Mark Medoff, Author of ‘Children of a Lesser God,’ Dies at 79

Mark Medoff, Author of ‘Children of a Lesser God,’ Dies at 79

Playwright opened the stage for deaf actors.

Mark Medoff, author of the Tony Award-winning play Children of a Lesser God,  died Tuesday at his home in Las Cruces, N.M., at the age of 79, National Public Radio reports.

Medoff, who wrote 30 plays, is best known for the groundbreaking Children of a Lesser God, which tells the story of a young deaf woman and her love affair with her speech teacher.

The play was inspired by Medoff’s encounter with deaf actress Phyllis Frelich, who told him there were no stage roles for deaf actresses. Medoff’s promised to write a play for her.

Children of a Lesser God ran for almost 900 performances on Broadway, with Frelich playing the part of Sarah Norman. She earned a Tony award in 1980 for best actress and her costar, John Rubenstein, won for best actor.

In 1986 the play was made into a movie starring Marlee Matlin and William Hurt, and Matlin won an Oscar for her portrayal of Sarah.

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