Playwright Paul Zindel, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds,” died of cancer March 28 in Manhattan. He was 66.
Staten Island native dabbled in creative writing as a boy, but had little interest in the theater. He studied chemistry at Wagner College and was a science teacher in Houston when he wrote “Marigolds,” based on his own upbringing. The play, about a young girl who lives with her abusive mother and epileptic sister, opened Off Broadway in April 1970 and ran for nearly two years.
It won an Obie Award in 1970 for best American play and the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for drama. The following year, it was made into a movie starring Joanne Woodward and directed by Paul Newman from Zindel’s screenplay.
Zindel’s other Broadway plays include “And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little” (1971), “The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild” (1972) and “Ladies at the Alamo” (1977). He also wrote the screenplays for several movies including “Up the Sandbox” (1972), which starred Barbra Streisand, and “Mame” (1974), starring Lucille Ball.
He was also a best-selling author of fiction for children and young adults, starting in 1968 with “The Pigman.” Other titles include “My Darling, My Hamburger” and “The Pigman’s Legacy.”
He married novelist Bonnie Hildebrand in 1973. They were divorced in 1998. Zindel is survived by a son, a daughter and a sister.