Arthur Laurents (1917-2011), playwright, novelist, and director, was well known for his adaptation of West Side Story (1957) from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. His other works include The Painted Veil (1955), Gypsy (1959), Invitation to a March (1959), and Anyone Can Whistle (1964).
Laurents was born in New York City on July 14, 1917, to a Jewish family. He attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. His writing career began after his service in World War II with a play, Home of the Brave (1945). Though perhaps best known for West Side Story, Laurents found wide acceptance of his work for film and stage at the time of production; most notably, Alfred Hitchcock directed the film of his screenplay Rope in 1948 with James Stewart. Laurents’s other professional collaborations included work with Leonard Bernstein on West Side Story and Angela Lansbury in Anyone Can Whistle.
Laurents wrote a memoir of his work and life in 2000, entitled Original Story By, in which he discussed his blacklisting from Hollywood during McCarthyism, his homosexuality, and his success and failures on Broadway.