I’d like to write a few words about writer/director/actor Douglas McGrath, who has just died. I greatly admired his work. He wrote the Broadway hit Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which ran for five years, and was planning to adapt it for the screen next. He just needed to find the time, because he always had several projects going at once. He wrote such Off-Broadway plays as Checkers and Political Animal.
He gave us films ranging from Bullets over Broadway (which he and Woody Allen co-wrote) to Emma (which he wrote and directed, based on the Jane Austen novel) and Nicholas Nickleby (which he wrote and directed, based on the Charles Dickens novel). He starred in the film Company Man, which he and Peter Askin co-wrote/co-directed.
In October, he opened in an autobiographical Off-Broadway play that he wrote, Everything’s Fine—a good-natured remembrance of his youth, and of a school teacher who fell for him. He performed the show, as usual, on the night of November 2nd, and everything did, indeed, seem to be fine. He was expecting to continue the run into 2023, and then focus on the film adaptation of Beautiful. But on November 3rd, 2022, he died at his Manhattan office, unexpectedly, of a heart attack.
I first heard his name, and how talented he was, before he was famous–from one of my favorite people in the world, the late cartoonist Henry Martin (to whom I dedicated one of my books). Doug McGrath, a Princeton grad who’d been active in theater on campus, was then dating Henry’s daughter, Jane. (They eventually married and had a son whom they named Henry). Henry Martin felt that Doug McGrath had a lot on the ball–and he sure was right.
He was just 64.