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Authors   >   Walter Kerr

Walter Kerr

Walter F. Kerr, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and drama critic for The New York Times, was born in Evanston, Ill., in 1913. After attending DePaul University for two years, he completed his studies at Northwestern University, where he earned a master's degree in 1939. For 11 years he was a faculty member in the drama department at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where he wrote plays, adapted classics, directed, and lectured on playwriting, directing and theater history. Kerr's long history of writing and directing plays on Broadway began when he co-wrote the 1942 revue Count Me In, a musical biography of George M. Cohan. He wrote and co-directed Sing Out, Sweet Land, a musical biography of American song, which premiered on Broadway in 1944. He married author Jean Collins in 1943 and together they wrote the 1949 revue Touch and Go, which he also directed. In 1954 he returned to Broadway, where he directed King of Hearts, a comedy he co-authored with Jean. Kerr's last Broadway venture was Goldilocks, a 1958 musical which he also co-authored with his wife. Kerr's career as a drama critic started in 1949 with the Catholic publication Commonweal. In 1951, he became drama critic for the New York Herald Tribune, where he remained until the paper folded in 1966. He then began a 17-year career as a critic for The New York Times, remaining until he retired in 1983. In 1978, Kerr was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for "the whole body of his critical work." He was honored again in 1990 when the restored Ritz Theater, on West 48th Street in Manhattan, was renamed the Walter Kerr Theater. He is the author of 10 books including How Not to Write a Play (Dramatic Publishing), The Theatre in Spite of Itself, Journey to the Center of the Theatre and The Silent Clowns, a reference work on the silent film era. Kerr died in 1996 at the age of 83.

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