Walter Kerr: The Pulitzer Prize Winner

Pulitzer Prize – Walter Kerr, one of the world’s most prolific playwrights, was born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1913. 

Education and Early Success

After a two-year visit to DePaul University, he graduated from Northwestern University, where he earned his master’s degree in 1939. For 11 years he was an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at the School of Dramatic Arts in Chicago, where, in addition to writing plays, he also adapted classics, directed and lectured in dramaturgy, directing and theatre history. He wrote and directed a musical biography of “American Songs,” which premiered on Broadway in 1944, and wrote or directed the musical adaptation of the novel “The Old Man and the Sea” in 1945. 

Personal Life

Kerr was born in Evanston, Illinois, and earned a B.A. and M.A. from Northwestern University, a B., A. and an M, A. from the University of Chicago. After graduating from St. George’s H.S. University, he studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the New York Public Theater. On August 9, 1943, he married Jean Kerr (nee Collins) and while writing a review for Commonwealth Weal in 1951, he became a member of the board of directors of the Public Theatre, one of America’s most prestigious theatre organizations. His studies were at St George’s, St. Paul’s and St. John’s University in Chicago and Columbia University. 

He was also a writer, and together they wrote the musical Goldilocks (1958), which won two Tony Awards. David Niven portrayed him in the film adaptation of his novel “Daisies Don’t Eat,” based on his best-selling novel “Daisies.” 

In 1943 he married the author Jean Collins, with whom he wrote the revue “Touch and Go” in 1949, which he also directed. In 1954 he returned to Broadway, where he directed the comedy “The King of Hearts,” which he wrote with Jean. Kerr ventured back to Broadway in 1958, where he and his wife wrote the musical “Goldilocks.” 

Kerr was known for his musically ambitious musicals, and many of the shows he criticized were by Stephen Sondheim. He was not looking for laughter on the way to tears, but for humor and love of music and art. 

Career as a Critic

Kerr’s career as a theater critic began in 1949 with the Catholic publication Commonwealth Weal, and in 1978 he received a Pulitzer Prize for critical work. In 1953 he became a playwright at the New York Herald Tribune, where he remained until the newspaper was folded in 1966. He then embarked on a long and successful career in publishing, which he continued until his retirement in 1983. 


He is the author of 10 books, including “How not to Write a Play” and “The Art of the Playwright,” a collection of essays on the art of theater. He was honored on March 1, 2009, when the Walter Kerr Theater at the New York Public Theater, which had been restored to its original design, was renamed the Walter Kerr Theater in his honor. 

He is also the author of several books dealing with theatre and cinema in general. American writer and theatre critic, member of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the New York Public Theater. Kerr died in 1996 at the age of 83 and is considered one of America’s most influential and influential theater critics. 

Kerr was also a keen critic of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, a play that demanded thousands of readings, but as he wrote: “It has its own offer. In his review of the 1973 revival of Candide, he wrote that it was “a most satisfying resurrection. But there is a veil rather than a revelation, and in the review, he writes that “it is not at all a resurrection, but a retelling of an old story with a new story. 


The Walter Kerr Theater was renamed in his honor in 1990 and has been known as the John F. Kennedy Center since it opened in the late 1970s. 

The Ritz Theater used the Shubert family design by Herbert J. Krapp, which was designed by him and his wife Mary, their son Herbert Jr.

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