- NAME: Eugene O'Neill
- OCCUPATION: Playwright
- BIRTH DATE: October 16, 1888
- DEATH DATE: November 27, 1953
- Did You Know?: In 1936, Eugene O'Neill became the first U.S. playwright to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
- EDUCATION: Betts Academy, Princeton University, St. Aloysius Academy for Boys, De La Salle Institute, Harvard University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
- PLACE OF DEATH: Boston, Massachusetts
- Full Name: Eugene Gladstone O'Neill
- AKA: Eugene O'Neill
Best Known For
Eugene O'Neill was the first American dramatist to regard the stage as a literary medium and the first U.S. playwright to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
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O'Neill suffered a personal loss with the death of his brother the following year. By this time, the playwright had also lost both of his parents. But O'Neill's private struggles seemed to aid him in creating greater dramatic works for the stage, including Desire Under the Elms (1924) and Strange Interlude (1928).
Around this time, O'Neill left his second wife and quickly began a relationship with Carlotta Monterey,
whom he married in 1929.
O'Neill re-imagined the mythic tragedy Oresteia in Mourning Becomes Electra (1931), exchanging ancient Greece for New England in the 19th century. Five years later, he became the first American playwright to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was given this honor "for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy," according to the Nobel Prize website.
O'Neill completed Long Day's Journey Into Night in the early 1940s, but he refused to have this autobiographical play produced until long after his death. Around this same time, he had a falling out with daughter Oona; he chose to end his relationship with Oona after she married actor Charlie Chaplin.
After several years' absence from the stage, in 1946, O'Neill returned with one of his most heralded works, The Iceman Cometh, a dark drama that explores the lives of a group of barflies. The following year, the playwright learned that he had Parkinson's disease, and found it impossible to write due to the tremors in his hands.
In 1948, O'Neill, never a supportive parent, cut ties with his youngest son, Shane, after Shane was arrested for drug possession. Two years later, his eldest son, Eugene, committed suicide.
Eugene Gladstone O'Neill died of bronchial pneumonia on November 27, 1953, at the age of 65, in Boston, Massachusetts, leaving behind a tremendous literary legacy of more than 50 plays. In 1957, Long Day's Journey Into Night was performed on Broadway to rave reviews; O'Neill received a posthumous Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for the drama. His work continues to move and fascinate audiences today.
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