Arthur Kopit, three-time Tony-nominated playwright, dies at 83

Arthur Kopit, wearing a gray suit, looks into the camera
Three-time Tony Award-nominated playwright Arthur Kopit, pictured in 1990, died April 2.
(Nick Ut / Associated Press)

Arthur Kopit, a three-time Tony Award-nominated playwright and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist known for fusing disparate genres, absurdism and a darkly comic world view, has died. He was 83.

Kopit died Friday, said Rick Miramontez, a senior publicist at DKC/O&M PR. No other details were available.

Kopit earned a Tony nod in 1970 for “Indians,” a critique of the Vietnam War and America’s treatment of Native Americans that starred Stacy Keach as Buffalo Bill. Nine years later, he received another nomination for “Wings,” the story of a stroke victim’s recovery starring Constance Cummings. Both “Indians” and “Wings” were Pulitzer finalists for drama.


Kopit earned his third Tony nomination in 1982 for “Nine,” an adaptation of the Federico Fellini’s film “8 1/2.″ “Nine” returned to Broadway in 2003 and won two Tony Awards, including best revival. In 2009, Rob Marshall directed the film based on Kopit’s script.

Kopit’s other works include “Phantom,” a musical version of “The Phantom of the Opera” by Gaston Leroux that has been overshadowed by the more popular version by Andrew Lloyd Weber, and “The End of the World,” a mordant investigation of the arms race and nuclear destruction.

He made his Broadway debut in 1963 with “Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad,” which Jerome Robbins directed on Broadway while Kopit was still an undergraduate at Harvard.

Kopit later taught at Wesleyan University, Yale University and the City College of New York. He was a member of the Lark Play Development Center,

He is survived by his wife, Leslie Garis; his children Alex, Ben and Kat; his grandchildren Arthur, Beatrix and Clara; and his sister, Susan.