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Frank Gilroy, Pulitzer-Winning ‘Subject Was Roses’ Scribe, Dies at 89

Pulitzer- and Tony-winning playwright, screenwriter and director Frank Gilroy died Saturday night of natural causes. He was 89.

Gilroy won a Pulitzer in 1965 for his “The Subject Was Roses” script, also taking home the Tony for best play for his work.

Gilroy’s sons — Tony, Dan and John — also took after their father in working in show business. Tony Gilroy wrote the “Bourne Identity” trilogy, directed “The Bourne Legacy” and wrote and directed “Michael Clayton” and “Duplicity.” Dan Gilroy wrote “Bourne Legacy” with Tony, and also wrote and directed “Nightcrawler.” Dan is additionally a writer on the upcoming “Kong: Skull Island.” John is a film editor, having worked on such films as “Pacific Rim” and “Warrior.”

Frank Gilroy was raised in the Bronx, and served in the Army from 1943 to 1946 before attending Dartmouth College and Yale Drama School after that.

The scribe wrote for several live TV shows, including “Studio One,” “Omnibus,” “Playhouse 90,” “Kraft Theatre” and “U.S. Steel Hour.” He created the series “Burke’s Law” in 1963, and wrote and directed the pilot of “Gibbsville,” based on John O’Hara stories, as well as 1977 TV movie “The Doorbell Rang.”

Gilroy made his theater debut in 1962 with “Who’ll Save the Plowboy?” in New York, which won the Obie Award. The two-act “Subject Was Roses” debuted on May 25, 1964, at the Royal Theatre. Gilroy would go on to adapt the play for a 1968 film of the same name.

His other film credits include writing the screenplays for “Desperate Characters” starring Shirley MacLaine, “The Gallant Hours” starring James Cagney and “The Only Game in Town” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Warren Beatty.

Gilroy also wrote fiction, including the novel “From Noon Till Three,” would was adapted to a film in 1976. Charles Bronson starred, with Gilroy writing the screenplay and directing.

Gilroy previously served as president of the Dramatists Guild, and was feted by the Writers Guild of America East with a lifetime achievement award in 2011.

In addition to his sons, Gilroy is survived by his wife Ruth of 62 years and grandchildren Sam, Carolyn, Rose and Kathryn Gilroy. A memorial service is planned for sometime in the fall.

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