Playwright Frank Daniel Gilroy perfected his craft during the 1950’s, that period called the Golden Age of television. Gilroy authored television scripts, film scripts, and stage plays, as well as novels and nonfiction. He enjoyed a fruitful, successful career and earned the respect of his colleagues.
Gilroy was the son of Bettina (Vasti) and Frank B. Gilroy, a coffee broker. Born in the Bronx, New York City, he graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School, showing a talent for writing. Unable to get into college because of low grades, he entered the army, serving in the Eighty-ninth Infantry Division, with time in the European Theater. On discharge, he entered Dartmouth College and graduated magna cum laude in 1950. During his college years, he wrote several plays and worked on the college newspaper. After graduation, Gilroy worked at part-time jobs while writing television scripts. He married Ruth Dorothy Gaydo in 1954 and by 1956 was writing scripts for both motion pictures and television.
His first professionally produced play, Who’ll Save the Plowboy?, debuted in 1962. Despite positive critical response and an Obie Award, the drama was not a popular success. Critics saw the play, with its lean, spare structure and dialogue, as a bleak, naturalistic, autobiographical expression of a dysfunctional family beset by life’s ironies. The play centers on a reunion between World War II army buddies Albert and Larry. Fifteen years before, Larry had saved Albert’s life and was wounded in the process. Through correspondence, Albert had told Larry about his happy life and marriage and said that he named his son after Larry. However, Larry discovers that the reality of Albert’s situation is a bitter, hate-filled marriage, a handicapped child, and a mean and petty lifestyle. Larry, slowly dying of the fifteen-year-old wound, proves his nobility by never revealing his knowledge of Albert’s lies.
The husband-wife relationship in the play mirrored Gilroy’s own parents’ marriage, and the World War II component reflected his own army...
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