Larry Kramer died of pneumonia Wednesday morning, his husband, architect David Webster said

By Claudia Harmata
May 27, 2020 01:36 PM
Catherine McGann/Getty

Famed playwright and AIDS activist Larry Kramer died on Wednesday morning in Manhattan, New York. He was 84.

His husband, architect David Webster, confirmed the news to The New York Times, telling the outlet that Kramer had succumbed to pneumonia, an illness he had fought for much of his adult life.

The Tony Award winner was a trailblazer for gay rights, and his early activism surrounding the AIDS crisis is credited with helping shape national health policy in the 1980s and '90s.

Kramer himself dealt with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and in 1981 he founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, which was the first service organization for people who were HIV-positive. He was later kicked out of the group for what his fellow directors saw as a too aggressive approach to activism, and so he went on to start Act Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power).

Larry Kramer
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When it came to his work in Hollywood, Kramer got his start at age 23 as a Teletype operator at Columbia Pictures. That gig eventually led him to doing rewrites and script polishes for the studio's story department, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 

From there, he received his first credit as a dialogue writer for the 1968 film Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush. The following year, he earned an Academy Award nomination for Women in Love in 1969, for his screenplay adaptation of the novel by D.H. Lawrence.

Larry Kramer
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Kramer is best known, however, for his 1985 autobiographical play, The Normal Heart, which chronicled the onset of the AIDS crisis through a writer named Ned Weeks who takes care of his closeted lover, Felix Turner, as he slowly dies from the disease. In 2014, the play was adapted into an HBO movie starring Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks.

Kramer also explored gay themes in his 1973 play Sissies' Scrapbook, as well as his first novel, 1978's Faggots.

Several celebrities and fans mourned the author's death on social media, sharing tributes in his honor.

Fellow playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote, "Don’t know a soul who saw or read The Normal Heart and came away unmoved, unchanged. What an extraordinary writer, what a life. Thank you, Larry Kramer."

"God Bless You, Larry Kramer. Everyone in the LGBTQ community owes you a debt of gratitude," Bravo host Andy Cohen shared.

Larry Kramer
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Daughter of former president Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, also wrote about Kramer's impact on her life. 

"Reading The Normal Heart as a kid changed my life and I was completely overwhelmed when I first met its author during its 2011 Broadway run," she wrote on Twitter. "Devastated to learn of Larry Kramer’s passing and holding all his loved ones in my heart. Rest in power."