David Rabe

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David Rabe
Born David William Rabe
(1940-03-10) March 10, 1940 (age 76)
Dubuque, Iowa
Nationality American
  • Loras College, B.A., 1962
  • Villanova University, M.A., 1968

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).


After leaving the Army, 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).

A collection of Rabe's manuscripts is housed in the Mugar Memorial Library, at Boston University.

Personal life[edit]

Rabe was born in Dubuque, Iowa, the son of Ruth (McCormick), a department store worker, and William Rabe, a teacher and meat packer.[1] 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.

Awards and honors[edit]





  • Recital of the Dog (1993)
  • The Crossing Guard (novelization of the screenplay by Sean Penn, 1995)
  • A Primitive Heart (2005)
  • Dinosaurs on the Roof (2008)
  • Mr. Wellington (children's book, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker, 2009)
  • Girl by the Road at Night: A Novel of Vietnam (2010)


  1. ^ "David Rabe Biography (1940-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2016-05-06. 
  2. ^ "2014 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for Master American Dramatist". pen.org. Retrieved August 1, 2014. 
  3. ^ Ron Charles (July 30, 2014). "Winners of the 2014 PEN Literary Awards". Washington Post. Retrieved August 1, 2014. 
  4. ^ NY Times review

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.