Early yearsWasserstein was born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, the daughter of Morris Wasserstein, a wealthy textile executive, and his wife, Lola (née Liska) Schleifer, who moved to the United States from Poland when her father was accused of being a spy."Wendy Wasserstein"
CareerWasserstein's first production of note was ''Uncommon Women and Others'' (her graduate thesis at Yale School of Drama, Yale), a play which reflected her experiences as a student at, and an alumna of, Mount Holyoke College. The play was workshopped at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in 1977, and a full version of the play was produced in 1977 Off-Broadway with Glenn Close, Jill Eikenberry, and Swoosie Kurtz playing the lead roles. The play was subsequently produced for PBS with Meryl Streep replacing Close. While at Yale, she co-wrote a musical with fellow student Christopher Durang, ''When Dinah Shore Ruled the Earth''. In 1989, she won the Tony Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play ''The Heidi Chronicles''. Her plays, which explore topics ranging from feminism to family to ethnicity to pop culture, include ''The Sisters Rosensweig'', ''Isn't It Romantic (play), Isn't It Romantic'', ''An American Daughter'', ''Old Money (play), Old Money'', and her last work, which opened in 2005, ''Third (play), Third''. During her career, which spanned nearly four decades, Wasserstein wrote eleven plays, winning a Tony Award, a Pulitzer Prize, a New York Drama Critics Circle Award, a Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award. In addition, she wrote the screenplay for the 1998 film ''The Object of My Affection'', which starred Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd. Wasserstein is described as an author of women's identity crises. "Her heroines—intelligent and successful but also riddled with self-doubt—sought enduring love a little ambivalently, but they did not always find it, and their hard-earned sense of self-worth was often shadowed by the frustrating knowledge that American women's lives continued to be measured by their success at capturing the right man." In a conversation with novelist A. M. Homes, Wasserstein said that these heroines are the starting points for her plays: "I write from character, so it begins with people talking, which is why I like writing plays." Wasserstein commented that her parents allowed her to go to Yale only because they were certain she would meet an eligible lawyer there, get married, and lead a conventional life as a wife and mother. Although appreciative of the critical acclaim for her comedic streak, she described her work as "a political act", wherein sassy dialogue and farcical situations mask deep, resonant truths about intelligent, independent women living in a world still ingrained with traditional roles and expectations. In 2007 she was featured in the film ''Making Trouble'', a tribute to female Jewish comedians, produced by the Jewish Women's Archive. Wasserstein also wrote the books to two musicals. ''Miami'', written in collaboration with Jack Feldman (songwriter), Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman, was presented at Playwrights Horizons in 1985–1986, and starred among others, Marcia Lewis, Phyllis Newman, Jane Krakowski, and Fisher Stevens.''Playbill: Playwrights Horizons: Miami'', Playbill Inc. New York, December 1985 ''Pamela's First Musical'', written with Cy Coleman and David Zippel, based on Wasserstein's children's book, received its world premiere in a concert staging at Town Hall in New York City on May 18, 2008. She wrote the libretto for the opera ''Best Friends'', based on Clare Boothe Luce's play ''The Women (play), The Women'', but it was uncompleted when she died. It was subsequently completed by Christopher Durang, set by Deborah Drattell, and is in development with Lauren Flanigan. In 1996 she appeared as the guest caller "Linda" on the ''Frasier'' episode Frasier (season 4), "Head Game". Wasserstein was named the President's Council of Cornell Women Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large in 2005.
Personal life and deathWasserstein gave birth to a daughter in 1999 when she was 48 years old.Smith, Dinita
Plays* ''Third (play), Third'' (2004, Washington, DC; 2005 Off-Broadway) * ''Welcome to My Rash'' (2004)Jones, Kenneth
Screenplays* ''The Object of My Affection'' (1998) * ''Tender Offer'' (1977)
Books* * * * *
PapersThe Wendy Wasserstein Papers, 1954–2006, are available to researchers at th
Awards* 1983: John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship * 1989: Pulitzer Prize for Drama – ''The Heidi Chronicles'' * 1989: Tony Award for Best Play – ''The Heidi Chronicles'' * 1989: Outer Critics Circle Award – ''The Heidi Chronicles'' * 1989: Drama Desk Award – ''The Heidi Chronicles'' * 1989: Susan Smith Blackburn Prize – ''The Heidi Chronicles'' * 1993: Outer Critics Circle Award – ''The Sisters Rosensweig'' * 1993: William Inge Award for Distinguished Achievement in American Theatre * 2006: American Theater Hall of Fame