William Gibson (November 13, 1914 – November 25, 2008) was an American playwright and novelist. He won the Tony Award for Best Play for The Miracle Worker in 1959, which he later adapted for the film version in 1962.
Early life and education
Gibson graduated from the City College of New York in 1938, and was of Irish, French, German, Dutch and Russian ancestry.
Work as playwright
Gibson's Broadway debut had been with Two for the Seesaw in 1958, a critically acclaimed two-character play which starred Henry Fonda and, in her own Broadway debut, Anne Bancroft. It was directed by Arthur Penn. Gibson published a chronicle of the vicissitudes of rewriting for the sake of this production with a nonfiction book in the following year, The Seesaw Log. His most famous play is The Miracle Worker (1959), the story of Helen Keller's childhood education, which won him the Tony Award for Best Play after he adapted it from his original 1957 telefilm script. He adapted the work again for the 1962 film version, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay; the same actresses who previously had won Tony Awards for their performances in the stage version, Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, received Academy Awards for the film version as well. Arthur Penn directed both the stage and film versions.
His other works include Dinny and the Witches (1948, revised 1961), in which a jazz musician incurs the wrath of three Shakespearean witches by blowing a riff which stops time; the book for the musical version of Clifford Odets' Golden Boy (1964), which earned him yet another Tony nomination; A Mass for the Dead (1968), an autobiographical family chronicle; A Cry of Players (1968), a speculative account of the life of young William Shakespeare (with Anne Bancroft starring for Gibson, this time as Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway); Goodly Creatures (1980), about Puritan dissident Anne Hutchinson; and Monday After the Miracle (1982), a continuation of the Helen Keller story. His ill-received Golda (1977), a work about the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir became so popular in its revised version, Golda's Balcony (2003), that it set a record as the longest-running one-woman play in Broadway history on January 2, 2005.
Other published works
In 1973, Gibson published A Season in Heaven, an account of his studies with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Punta Umbria and La Antilla, Spain. In 1954, Gibson published a novel, The Cobweb, set in a psychiatric hospital resembling the Menninger Clinic; in 1955, the novel was adapted as a movie by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Family and later life
Gibson married Margaret Brenman-Gibson, a psychotherapist and biographer of Odets, in 1940. After 1954, the couple would later move from Topeka, Kansas to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where Margaret took a position as a psychoanalyst. Brenman-Gibson died in 2004, leaving behind her husband and their two sons, Daniel and Thomas.