Born in Brooklyn in 1950, Wendy Wasserstein's characters were often inspired by her larger-than-life family. She created strong female figures--often Jewish--who struggled with their careers, relationships, and families.
Wasserstein attended Mount Holyoke College and earned a B.A. in history in 1971. She then went to City College of New York and earned an M.A. in writing in 1973, and then moved on to the Yale School of Drama. She was awarded her M.F.A. in 1976. Her graduate thesis at Yale, Uncommon Women and Others documented her experiences at Mount Holyoke. It was produced Off-Broadway in 1977; the original production starred Glenn Close, and when it was staged for PBS, Meryl Streep signed on to the cast.
In 1989, Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles was awarded the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and a Tony Award. This success cemented Wasserstein's status as a dynamic playwright and vocal feminist. Her plays include a wide range of topics--pop culture, politics, family, romance--with complex and intriguing female leads. The Sisters Rosensweig (1992) reunites a trio of middle-aged Jewish sisters to celebrate the eldest's 54th birthday. An American Daughter documents the political rise of a doctor who struggles with both her family and media scrutiny.
In 1999, Wasserstein gave birth to a daughter (she was 48 years old). Wasserstein documented her baby in her essay collection Shiksa Goddess, Or How I Spent My Forties. She never revealed her daughter's father. In December 2005, Wasserstein was admitted to the hospital with lymphoma. Her illness had not been announced, and her unexpected death in January 2006 caused an outpouring of shocked grief. The night following her death the lights of Broadway were dimmed.
In addition to her eleven plays, Wasserstein also wrote novels, essays, and screenplays--notably, The Object of My Affection (1998) starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd.
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