100 Heroes: Terrence McNally

The gay man who became a celebrated playwright.

100 Heroes: Terrence McNally

Terrence McNally was a celebrated playwright.

The career

McNally’s career as a playwright began in 1961, when John Steinbeck asked him to work on a number of projects, including a musical version of East of Eden.

His early plays included Noon, Next as well as And Things That Go Bump in the Night – a play that drew criticism at the time for its gay content.

In 1992, McNally won his first Tony Award for Kiss of the Spider Woman. Other successes included Love! Valour! Compassion!, Master Class, and Ragtime.

One of McNally’s biggest hits was Frankie and Johnny. The story of a waitress in a diner, it began life as a play, was adapted into a film – starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer – and then returned to Broadway in 2002 where it was awarded a Tony for Best Revival.

In 2019, McNally was awarded a Tony for Lifetime Achievement.

The relationship

Terrence McNally was married to Tom Kirdahy.

McNally and Kirdahy formalised their relationship with a civil union in 2003. They married in 2010. The couple renewed their vows in 2015 to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision that legalised Marriage Equality across all states in the US.

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