Jack Gelber

From his NY Times Obituary, May 10, 2003 by Mel Gussow

Jack Gelber, whose play ”The Connection,” with its raw, graphic depiction of the dead-end life of drug addicts, sent a shock wave through contemporary American theater, died yesterday in Manhattan. He was 71 and lived in Manhattan.

The cause was Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, a cancer of the blood, said his wife, Carol.

”The Connection” which opened Off Broadway at the Living Theater in 1959, was so realistic that it seemed more like life than like theater. In its time it polarized theatergoers as well as critics but was soon accepted as innovative in style, substance and language.

”I was so affected and energized by ‘The Connection,’ ” Edward Albee said yesterday. ”It was exciting, dangerous, instructive and terrifying, all things theater should be.” Speaking as a friend, he added, ”Jack was never bitter, always honest, tough and uncompromising.”

Mr. Gelber was also a theater director and teacher and wrote a dozen plays, but ”The Connection,” which he wrote when he was 26, remained the cornerstone of his career. When it opened, it received negative reviews in New York’s daily newspapers, including The New York Times, in which Louis Calta dismissed it as ”a farrago of dirt.”

NFT Credits

Credit Type Production Season
PlaywrightThe Connection 1980-81 Season