David Rabe

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David Rabe
Born David William Rabe
(1940-03-10) March 10, 1940 (age 75)
Dubuque, Iowa, U.S.
Occupation Playwright, screenwriter

David William Rabe (born March 10, 1940) is an American playwright and screenwriter. He won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1972 (Sticks and Bones) and also received Tony award nominations for Best Play in 1974 (In the Boom Boom Room), 1977 (Streamers) and 1985 (Hurlyburly).

Personal life[edit]

Rabe was born in Dubuque, Iowa, the son of Ruth (née McCormick), a department store worker, and William Rabe, a teacher and meat packer.[1] He is Catholic.[2] He attended Roman Catholic schools in Dubuque, and graduated from Loras College, a Catholic liberal-arts college.

He began graduate studies in theater at Villanova University, but dropped out and was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1965. He served until 1967, spending his last eleven months of service in Vietnam.

Rabe was married to actress Jill Clayburgh from 1978 until her death November 5, 2010. He has two children with Clayburgh, actress Lily Rabe and Michael Rabe. He has one son, Jason Rabe, from his first marriage.


After leaving the service, Rabe returned to Villanova, studying writing and earning an M.A. in 1968. During this time, he began work on the play Sticks and Bones, in which the family represents the ugly underbelly of the Nelson family when they are faced with their hopeless son David returning home from Vietnam as a blinded vet.

Rabe is known for his loose trilogy of plays drawing on his experiences as an Army draftee in Vietnam, Sticks and Bones (1969), the Tony Award-winning The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel (1971), and Streamers (1976). He has also written Hurlyburly (both the play and the screenplay for the film version), and the screenplays for the Vietnam War drama Casualties of War (1989) and the film adaptation of John Grisham's The Firm (1993).

Awards and honors[edit]





  • Recital of the Dog (2000)
  • A Primitive Heart (2005)
  • Dinosaurs on the Roof (2008)
  • Girl by the Road at Night (2010)


External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Lahr, John (24 November 2008). "The Critics: Life and Letters: Land of Lost Souls". The New Yorker 84 (38): 114–120. Retrieved 16 April 2009.  "David Rabe's America"
  • Radavich, David. "Collapsing Male Myths: Rabe's Tragicomic Hurlyburly." American Drama 3:1 (Fall 1993): 1-16.
  • Radavich, David. "Rabe, Mamet, Shepard, and Wilson: Mid-American Male Dramatists of the 1970s and '80s." The Midwest Quarterly XLVIII: 3 (Spring 2007): 342-58.