Leonard Melfi Was Shining Star of Off-Broadway Theatre Movement
Police Gazette To Publish Book About Leonard’s Life and Strange Death Written by His Brother
In October 2011, the 10-year anniversary of the death of famed playwright Leonard Melfi, we began a nine-part series in the local Police Gazette print edition on the mysteries surrounding Leonard’s disappearance and demise. Even at that time, 10 years later, the lawsuit against the New York City hospital responsible for Leonard’s death still had not been resolved. Now, finally, it has. This month a Manhattan Supreme Court judge found that Mount Sinai Hospital, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, committed negligence and medical malpractice in the handling of Leonard. But this doesn’t begin to describe the bizarre journey Leonard took between when he fell in his New York apartment on October 28, 2001, and his body reached its final resting place at Calvary Cemetery just outside Binghamton, NY, on April 18, 2002.
In a scene that could have been from Inside Llewyn Davis, Leonard Melfi strolls through Greenwich Village in the early 1960s. Edward Albee described it as “a wild and vital time, and no one was more vital than Leonard.”
Born and raised in Binghamton, Leonard made his way to the vibrant New York City art and performance scene as a young man where he blossomed. Theatre critics regularly place him along with Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, and Lanford Wilson as the greatest American avant-garde playwrights of the time. He wrote a segment—with Shepard, John Lennon, Samuel Beckett, and others—for Oh! Calcutta!, the longest-running revue in Broadway history. His one-act play “Birdbath” continues to be produced all over the world.
The nine-part series that appeared in the Police Gazette was written mostly by Leonard’s brother John. Now with the legal case resolved, John Melfi is turning his attention to a book that will not only expand on the series already published, but include a never-before published play of Leonard’s. Look for the book from the Police Gazette Publishing House later this year.