×

‘The Elephant Man’ Playwright Bernard Pomerance Dies at 76

Bernard Pomerance, the acclaimed playwright known best for writing “The Elephant Man,” has died. He was 76.

He died on Saturday at his home in Galisteo, N.M., his long time agent Alan Brodie confirmed. The cause of death was complications from cancer.

Pomerance was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1940, and studied at the University of Chicago before moving to London in his late 20s. His first play was “High in Vietnam, Hot Damn.” Pomerance would go on to form the theater company Foco Novo in 1972 with the show’s director, Roland Rees, and David Aukin.

Pomerance first wrote “The Elephant Man” for Foco Novo. The play opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre in 1979 and it went on to win the Tony for best play. It ran for 916 performances.

David Schofield originated the lead role, John Merrick, but it has been played by many actors over the years including Philip Anglim, David Bowie, and Billy Crudup. Most recently, Bradley Cooper starred in the 2015 revival.

The play was famously adapted into a film in 1980 that was nominated for eight Academy Awards. David Lynch directed the adaptation that starred John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, and Anne Bancroft.

Pomerance also wrote several other plays including “Quantrill in Lawrence” and “Melons.” Grove Press published a collection of his works for stage in 2001.

Also a poet, his long form work “We Need to Dream All This Again” was published in 1988. At the time of his death Mr. Pomerance was preparing new productions of his plays “Miranda” and “Spinoff.”

He is survived by his children Moby and Eve, two grandchildren William Mossek and Gabriel Pomerance and a brother Michael. His wife, Evelyn Franceschi, died in 2015.

More Legit

  • Because of Winn Dixie review

    Regional Theater Review: 'Because of Winn Dixie,' the Musical

    Watching the musical “Because of Winn Dixie” at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Conn., it’s hard not to think of another show that premiered in the same regional theater 43 years ago. It, too, featured a scruffy stray dog, a lonely-but-enterprising young girl and a closed-off daddy who finally opens up. But “Winn Dixie,” based [...]

  • MOSCOW MOSCOW MOSCOW MOSCOW MOSCOW MOSCOWby

    Off Broadway Review: 'Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow'

    There’s something about Anton Chekhov’s whiny sisters that invites comic sendups of “Three Sisters” like the one Halley Feiffer wrote on commission for the Williamstown Theater Festival. Transferred to MCC Theater’s new Off Broadway space and playing in the round in a black box with limited seating capacity, the crafty show feels intimate and familiar. [...]

  • the way she spoke review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Way She Spoke' With Kate del Castillo

    Since the 1990s, scores of women in Juarez, Mexico have been mutilated, raped, and murdered at such a rate that some have called it an epidemic of femicide—killing women and girls solely because they are women. Isaac Gomez’s play “the way she spoke,” produced Off Broadway by Audible and starring Kate del Castillo, confronts the [...]

  • HBO's 'SUCCESSION

    Brian Cox Playing LBJ in Broadway Run of 'The Great Society'

    Brian Cox will play President Lyndon Johnson in the Broadway run of “The Great Society,” playwright Robert Schenkkan’s follow-up to “All the Way.” The role of Johnson, a crude, but visionary politician who used the office of the presidency to pass landmark civil rights legislation and social programs, was originally played by Bryan Cranston in [...]

  • Paul McCartney Has Penned Score for

    Paul McCartney Has Been Secretly Writing an 'It's a Wonderful Life' Musical

    The pop superstar who once released a movie and album called “Give My Regards to Broad Street” really does have designs on Broadway, after all. It was revealed Wednesday that Paul McCartney has already written a song score for a stage musical adaptation of the 1946 Frank Capra film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The [...]

  • The Night of the Iguana review

    West End Review: 'The Night of the Iguana' With Clive Owen

    If Tennessee Williams is the poet laureate of lost souls, none of his characters as are off-grid as the restless travelers trying to make it through his little-seen 1961 play, “The Night of the Iguana.” Holed up in a remote Mexican homestay, its ragtag itinerants live hand-to-mouth, day by day, as they seek refuge from [...]

  • Moulin Rouge Broadway

    Listen: The Special Sauce in Broadway's 'Moulin Rouge!'

    There are songs in the new Broadway version of “Moulin Rouge!” that weren’t in Baz Luhrmann’s hit movie — but you probably know them anyway. They’re popular tunes by superstars like Beyoncé, Adele and Rihanna, released after the 2001 movie came out, and they’ll probably unleash a flood of memories and associations in every audience [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content