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In 2009, Laurents directed a revised version of “West Side Story,” giving the show a new dose of realism by having much of the dialogue in Spanish. “There are not many creative writers who can take that chance. But it has to live,” said LuPone.

His credits as a stage director also include “I Can Get It for You Wholesale,” best remembered as the musical that introduced a 19-year-old Streisand to Broadway, and “La Cage Aux Folles” (1983), the smash Jerry Herman musical _ based on a French play of the same name by Jean Poiret _ that ran for four years.

“His name is synonymous with the great Broadway musicals and plays of our time,” Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League, said Friday.

Laurents was born in Brooklyn, the son of an attorney. He attended Cornell University and after graduation began writing radio plays including scripts for such popular series as “Dr. Christian” and “The Thin Man.” While serving in the Army during World War II, Laurents wrote military training films as well as scripts for such radio programs as “Army Service Forces Present” and “Assignment Home.”

His wartime experiences led to his first Broadway play, “Home of the Brave,” which opened in December 1945. The military drama about anti-Semitism had a short run but later was made into a well-received movie in which the theme was changed to racial rather than religious prejudice.

In Hollywood after the war, Laurents wrote or co-wrote scripts for such films as “Rope” (1948), “Caught” (1949) and “Anna Lucasta” (1949), and he had an uncredited contribution to “The Snake Pit” (1948), a look at mental illness underlined by Olivia de Havilland’s harrowing lead performance

Laurents returned to the New York theater in 1950 with “The Bird Cage,” a drama about a nightclub owner. It quickly flopped despite a cast that included Melvyn Douglas and Maureen Stapleton.

Two years later, he had one of his biggest successes, “The Time of the Cuckoo,” a rueful comedy about a lonely woman who finds romance in Venice with an already married Italian shopkeeper. “Cuckoo” provided Shirley Booth with one of her best stage roles and was later made into the movie “Summertime,” starring Katharine Hepburn.

In 1966, Laurents reworked “Cuckoo” as a musical, retitled “Do I Hear a Waltz?” It had music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Sondheim. The following year, he wrote the book for the musical “Hallelujah, Baby!” The show, starring Leslie Uggams and with a score by Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, won the best-musical Tony Award in 1968.

Laurents‘ biggest film successes occurred in the 1970s, first as screenwriter for “The Way We Were,” the 1973 movie about lovers pulled apart by the ideological conflicts of the McCarthy period of the late 1940s and 1950s.

He also wrote the script for “The Turning Point” (1977), “Anastasia” (1956) and the unsuccessful “Bonjour Tristesse” (1958).

Laurents was not immune to stage failure, either. “Anyone Can Whistle,” his 1964 collaboration with Sondheim, lasted only nine performances on Broadway. Yet thanks to its original cast recording featuring Angela Lansbury and Lee Remick, the show developed a cult following among musical-theater buffs.

In 1991, Laurents directed the musical “Nick and Nora,” which he called “the biggest and most public flop of my career.” Based on Dashiell Hammett’s famous “Thin Man” detective couple _ Nick and Nora Charles _ the show played nearly two months of preview performances before finally opening _ and closing _ in less than a week. This year, its dubious record for having the longest preview period on Broadway was beaten by “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”

Last year, he established an award for emerging playwrights through the Laurents-Hatcher Foundation, named in honor of Tom Hatcher, an aspiring actor who became his partner. The couple remained together for 52 years until Hatcher’s death in 2006. Laurents‘ play “Two Lives” was written about their relationship.

In recent weeks, Laurents had finished work on a new play and had reportedly concluded negotiations with a major studio for a new feature film version of “Gypsy” with Streisand in the lead.

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