Search - List of Books by Mel Gussow
"Though the clown is often deadpan, he is a connoisseur of laughter." -- Mel Gussow
Melvyn (Mel) Hayes Gussow (pronounced GUSS-owe; born December 19, 1933 — died April 29, 2005) was an American theater critic who wrote for The New York Times for 35 years.
Total Books: 25
Gussow, who was born in New York City to parents Donald and Betty Gussow was born Jewish, of Lithuanian descent. He grew up in Rockville Centre, located in the Town of Hempstead, Long Island, New York; his younger brother is Paul Gussow. He attended South Side High School. He attended Middlebury College, where for some time he served as editor of The Campus and was graduated in 1955 with a B.A. in American literature. He earned an M.A. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1956.
After two years in the U.S. Army as a newspaper writer for The Army Heidelberg, he was hired by Newsweek, where he became a movie and theater critic. His first review of a Broadway play was for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1962. This review began a life-long relationship with the play's author, Edward Albee, concluding with Gussow's 1999 biography of the playwright entitled Edward Albee: A Singular Journey. In 1963 he married Ann Meredith Beebe and converted to Christianity.
Gussow joined the New York Times in 1969, writing more than 4,000 of the newspaper's reviews and articles. He authored eight books including a series of four which were considered "conversations" with playwrights Arthur Miller, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, and Tom Stoppard. Times arts reporter Jesse McKinley notes that Gussow's interview collections became "staples of college drama curriculums and the libraries of gossip-loving theater fans."
He kept working until April 6, 2005, just three weeks before his death, writing at that time an obituary along with New York Times colleague Charles McGrath about Canadian-born Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Saul Bellow.
In 2008, Gussow was inducted posthumously into the American Theater Hall of Fame at the same time as actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein, the actors John Cullum, Lois Smith and Dana Ivey, the director Jack O'Brien, the playwright Peter Shaffer, and the librettist Joseph Stein.
In the late 1960s and in 1970 he and his wife Ann and son Ethan, as well as actor Dustin Hoffman, and several other families lived in apartments in a townhouse at 16 West 11th Street. On March 6, 1970, the townhouse next door to theirs at number 18 was destroyed by an explosion of dynamite that killed three and injured two members of the Weathermen organization. In an article written by Gussow on the 30th anniversary of the disaster, Gussow reported an FBI finding that "had all the explosives detonated, the explosion would have leveled everything on both sides of the street." Gussow and his family remained residents of Greenwich Village after the explosion, maintaining their home on West 10th Street.
Gussow died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital from bone cancer at the age of 71.