John Guare was born in Manhattan on February 5, 1938, to John Edward and Helen Clare (Grady) Guare. Shortly after his birth, his parents moved to Forest Hills, Queens, where he attended St. Joan of Arc Parochial School and, when old enough, was taken to mass every day by his mother.
Guare’s father worked on Wall Street and had in earlier years been employed as office boy for George M. Cohan. Guare speaks of his very bright and unhappy parents, of listening to constant arguments between them and of hearing stories about his Hollywood uncle, Billy Grady. He heard stories about his uncle’s having secretly signed Elizabeth Taylor to star in National Velvet (1944) and about Grady’s managing the careers of Ruby Keeler, W. C. Fields, and Will Rogers. Exposed early to religion and Hollywood, he learned from direct experience about “Catholicism and show biz,” which he referred to as “full of dreams and phoney promises.”
Guare graduated from Georgetown University in 1961 and went on to receive his M.A. in English at Yale University in 1963. He was a fellow at Yale’s Saybrook College from 1977 to 1978 and adjunct professor from 1977 to 1981. He lectured, as well, at New York University and City College of New York.
His serious interest in the theater emerged following a series of experiences that included service with the Air Force Reserve, a job with a London publisher, and extensive hitchhiking through Europe that concluded in Cairo, Egypt. While in the service, he stopped going to Mass. In Rome, he read newspaper accounts of the pope’s impending visit to New York in 1965, and in Cairo, he received a letter from his parents about the pope’s ride through Queens on his way to speak at the United...
(The entire section is 716 words.)