Edward Albee, probably the most important American playwright of his generation, has died. While I wouldn't say he quite matches the triumvirate of O'Neill, Williams and Miller, he's at the top of the next tier.
And he was truly a man of the theatre, sticking with it till the end, rarely venturing out to Hollywood or other literary endeavors. Of course, he comes from the Albee family that owned many vaudeville houses, so I guess the theatre was in his blood. (Actually, he was adopted, so maybe not his blood.)
The early work showed a lot of promise, but he was living in an age when true success still meant a Broadway production, and he got it with one of the most stunning debuts any playwright has ever had--Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? in 1962. The original production, starring Uta Hagen, Arthur Hill, Melinda Dillon and George Grizzard, was more than just a hit, it was a landmark in Broadway history. When the movie version came out in 1966, starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor--and his script intact--it was also a highly-respected hit. (I'm not a fan--I think it loses too much of its impact on screen).
His next original Broadway production, starring John Gielgud and Irene Worth, was the highly symbolic Tiny Alice, which has its champions, though I find it inert and pretentious. Better was his next production, A Delicate Balance, starring Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and Albee favorite Marian Seldes. It's about the existential terror felt by the upper middle class (sounds charming, no?). This play won the Pulitzer, though many feel it was given to make up for Virginia Woolf.
In the 1980s he had more productions of original work--The Lady From Dubuque (1980) and The Man Who Had Three Arms (1983)--but they flopped, and Albee started to seem like a figure from the past.
Then, in the 1990s, he wrote Three Tall Women, about three women of different ages (or three aspects of one woman). The play did not make it to Broadway, but became successful nevertheless, with major productions around the world. (It helped that it was cheap to stage and had good parts for women.) The play, more personal than usual, and easier to relate to than the previous decade's work, put Albee back on top. It also won him his third Pulitzer Prize.
That was his last original play on Broadway, but in his last decade or so the Great White Way featured no less than four revivals of his work. With plays that have great parts of actors, and still holds the stage, it's a good bet his work will live on for a long time.