Artist Bio

Jerome Lawrence

Honored playwright-director Jerome Lawrence, in collaboration with Robert E. Lee, created enduring works of the American theater, including Inherit the Wind; The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, which premiered at Ohio State and then went to become “the most widely produced play of our time” and Auntie Mame. 

Born in Ohio, Lawrence and Lee received many of the most prestigious awards in the theater, including the Donaldson Award, the Ohioana Award, Variety Critics Poll–both in New York and London, two Peabody Awards for distinguished Achievement in Broadcasting and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Theatre Association. Lawrence served on the Boards of Directors of the American Conservatory Theatre, the National Repertory Theatre, the Dramatist Guild, the Writers Guild of America and the Authors Guild of America. 

Committed to excellence in theater, Lawrence co-founded American Playwrights Theatre (headquartered at OSU) and co-founded and served as judge of the Margo Jones Award.  He received honorary doctorates from the College of Wooster, Fairleigh Dickinson University and The Ohio State University, where he served as visiting professor. He graduated cum laude from The Ohio State University. 

He was master playwright at New York University, and the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies and adjunct professor in the graduate school at the University of Southern California. He traveled throughout the world on missions of cultural exchange. Critics have called Lawrence’s Actor: The Life and Times of Paul Muni one of the best theater biographies of the century. 

Named to the national Theatre Hall of Fame in 1990, Jerome Lawrence passed away on February 29, 2004. He is survived by his nieces and nephew, Deborah, Joshua and Paula Robison, the family of his writing collaborator, Robert E. Lee, and a host of friends and colleagues.