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David Mamet

David MametAKA David Alan Mamet

Born: 30-Nov-1947
Birthplace: Flossmoor, IL

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish [1]
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Author
Party Affiliation: Republican [2]

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Glengarry Glen Ross

David Mamet is a potent and popular American playwright, screenwriter, director, and novelist. His father was a labor lawyer, his mother was a teacher, and they divorced when Mamet was 11. After that, he lived with his mother and sister. As a teen, he worked backstage at Chicago's Second City comedy club, and volunteered at a local playhouse. Mamet studied drama at Vermont's Goddard College and New York's Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre. He then returned to Chicago, working as artistic director of the famed Goodman Theatre and founding the St. Nicholas Theatre Company.

It is rare for one writer to achieve wide success in both plays and films, but Mamet's works on both stage and screen have arguably resonated deeper with wider audiences than any other American playwright of the late 20th or early 21st centuries. Mamet's characters are often plotting a doublecross, and the dialogue is more clever than you'd hear in real life, described as "a poetic impression of streetwise jargon". "Where am I from?" a swindler asks in Mamet's mazelike House of Games. "I'm from the United States of kiss my ass."

It was Mamet who took a stale TV cop show about prohibition and wrote the crackling Untouchables. "You wanna get Capone? Here's how you get him. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue!" His workplace drama, Glengarry Glen Ross, pits real estate agents against each other. Wag the Dog tells the ubercynical story of a U.S. President caught in a sex scandal, who then diverts media attention with a phony war. During the film's original release, it got a big boost at the box office -- and "wag the dog" became part of the popular lexicon -- when Bill Clinton ordered the bombing of Iraq as his sex scandal unfolded toward an impeachment vote.

Among Mamet's other memorable works: State and Main is an old-fashioned screwball comedy; Oleanna is a tense drama about sexual harassment that lets the audience see both sides; and The Winslow Boy is a riveting fact-based British drama about a boy accused of stealing a five shilling postal note. Sexual Perversity in Chicago was one of Mamet's first stage hits, adapted to the screen in the mid-80s -- not by Mamet -- as About Last Night. He wrote and directed a 1991 movie called Homicide, but had no connection to the mid-1990s TV series of the same name.

[1] Ohr HaTorah, Los Angeles, CA.

[2] Formerly in the Democratic Party. See Andrew Ferguson, "Converting Mamet: A Playwright's Progress", The Weekly Standard, 23 May 2011.

Father: Bernard Mamet
Mother: Lenore June Silver
Sister: Lynn Mamet
Brother: Tony Mamet (half brother)
Lindsay Crouse (actress, m. 1976, div., two daughters)
Daughter: Willa
Daughter: Zosia Mamet (actress, b. 2-Feb-1988)
Wife: Rebecca Pidgeon (actress, m. 1991, one daughter, one son)
Daughter: Clara
Son: Noah

    High School: Francis W. Parker School, Chicago, IL
    University: BA Literature, Goddard College, Plainfield, VT (1969)
    Teacher: Marlboro College (1970-71)
    Teacher: University of Chicago
    Teacher: Yale University (1976)

    Pulitzer Prize for Drama 1984 for Glengarry Glen Ross
    Tony 1987
    Draft Deferment: Vietnam 2-S
    Jewish Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Smoking

    Phil Spector (24-Mar-2013)
    Redbelt (7-Apr-2008)
    Spartan (31-Jan-2004)
    Heist (10-Sep-2001)
    State and Main (26-Aug-2000)
    The Winslow Boy (16-Apr-1999)
    The Spanish Prisoner (8-Sep-1997)
    Oleanna (4-Nov-1994)
    Homicide (May-1991)
    Things Change (21-Oct-1988)
    House of Games (11-Oct-1987)

    The Water Engine (24-Aug-1992)
    Black Widow (6-Feb-1987) · Herb

Author of books:
Some Freaks (1989, essays)

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