Bernard Pomerance, Playwright Of ‘The Elephant Man,’ Has Died : The Two-Way : NPR

Bernard Pomerance, playwright of “The Elephant Man,” in New York in 1979, the year the play debuted.

David LeShay/AP


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David LeShay/AP

Bernard Pomerance, playwright of “The Elephant Man,” in New York in 1979, the year the play debuted.

David LeShay/AP

Bernard Pomerance, who wrote the Tony Award-winning play The Elephant Man about the life of a seriously deformed man in Victorian England, has died at the age of 76, according to his agency.

His agent Alan Brodie told The Associated Press that Pomerance “died Saturday of complications from cancer at his home in Galisteo, New Mexico.”

Pomerance’s 1979 play tells the true story of Joseph Merrick, referred to in the play as John Merrick, who leaves a traveling “freak show” and is admitted to a London hospital by a surgeon. It documents his rise to fame in London high society and eventual death at the age of 27.

Pomerance portrays Merrick as having an almost “magical innocence,” The New York Times wrote in its original Broadway review of the play. The newspaper described it as a “haunting parable about natural man trading his frail beauty and innocence for the protection and prison of society.”

It has been played 916 times, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The role of Merrick has attracted some of Hollywood’s most prominent leading men, such as Bradley Cooper, David Bowie and Billy Crudup.

In a 2013 interview with Fresh Air, Cooper describes convincing his graduate school to stage the play – and his eagerness to reprise the role 10 years later.

Merrick “just had this will to survive that is just…

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