Israel Horovitz

For those of a similar name, see Israel Horowitz (disambiguation).
Israel Horovitz
Born (1939-03-31) March 31, 1939
Wakefield, Massachusetts
Occupation Playwright, director, actor
Spouse Doris Keefe
Gillian Adams
Elaine Abber
Children 6

Israel Horovitz (born March 31, 1939) is an American playwright, director, and actor.

Early life and career

Horovitz was born to a Jewish family[1][2] in Wakefield, Massachusetts, the son of Hazel Rose (née Solberg) and Julius Charles Horovitz, a lawyer.[3] At age 13, he wrote his first novel which was rejected by Simon & Schuster but complimented for its “wonderful, childlike qualities.”[1] At age 17, he wrote his first play entitled The Comeback which was performed at nearby Suffolk University[1] beginning his career as a playwright. In 2014 he published a collection of poems Heaven and Other Poems through Three Rooms Press.[4][5]

Theatre career

Horovitz has written more than 70 produced plays, many of which have been translated and performed in more than 30 languages worldwide.[6] Among Horovitz's best-known plays are Line (a revival of which opened in 1974 and is NYC's longest-running play, now in its 40th year of continuous performance at Off-Off-Broadway's 13th Street Repertory Theatre),[7][8] Park Your Car in Harvard Yard, The Primary English Class, The Widow's Blind Date, What Strong Fences Make, and The Indian Wants the Bronx, for which he won the Obie Award for Best Play, and which featured two yet-undiscovered future film stars: John Cazale and Al Pacino.

Horovitz divides his time between the USA and France, where he often directs French-language productions of his plays. On his 70th birthday, Horovitz was decorated by the French government as Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.[9] The 70/70 Horovitz Project was created by NYC Barefoot Theatre Company to celebrate Horovitz's 70th birthday. During the year following March 31, 2009, 70 of Horovitz's plays had productions and/or reading by theatre companies around the globe, including the national theatres of Nigeria, Benin, Greece and Ghana. He is the most-produced American playwright in French theatre history.[10]

Horovitz is Founding Artistic Director of the Gloucester Stage Company in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a theatre he created in 1979 and served as its Artistic Director for 28 years. He also founded The New York Playwrights Lab in 1975, and still serves as the NYPL's Artistic Director. He is co-director of Compagnia Horovitz-Paciotto, an Italian theatre-company that produces Horovitz's plays, exclusively. In addition, Horovitz is one of a select group of non-actors awarded membership in The Actors Studio.[11]

Horovitz had a long-term friendship with Irish playwright Samuel Beckett and often found in Beckett a thematic and stylistic model and inspiration for his own work.[12] Horovitz has recently been working with The Byre Theatre of St Andrews, Scotland.[13][14]

Film career

His screenplay for the 1982 film Author! Author!, starring Al Pacino, is a largely autobiographical account of a playwright dealing with the stress of having his play produced on Broadway while trying to raise a large family. Other Horovitz-penned films include the award-winning Sunshine, co-written with Istvan Szabo (European Academy Award - Best Screenplay), 3 Weeks After Paradise (which he directed and in which he starred), James Dean, an award-winning biography of the actor, and The Strawberry Statement (Prix du Jury, Cannes Film festival, 1970), a movie adapted from a journalistic novel by James Simon Kunen that deals with the student political unrest of the 1960s. Horovitz adapted his stage-play My Old Lady for the screen, which he directed in summer, 2013, starring Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott-Thomas and Dominique Pinon. The film was released in cinemas worldwide in fall of 2014.


He has won numerous awards for his work, including two Obies, the Drama Desk Award, The European Academy Award - Best Screenplay (for Sunshine),The Sony Radio Academy Award (for Man In Snow on BBC-Radio 4).[15] He also won an Award in Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters; The Governor of Massachusetts' Leadership Award;[16] The Prix de Plaisir du Theatre; The Prix Italia (for radio plays); The Writers Guild of Canada Best Screenwriter Award; The Christopher Award; the Elliot Norton Prize;[17] a Lifetime Achievement Award from B'nai B'rith; the Literature Prize of Washington College; an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Salem State College; Boston Public Library's Literary Lights Award;[18] the Walker Hancock Prize, and many others.

Personal life

He has been married three times:



Year Film Role Notes
1969 Machine Gun McCain (film) Dialogue as Israel Horowitz
1969 ITV Saturday Night Theatre (TV series) - "It's Called the Sugar Plum" Writer
1970 The Strawberry Statement Screenplay Prix du Jury, Cannes Film Festival, 1970
1971 NET Playhouse (TV series) - "Foul!/Actor's Choice" (Segment: "Play for Trees") Writer
1971 Believe in Me Screenplay
1981 La Poube (TV movie) (play) Writer
1982 Author! Author! Playwright
1991 The General Motors Playwrights Theater (TV series) - "Its Called the Sugar Plum" (play) Writer
1997 North Shore Fish (TV movie) Screenplay
1999 Sunshine Co-writer, screenplay European Academy Award - Best Screenplay
2001 James Dean Writer
2002 3 Weeks After Paradise Director and actor
2007 Rats (video short) Writer
2007 "Security" (short) Writer
2009 New York, I Love You (adaptation/segments "Jiang Wen", "Shunji Iwai") Translations written by
2014 My Old Lady Writer and director


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Wackfield Observer: "Israel Horovitz on art and religion" by Susan Jacobs September 5, 2007
  2. 1 2 3 4 Interfaith family: "Interfaith Celebrities: Oscar Time! Jewish/Interfaith Nominees" By Nate Bloom February 21, 2012
  3. "Israel Horovitz Biography (1939-)". Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  6. "Biography". American Theatre Wing. Retrieved 2007-08-01.
  7. Line photos and history
  8. Line at 13th Street Theatre
  9. "Playwright Honored by France". Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
  10. "Playwright Honored by France". Washington Square Arts. Retrieved 2010. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  11. Garfield, David (1980). "Strasberg Takes Over: 1951-1955". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 93. ISBN 0-02-542650-8. Various directors and playwrights, including Frank Corsaro, Martin Fried, Jack Garfein, Michal V. Gazzo, Charles Gordone, Israel Horovitz, Arthur Penn, Eleanor Perry, Frank Perry, Sidney Pollack, Mark Rydell, Alan Schneider, and John Stix, have also been granted membership on the basis of their contributions to the life and work of The Actors Studio, as have certain other non-performers, such as Liska March and Carl Schaeffer.
  12. " / St. Patrick's Day 2000". 1995-12-31. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  13. "whats-on". 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  14. "Israel Horovitz Residency". The List. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  15. "Sony Radio Academy Award winners". Radionow. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  16. "In Honor of Israel Horovitz". Government Publishing Office. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  17. "1st Thru 9th Elliot Norton Awards: 1983-1991". Elliot Norton Awards. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  18. "Previous Years of Literary Lights (1997)". Boston Public Library. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  19. 1 2 The Jewish Journal: "How studio exec-turned-producer pitched ‘Moneyball’" by Naomi Pfefferman February 16, 2012
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