Mississippi Writers and Musicians
MISSISSIPPI WRITERS: Mart Crowley


Mart Crowley Mart Crowley Photo by Klaus Schoenwiese

Major Works

  • The Boys in the Band
  • Remote Asylum
  • A Breeze from the Gulf
  • For Reasons that Remain Unclear
  • Avec Schmaltz
  • The Boys in the Band (film version)
  • Television screenplays
    • Hart to Hart (1996) "Harts in High Season"  (senior TV script editor for Hart to Hart)
    • Remember (1993)
    • People Like Us (1990)
    • Bluegrass (1988)
    • There Must Be a Pony (1986)
  • Eloise Takes a Bawth with Kay Thompson

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Biography of Mart Crowley

Crowley is a playwright who was  born on August 21, 1935, in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  He attended a Catholic high school in his hometown and graduated from Catholic University of America in 1957 in Washington D.C.  In the 1960's, he worked in California for many television companies.  Some of them included Martin Manulis Productions and Four Star Television.  From Three plays by Mart Crowley1964 to 1966, he was secretary for actress Natalie Wood.   Mart Crowley is primarily known for his landmark play, The Boys in the Band, written in 1968, which  deals with male homosexual lifestyles.  From almost every critical view, the play was praised by critics and Crowley was acknowledged as a master composer of economical, pungent and bitingly-humorous dialogue.

 The Boys in the Band , his first play, was first performed on the New York stage at Theater Four for the first time on April 14, 1968. Crowley's second play, Remote Asylum,  was not quite as successful.  It was produced in 1970 in Los Angeles at the Ahmanson Theatre on December 1, 1970. Crowley's third play opened in the fall of 1975. It was entitled A Breeze from the Gulf  and is based on the early life of Crowley.  Fortunately, the play brought back some of the power and energy of Crowley's first play.  It earned Crowley a second place vote for the prestigious New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

Crowley admits that his  plays are autobiographical. In his introduction to 3 Plays by Mart Crowley, he refers to The Boys in the Band and says, "There was never a real birthday party attended by nine actual men...However, just before I began to write the play, I had...attended a party for a friend's birthday and it gave me the idea of how to frame what had already been on my mind...All of the characters are based on people I either knew well or are amalgams of several I'd known to varying degrees, plus a large order of myself thrown into the mix."  A Breeze  from the Gulf  is based on his relationship with his parents but it has been "pushed and pulled, fictionalized and dramatized, and ...personalized."  The fictional Michael is in many ways  Mart Crowley.  Teddy is Crowley's father and Lorraine is his mother.

Crowley has not written any new plays since 1984 when he wrote Avec Schmaltz  for the Williamstown (Mass.) Theatre Festival. .  From 1979 to 1980 he served as the executive script editor for the ABC series "Hart to Hart" and later as the producer.  In the early 1980's Crowley returned to television production in California, writing the television movie adaptation of James Kirkwood's There Must Be a Pony.  In 1996, he performed in The Celluloid Closet, which was nominated for an Emmy. He has most recently collaborated in the publication of a children's book called  "Eloise Takes a Bawth, " a creation of  Kay  Thompson.   After writing "Eloise in Moscow,"  Thompson and Hilary Knight went to Rome where they worked on the book for four  years.   Playwright Mart Crowley lived in Rome nearby and visited them, adding his creative talents.  Despite the fact that  "Eloise Takes a Bawth" was  cataloged by Harper and Row in 1964, the book was never published.  Thompson died, but in 2001,  Thompson's heirs decided finally to publish  "Eloise Takes a Bawth."   Hilary Knight again set to work creating art from sketches he'd drawn forty years before. Matt  Crowley pieced together the many drafts of  Kay  Thompson's text.  Her niece and nephew and the editors at  Simon &  Schuster succeeded in publishing the book with the help of Crowley. Mart Crowley now lives and works in Los Angeles, California. In 2002, he came out with a sequel to The Boys in the Band entitled The Men From the Boys.

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A Review of The Boys in the Band


The play is one of the most out-spoken and liberated plays to be produced.  One could say it paved the way for more of its kind to come.  It took a tough subject matter and presented on stage the life of a homosexual at a time when there was enormous guilt felt by those whose life style this was.  Crowley allows the subject to be at times humorous and also at times pessimistic, but he is always honest and uncompromising. 


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Related Websites

Filmography for Crowley may be found at this site.

Hear the noted playwright, author of the landmark "The Boys in the Band" and its recent sequel "The Men from the Boys" discuss the creation of both works. Crowley also tells stories about his encounters with Tennessee Williams, Marlon Brando, Elia Kazan, and others in this special 48-minute web real audio interview which is hosted by Richard Wolinsky.

'Boys' to 'Men' / Mart Crowley's latest play takes 'Boys in the Band' through the past 30 years by Octavio Roca, Chronicle Dance Critic, Saturday, October 26, 2002.

Original Broadway Cast Of "The Boys In The Band" – Mart Crowley's - The Boys In The Band (The Original Broadway Cast Album)

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Bibliography

MacNicholas, John, ed. Dictionary of Literary Biography: Twentieth Century American Dramatists. Detroit, MI: Gale Research,     1981.

Crowley, Mart.  3 Plays by Mart Crowley. Los Angeles:  Alyson Publications, 1996. 

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Comment from a reader

Reading "The Boys in the Band" in high school probably helped to save me from committing suicide in high school.  This was the first exposure I had to gay literature, and it was the moment in which I finally figured out that I was not a monster.  I was finally a real human being.

This is not a life-style.  I came out for the first time when I was five years old.  Homosexuality has a genetic basis just like eye and skin color.  I can only hope that Mr. Crowley's plays can continue to be made available to high school students because internalized homophobia is still rampant and destroys many of us.

-K. Murphy 

P.S. This student's review was the best source of Mart Crowley information that I was able to find anywhere, so please add that to my original e-mail.  She truly deserves to be complimented on her research.

Monday, November 07, 2005

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Updated September, 2013
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