Mark O’Donnell was an American writer, humorist, and librettist. Having received his Bachelor in Arts from Harvard College in 1976, O’Donnell wrote for the Harvard Lampoon along with his twin brother Steve. O’Donnell received the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical in 2003 for Hairspray along with Thomas Meehan. Together, they also wrote the script for the 2007 movie adaptation. O’Donnell collaborated with Meehan again on Cry-Baby the Musical, which received a Tony nomination for Best Musical in 2008. Throughout his career, O’Donnell contributed to The New Yorker, The New York TImes, The Atlantic, Spy, George Meyer’s Army Man, and Esquire. One of his most famous articles came from a 1980’s issue of Esquire, in which he wrote “O’Donnell’s Laws of Cartoon Motion”. O’Donnell went on to write for Saturday Night Live’s 1981-1982 season. He also taught comedy writing seminars at Yale University and was a longtime editorial advisor for the Yale Record. In addition to his journalistic works, O’Donnell wrote several plays and books including The Nice and the Nasty, Vertigo Park, Scapin (an adaptation of Molière’s play), Getting Over Homer and Let Nothing You Dismay. O’Donnell passed away in 2012 after collapsing in his Manhattan apartment at the age of 58.
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