Robert Edwin Lee (October 15, 1918 – July 8, 1994) was an American playwright and lyricist. With his writing partner, Jerome Lawrence, Lee worked for Armed Forces Radio during World War II; Lawrence and Lee became the most prolific writing partnership in radio, with such long-running series as Favorite Story among others.
Lee was born in Elyria, Ohio, the son of Elvira (née Taft), a teacher, and C. Melvin Lee, an engineer. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University. Lawrence and Lee turned to the live theatre in 1955 with Inherit the Wind, which remains among the most-produced plays in the American theatre. They are also well known for the plays Auntie Mame and First Monday in October. In 1965, Lawrence and Lee founded the American Playwrights' Theatre, a plan to bypass the commerciality of the Broadway stage, which foreshadowed the professional regional theatre movement. Their wildly successful play, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, was produced through the American Playwrights Theatre, and premiered at Lawrence's alma mater, Ohio State University, which also commissioned their play on the life and times of James Thurber, Jabberwock (1972).
The Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute, a theater research facility and archive was dedicated in Lawrence and Lee's honor at the Ohio State University in 1986.
Lee was survived by his wife, voice actress Janet Waldo (the voice of many well-known cartoon characters, including Judy Jetson), and his children, Jonathan Barlow Lee, the production manager for Center Theatre Group's Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and Lucy Lee, who teaches Clinical Management Communication at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, in Los Angeles.
^Eisler, Garrett B. (2007), "Lawrence, Jerome (1915–2004), and Robert E. Lee (1918–1994)", in Gabrielle H. Cody & Evert Sprinchorn, The Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama (Columbia University Press) 1: 801–802