Larry Kramer

Larry Kramer

Born into a well-educated family in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Kramer knew from a very young age that he was attracted to the same sex. This personal honesty and openness about his sexuality caused a rift with his father, who wanted nothing more than for Larry to date a nice Jewish girl, like his older brother Arthur. To please his father, Kramer briefly dated women throughout high school. However, by the time he entered Yale in 1953, Kramer had become terribly depressed, and felt like his entire life was a lie. It was during this time that he attempted suicide by swallowing a bottle of aspirin. The suicide attempt was unsuccessful, but Kramer came out of the experience far more secure in his own sexuality and vowed to never be dishonest in his personal life again. After graduating from Yale in the late '50s, Kramer went to work at Columbia Pictures. It was there that he first became inspired to write, and quickly positioned himself to work in the story department. The majority of those early years were spent rewriting scripts, but in 1968 Kramer was given his first writing credit on the British comedy "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush." Kramer mostly provided dialogue on the film. However, the following year his screenwriting career would reach its apex after he received an Oscar nod for adapting D.H. Lawrence's classic novel, "Women in Love" (1969). At the time of his Academy Award nomination, Larry Kramer was 34 years old. Unfortunately, Hollywood was not as kind to Larry Kramer in the ensuing decade. Although Kramer did have a major screen credit as the writer of 1973's "Lost Horizon," the film proved to be both a critical and commercial flop, thus causing Kramer to question his career as movie scripter. It was also during this time that Kramer began incorporating more personal themes into his writing, beginning with a small Off-Broadway play called "Four Friends," which was produced in 1973. Still disenchanted with Hollywood, and inspired to be more truthful in his work, Kramer wrote the provocatively titled novel Faggots in 1977. The novel caused an uproar upon its release, even being banned by some bookstores, but became an instant bestseller, while catapulting Kramer into the literary spotlight. Kramer's most important work came a few years later with his socially aware play "The Normal Heart." Kramer wrote the play in response to the United States government's inaction in its efforts to quell the AIDS epidemic, which had already taken the lives of several of his friends. The play's success garnered him national attention, and over the next few decades Kramer became one of the country's most prominent AIDS activists. In 1992 Kramer wrote "The Destiny of Me," a kind of sequel to "The Normal Heart," which covered many of the same themes as the original. The play was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and even further cemented Kramer's status as a lion of the American stage. Kramer spent the next decades devoting himself to various causes within the LGBT community both in his work and in his public life, and even had a spark of late career success in 2014 when "The Normal Heart" was adapted into an HBO movie. Kramer wrote the script for the film, which we received overwhelming acclaim upon its premiere in May of 2014. Larry Kramer died on May 27, 2020 in Manhattan, NY at the age of 84.