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Tony-Winning Playwright Herb Gardner Dies

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Tony-Winning Playwright Herb Gardner Dies

New York (AP) -- Herb Gardner, author of such hit Broadway comedies as "A Thousand Clowns" and the Tony-winning "I'm Not Rappaport," has died. He was 68.

The playwright died of lung disease Wednesday at home, said his wife, Barbara Sproul.

Gardner had his first Broadway success in 1962 with "A Thousand Clowns," which starred Jason Robards and Sandy Dennis. It told the story of a nonconformist television writer who battled adoption authorities over custody of his young nephew. "Clowns" was later made into a movie starring Robards and Barbara Harris.

"I'm Not Rappaport" starred Judd Hirsch and Cleavon Little as two elderly men who met daily in Central Park. It was Gardner's biggest commercial success and won the best-play Tony Award in 1986.

Among his other Broadway plays were "The Goodbye People" (1968), "Thieves" (1974) and "Conversations with My Father" (1992).

Gardner also produced and wrote the screenplay and the 1971 Dustin Hoffman film, "Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying All Those Terrible Things About Me?"

Both "A Thousand Clowns" and "I'm Not Rappaport" had unsuccessful revivals on Broadway in recent years: "Clowns," starring Tom Selleck, in 2001 and "I'm Not Rappaport," with Hirsch and Ben Vereen, last year.

Born in Brooklyn, Gardner attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology and Antioch College. He also drew the comic strip "The Nebbishes" in the late 1950s.

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Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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