John Osborne Biography (1929-1994)
Full name, John James Osborn; born December 12, 1929, in London, England; died of heart failure, December 24, 1994, in Shropshire, England. Actor, playwright, and screenwriter. As a playwright, Osborne shook the world of British theater when his third play and first London-produced drama, Look Back in Anger, opened in 1956. The play introduced the phrase "angry young man" to the stage and marked the advent of "kitchen sink dramas" about the lives of the struggling, urban working class. The playwright's fifth drama, The Entertainer, was written for British actor Laurence Olivier and featured a role that many in the theater consider among the most challenging in late twentieth-century drama. Early in his career, Osborne worked on trade journals, as a tutor to juvenile actors and as an assistant stage manager in a touring group, and as anactor specializing in characterizations of old men. He later acted in filmsand television productions. At nineteen he became a playwright, and a few ofhis dramas were crafted in collaboration with others. His first play was produced in 1949, but it was the production of Look Back in Anger that established him as a dramatist. In his plays, including The Entertainer, Inadmissible Evidence, and the musical The World of Paul Slickey, Osborne strongly expressed his concerns, notably about England, ex-wives, and critics. He also adaptedThe Father for the stage. Osborne was also vitriolic in his memoirs, A Better Class of Person: An Autobiography 1929-1956 (1981) and Almost a Gentleman (1991). Dejavu, his last play, was a sequel to Look Back in Anger. During hiscareer, Osborne won several Evening Standard Drama Awards, a New York Drama Critics Circle Award, an Antoinette Perry Award (in 1963 for the play Luther,which established Albert Finney as a stage actor), and an Academy Award for best screenplay for the 1963 version of Tom Jones (also featuring Finney). Healso founded Woodfall Films with Tony Richardson. In addition to stage plays,he wrote television plays and screenplays, such as The Charge of the Light Brigade and Jack and Jill. In 1994, Osborne issued a collection of prose titled Damn You, England.
- actor, writer
- Birth Details
- December 12, 1929
- London, England
- Death Details
- December 24, 1994
- Shropshire, England
- International Motion Picture Almanac, Quigley, 1995.
- Chicago Tribune, December 27, 1994, sec. 2, p. 6.
- Times (London), December 27, 1994, p. 15.
- Washington Post, December 27, 1994, p. D4.