Mark O'Donnell

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Mark O’Donnell
Born (1954-07-19)July 19, 1954
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died August 6, 2012(2012-08-06) (aged 58)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Relatives Steve O’Donnell (twin brother)

Mark O’Donnell (July 19, 1954 – August 6, 2012) was an American writer and humorist.

Early life[edit]

Harvard Lampoon's Ibis Mascot c.1888

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College in 1976. He was a member of The Harvard Lampoon, where he held the position of Ibis. He was the writer and librettist for three Hasty Pudding musicals for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals group. He was also a longtime editorial advisor to the Yale Record and taught a popular comedy-writing seminar at Yale University.


Mark won a 2003 Tony for Hairspray.

O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan shared the 2003 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical[1] and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical for their work on Hairspray, and they wrote the 2007 film adaptation. The pair also worked on another John Waters musical adaptation, Cry-Baby, for which they received a 2008 Tony nomination.[2]

O’Donnell’s novels include Getting Over Homer and Let Nothing You Dismay. Along with Bill Irwin, he wrote Scapin, a 1997 play adapted from the original by Molière.

A 1980 article he wrote for Esquire, "O'Donnell's Laws of Cartoon Motion," was both widely quoted ("1. Anybody suspended in space will remain suspended in space until made aware of its situation") and widely circulated by fans of cartoon physics.

O'Donnell was also a writer for the 1981-1982 season of Saturday Night Live, under original head writer Michael O'Donoghue. Additionally, he contributed to all three issues of George Meyer's Army Man.


O’Donnell was the identical twin of television writer Steve O’Donnell.


He died in 2012 after collapsing at his apartment building in Manhattan. He was 58.[3]


  1. ^ 2003 Tony Awards
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Hairspray Writer Mark O'Donnell Dies" (August 6, 2012)

External links[edit]