Moss Hart was an American playwright and director. He grew up in New York with his parents and younger brother, Bernard. At the age of 17, Hart began working as an office boy for the theatrical producer, Augustus Pitou. For several years he worked as a director for amateur theatre companies and as entertainment director of vacation resorts in the Catskills during the summer. Hart had his first hit on Broadway with his farce, Once in a Lifetime (1930), a satire on Hollywood which he co-wrote with George S. Kaufman. Over the course of the next ten years, Hart and Kaufman collaborated on a string of successful plays, including You Can’t Take It With You (1936; winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1939), and George Washington Slept Here (1940). Hart ceased working with Kaufman after 1940, but he continued to write plays, notably writing the book for the Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin musical Lady in the Dark (1941).
Hart became best known as a director during the 1940s and 1950s, directing Broadway hits such as Junior Miss (1941) and Dear Ruth (1944). His biggest success was Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s My Fair Lady (1956), which ran for over six years and won Hart the Tony Award for Best Director. In 1960, Hart directed Lerner and Loewe’s next musical Camelot. Hart had a heart attack during the show’s out-of-town tryout and the show opened while he recovered in hospital.
Hart married the actress Kitty Carlisle in 1946 and the couple had two children. He was the tenth president of the Dramatists Guild of America, from 1947 until 1956; his successor was Oscar Hammerstein II. Hart died suddenly in 1961 after suffering another heart attack. He was interred at Ferncliff Cemetery, New York. In 1972, 11 years after his death, Hart was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
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