The second son of Robert and Charlene Margulies, Donald Margulies was born on September 2, 1954, in Brooklyn (Coney Island), New York. His father was a wallpaper salesperson who unhappily worked long hours for forty years at the same company yet was always frightened of being fired. His mother was a positive, education-oriented woman who worked in various offices when her children were young.
An exception to Robert Margulies’ often withdrawn nature was his love of Broadway musicals. He enjoyed listening to original-cast recordings during his rare free time, and when his son was nine, he took his family into Manhattan for a Broadway vacation. Although the young boy loved musical comedies, he felt privileged to enjoy Herb Gardner’s A Thousand Clowns. This comedy introduced Donald Margulies to art as a representation of life, specifically the complex relationship between fathers and sons that would eventually inhabit his early work.
Another seminal work in Donald Margulies’ intellectual evolution was Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (pr., pb. 1949), which he read at age eleven. Miller’s deeply moving drama of a frightened father, mother, and two sons in Brooklyn resonated loudly with Margulies as a reflection of his own life. Other inspiring literary “fathers” were J. D. Salinger, who understood the youngster’s adolescent angst and confusion, and Philip Roth, whose writings honestly taught Margulies about being a Jewish man.
Margulies got an odd bit of encouragement about his own writing abilities in 1972 when his school principal censored a short story the John Dewey High School senior had written, only to have the U.S. District Court rule in favor of young Margulies. Art was another great talent and interest for Margulies. He earned an art scholarship to the Pratt Institute, where he studied for...
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