Tuesday, March 21, 1995 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Award-Winning Sidney Kingsley Wrote Plays With Social Messages


OAKLAND, N.J. - Playwright Sidney Kingsley, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1934 for the hospital drama "Men in White," died yesterday. He was 89.

Mr. Kingsley was known for tackling stories with serious social messages.

His early award-winning effort depicted the dilemma faced by doctors who must balance the demands of medicine with finding satisfaction in their personal lives. It ran on Broadway for 351 performances, was successfully produced in Europe and later was made into a hit movie.

The Pulitzer jury in 1934 voted unanimously for Maxwell Anderson's "Mary of Scotland" but was overruled by the advisory board of the Columbia School of Journalism, which makes award recommendations to the trustees of Columbia University.

In 1943, he received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for "The Patriots," a drama about Thomas Jefferson's conflict with Alexander Hamilton over the nature of democracy.

President Franklin Roosevelt honored Mr. Kingsley with an invitation to sit beside him at the unveiling of the Jefferson Memorial.

His 1935 play, "Dead End," which also became a hit movie, focused on the conditions of New York City's slums and was the first command performance of a play at the White House. It also was the basis for a presidential slum-clearance commission.

His 1951 novel on Soviet Communism, "Darkness at Noon," earned him a second New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

Mr. Kingsley began writing plays in high school, where his writing earned him a fellowship to Cornell University. In 1951, The American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters presented Mr. Kingsley with the Award of Merit Medal for Outstanding Work in the Drama. In 1986, the organizations gave him a Gold Medal for Drama.

He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1983.

In 1988, he received The William Inge Award for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theatre.

His wife, actress Madge Evans, died in 1981.

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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