In the late 1980s, King had some success with his play “The Night Hank Williams Died,” a pungent yet poignant tale of lost loves, missed opportunities, unfulfilled expectations and fatal mistakes that made it off-Broadway. It was set in 1952 at a bar and Williams’ music wails from the jukebox as a colorful group of characters try to find meaning with coarse Texas humor.
AP theater critic Michael Kuchwara wrote in a 1989 review that it was flawed but “has enough low-key charm and homespun humor to soften the hardest of hearts.”
King, Tune, Hall and Masterson came together in 1994 to create a sequel the flopped spectacularly. “The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public” closed after 28 previews and 16 performances.
Blaine said King had ups and downs in his writing career and that he didn’t necessarily consider his plays to be his most important works. “To him, his most important works are really his essays.”
King has three grown children by his first wife. His second wife died in 1972. He also had two grown children with his third wife, Blaine. A private funeral was planned and King would be buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, she said.
“I’m of the belief that sad endings, or bad endings, make for better drama than happy endings,” King told the AP in 1986. “And life really works more that way anyhow for most people.”
Associated Press Writer Brett Zongker in Washington contributed to this report.