Mark O’Donnell, the Tony winning writer behind Hairspray and Cry-Baby and author of the novel Getting Over Homer, died Monday morning in New York City. He was 58.

According to DNAinfo, O’Donnell apparently had a heart attack in the lobby of his Upper West Side apartment building. The Cleveland born writer had lived in the UWS for the last twenty years.

Mark O’Donnell, along with writer Thomas Meehan, won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Hairspray– which was based on the cult-classic John Waters film. O’Donnell was also the author of two books and a short story collection.

Huffington Post reports:

In 2003, O’Donnell and co-writer Thomas Meehan shared a Tony and a Drama Desk award for their musical adaptation of the 1988 John Waters film “Hairspray.” Both went on to work on the 2007 film version, as well as the 2008 Tony-nominated ‘Cry-Baby,’ another Waters’ adaptation. Though they weren’t credited as writers on the John Travolta-starring “Hairspray” movie, O’Donnell said many of the film’s lines were lifted straight from the Broadway book. The phrase “plastic little spastic,” is one he claimed as his own invention “with evident pride,” according to a Cleveland publication. The insult is turned on the musical’s queen bee Amber Von Tussle. It lives on in the internet’s densest social networks: MySpace members and Tumblr accounts go by the name “Plastic Little Spastic,” and it’s a go-to line for writers of “Hairspray” fan fiction.

Nearly a decade before his “Hairspray” fame, in 1996, O’Donnell began his career as a novelist with “Getting Over Homer,” a “pun-laden” love story set in the early years of the AIDS epidemic.

O’Donnell is survived by his identical twin brother Steve.

[via Huffington Post]

Photo via DNAInfo


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  • Ron Fritsch

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