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General News    H4'ed 4/27/19

Author of 'Children of a Lesser God,' Dramatist and educator Mark Medoff dies at 79

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Medoff taught at NMSU for 50+ years, headed the Theatre Arts department, co-founded NMSU's American Southwest Theatre; taught at Florida State University, Houston, Oklahoma U. During his NMSU years, Medoff wrote 'When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder?' and won a Drama Desk and Obie award in 1974. 

This was followed by 'Children of a Lesser God,' which won the 1980 Tony award about employees at a school for the deaf: a deaf custodian and a hearing speech teacher, whose conflicting ideologies on speech and deafness create tension and discord in their developing romantic relationship, adapted into film starring actress Marlee Matlin for which she won an Academy Award, the only deaf actress to receive the honor.

“He insisted and fought the studio that the role be played by a deaf actor; I would not be here as an Oscar winner if it weren’t for him,” Matlin tweeted in tribute. “RIP Dear Mark.”

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Dr. Medoff was always genuine and unpretentious despite his fame. The fact that he chose to remain in Las Cruces speaks volumes about this brilliant playwright and professor who could have lived and worked in any great metropolis. As a young journalism undergraduate at NMSU, I interviewed him for an article in the student newspaper when his play "Children of a Lesser God" won the Tony Award. I was a bit nervous about interviewing someone whom I considered to be a luminary in his field, but his down-to-earth personality put me at ease. Condolences to the family of Dr. Medoff.

Submitted on Saturday, Apr 27, 2019 at 2:47:33 AM

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Stephen Fox

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Mark was a personal friend of mine, from the early days of my gallery in Santa Fe starting in 1980, one of my first customers.


What an incredible gift of creativity he shared with the audiences for his plays, with his colleagues, and with his students of drama in several universities.


It was a honor to know him, and a true inspiration as well.


One key insight into the depth of his principles throughout his life was that of his insisting to the film studios that a truly deaf woman had to play his key character; they capitulated and Marlee Matlin went on to win an Academy Award and much acclaim (and to date is the only deaf performer to have won an Academy Award.).



Marlee Matlin winning Best Actress William Hurt presenting Marlee Matlin with the Best Actress Oscar ? for her performance in .Children of a Lesser God. - the 59th Annual Academy Awards ? in ...
(Image by YouTube, Channel: Oscars)
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Submitted on Saturday, Apr 27, 2019 at 2:48:37 AM

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