William Hanley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
William Hanley
Born(1931-10-22)October 22, 1931
Lorain, Ohio, United States
DiedMay 25, 2012(2012-05-25) (aged 80)
Spouse(s)Shelley Post (1956–1961)
Pat Stanley (1962–1978; divorced); 2 children
RelativesJames Hanley, Gerald Hanley (uncles)
Ellen Hanley (sister)

William Hanley (October 22, 1931 – May 25, 2012) was an American playwright, novelist, and scriptwriter, born in Lorain, Ohio. Hanley wrote plays for the theatre, radio and television and published three novels in the 1970s. He was related to the British writers James and Gerald Hanley, and the actress Ellen Hanley was his sister.


William G. Hanley was born on October 22, 1931 Lorain, Ohio, one of three children of William Gerald and Anne Rodgers Hanley.[1] William Hanley, Sr. was born in Liverpool, England in 1899,[2] of Irish Catholic immigrants. He was a seaman prior to settling in the US, and then worked as a housepainter.[3] Shortly after Hanley's birth the family moved to Queens, New York. Hanley attended Cornell for a year, then served in the Army in the early 1950s, before enrolling at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, though he never pursued an acting career.[4] He worked as a bank clerk, mail clerk, factory worker, and book salesman while writing his early scripts.[5] William Hanley married Shelley Post, 1956 (divorced, 1961), and married Pat Stanley, 1962 (divorced, 1978).

The actress Ellen Hanley (1926–2007) was his sister. She is best known for playing Fiorello La Guardia's first wife in the 1959 Broadway musical "Fiorello!" The British novelist and playwright James Hanley (1897–1985) was his father William's brother. In addition to writing many novels James Hanley also wrote plays for the theatre, radio and television. Another brother was the novelist and script writer Gerald Hanley (1916–1992).[6]

William Hanley died May 25, 2012 after suffering a fall in his home in Ridgefield, Connecticut and was buried jn the family plot at Mapleshade Cemetery, next to his parents and sister.[7] He was 80.[5]


Hanley was a successful Broadway and off Broadway playwright in the 1960s. Howard Taubman wrote in The New York Times in 1962, that Hanley was "an uncommonly gifted writer." But the accolades, and a Tony nomination, did not provide commercial success. "Slow Dance" ran for 88 performances, the Off-Broadway plays had closed within a month.[5] However Hanley, subsequently he had a successful career in television, beginning with Flesh and Blood which was originally a stage play that Hanley sold in 1966, to NBC for $112,500, "at the time the most that television had paid an author for a single work".[5] Over a period of thirty years Hanley wrote more than two dozen TV scripts. He also published three novels in the 1970s.


He was nominated for Emmys five times and won twice: a 1984 ABC movie Something About Amelia and in 1988 for the mini-series The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank, which starred Paul Scofield, Mary Steenburgen and, as Anne, Lisa Jacobs.[8] Something About Amelia also won a 1984 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture made for Television.[9]


  • Blue Dreams. Delacorte Press, New York, 1971
  • Mixed Feelings. Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1972
  • Leaving Mount Venus. Ballantine Books, 1977

Stage plays[edit]

  • Whisper into My Good Ear. Cast Theater, New York, October 1, 1962
  • Mrs. Dally Has a Lover and Other Plays. October 1, 1962
  • Conversations in the Dark. Produced in Philadelphia, Pa. at Walnut Street Theatre, December 23, 1963
  • Slow Dance on the Killing Ground. Produced on Broadway at Plymouth Theatre, November 30, 1964; Greenwich Theatre, London, England: Opened 11 November 1991.[10]
  • Today Is Independence Day. First produced Berlin, Germany 1963; New York? September 22, 1965

Published plays (including anthologies)[edit]

  • Mrs Dally Has a Lover and Other Plays. New York: Dial Press, 1963. (Mrs Dally Has a Lover; Today is Independence Day; Whisper in My Good Ear).
  • Whisper in My Good Ear [and] Mrs. Dally Has a Lover; Two plays, Dramatists Play Service. 1963
  • Slow Dance on the Killing Ground. New York: Random House, 1964
  • No Answer. New York: Random House, 1968 (also in the anthology Collison Course—see below)
  • Flesh and Blood. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1968
  • The Best Plays of 1964-1965, edited by Otis L. Guernsey, Jr. Dodd, 1965
  • New Theater in America, Vol. 1. New York: Delta, 1965
  • Collision Course, edited by Edward Parone. New York: Random House, 1968
  • Best American Plays, Sixth Series, edited by John Gassner and Clive Barnes. New York: Crown Publishing, 1971


Plays for television[edit]

Radio play[edit]

  • A Country without Rain (1970)


  • 1963 Vernon Rice Award
  • 1965 John Gassner Award
  • 1988 Emmy: The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank. Outstanding Writing in a Miniseries or a Special
  • 1988 Edgar Award: Best Mystery TV Episode: Winner: Nutcracker: Money, Murder, and Madness[13]


  1. ^ Heves, Dennis (June 3, 2012). "William Hanley, Playwright and TV Writer, Dies at 80". The New York Times. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  2. ^ "James Hanley's Life" in James Hanley's The Closed Harbour. London: Oneworld Classics, 2009, p. 202
  3. ^ James Hanley, Broken Water: An Autobiographical Excursion. London: Chatto & Windus, 1937, p.130, 134, 140, 246; Lorain Public Library System, local authors, Lorain.lib.oh.us
  4. ^ Playbill.com
  5. ^ a b c d Hevesi, Dennis (June 3, 2012). "William Hanley, Playwright and TV Writer, Dies at 80". The New York Times.
  6. ^ The National Library of Wales has a few letters from William and Ellen Hanley to James Hanley. William Hanley, playwright. Letter from (1976), NLW 23132, f. 205. Ellen Hanley, actress. Letters from (1960–79), NLW 23132, ff. 194–204v
  7. ^ Ridgefield Press, 28 May 2012
  8. ^ Dennis Heves, "William Hanley, Playwright and TV Writer, Dies at 80. New York Times, June 3, 2012.
  9. ^ Golden Globe Awards
  10. ^ Cix.co.uk
  11. ^ Something About Amelia An ABC Theatre Presentation, emmys.com, Retrieved 27 September 2017
  12. ^ Ellen Foster#Television film
  13. ^ IMBd

External links[edit]