Artist Bio

Robert E. Lee

Playwright Robert E. Lee was educated in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio, then at Northwestern and Ohio Wesleyan Universities. With colleague-collaborator Jerome Lawrence, Lee’s place in American theater history is assured by a prodigious volume of work, including the contemporary theater classics Inherit the Wind, First Monday in October, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, Auntie Mame and 30 other major theater productions. 

Co-founder of the Armed Forces Radio Service, American Playwrights Theatre and the Margo Jones Award, Lee was very much involved in both the academic and professional theater scene as dramatist, director and teacher. He received an Honorary Doctor of Literature from, a Doctor of Letters from the College of Wooster and a Doctor of Humanities from The Ohio State University. 

For almost two decades he was adjunct professor of playwriting at UCLA and served on the Executive Writers Committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He maintained a lifelong commitment to new plays and new playwrights. 

The plays of Lawrence and Lee have been translated and performed in 32 languages throughout the world. 

On the home front, Lawrence and Lee wrote the opening play for the Thurber Theatre at OSU: Jabberwock: Improbabilities Lived and Imagined by James Thurber in the Fictional City of Columbus, Ohio. 

Lawrence and Lee were named Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center in 1990. Their final collaboration Whisper in the Mind was produced later that year at Arizona State University, and received its professional premiere at the Missouri Repertory Theatre in 1994. Robert E. Lee died July 8, 1994, in Los Angeles. He is survived by his wife, actress Janet Waldo Lee and his daughter and son, Lucy and Jonathan Lee.