspense novels about his most famous character, Hannibal Lecter)
Thomas Harris
8
Birthdate: September 22, 1940
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Jackson, Tennessee, United States
Height: 5'10" (178 cm)
 46 
Jim Beaver
(Actor)
Jim Beaver
8
Birthdate: August 12, 1950
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Laramie, Wyoming, USA
Height: 5'11" (180 cm)
 47 
Jonathan Larson
(American Composer, Lyricist and Playwright)
Jonathan Larson
7
Birthdate: February 4, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: White Plains, New York, United States
Died: January 25, 1996
 48 
William Goldman
(Novelist)
William Goldman
8
Birthdate: August 12, 1931
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Highland Park, Illinois, USA
Died: November 16, 2018
Height: 6'1" (185 cm)
 49 
Sam Shepard
5
Birthdate: November 5, 1943
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Fort Sheridan, Illinois, United States
Died: July 27, 2017
Ten-time Obie Award-winning playwright, author, director, and actor Samuel Shepard had also won a Pulitzer Prize for the play Buried Child. He was also the drummer of the rock band The Holy Modal Rounders. Fans remember him for his Academy Award-nominated performance as Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff.
 50 
George M. Cohan
(Entertainer, Playwright and Composer Who is Considered to be ‘The Father of American Musical Comedy’)
George M. Cohan
7
Birthdate: July 3, 1878
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Died: November 5, 1942