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‘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.

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