Film News

"Miracle Worker" playwright William Gibson dies

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Playwright William Gibson, whose “The Miracle Worker” won awards and thrilled audiences with its hopeful tale of the teaching of deaf and blind Helen Keller, died at age 94 this week in Massachusetts.

Gibson died on Tuesday, a representative of the Finnerty & Stevens Funeral Home in Great Barrington said on Friday. The cause of death was not disclosed.

“The Miracle Worker” first appeared on television in 1957 before Gibson adapted it into a play that debuted on Broadway in 1959 with Anne Bancroft portraying Anne Sullivan, who taught Keller how to communicate. Patty Duke played Keller.

The play won three Tony awards, Broadway’s highest honor, for best play, best actress for Bancroft and best director for Arthur Penn. A 1962 film adaptation, again with Penn directing, won Oscars for Bancroft as best actress and Duke as supporting actress, while Penn and Gibson were both nominated.

While “Miracle Worker” was Gibson’s best-known play, he wrote many others including 1958’s “Two for the Seesaw” which was nominated for a best play Tony and made into a movie.

Gibson earned another Tony nomination for the musical “Golden Boy” starring Sammy Davis, Jr.

The New York native’s 1977 play “Golda,” about Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, hit a sour note with critics, but a revised version -- “Golda’s Balcony” -- became popular in 2003.

Gibson also wrote short stories, poems and novels such as 1954’s “The Cobweb” and he published a memoir, “A Mass for the Dead,” in 1968.

His wife Margaret Brenman-Gibson, a noted psychologist, teacher, writer and social activist, died in 2004.

Editing by John O’Callaghan