John Ford Noonan
John Ford Noonan Jr.

(1941-10-07)October 7, 1941
DiedDecember 16, 2018(2018-12-16) (aged 77)
Notable work"A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking"
AwardsPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

John Ford Noonan Jr. (October 7, 1941 – December 16, 2018) was an American actor, playwright, and screenwriter. He is best known for his Off-Broadway hit two-hander comedy "A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking." Noonan's first major production was the 1969 play "The Year Boston Won the Pennant";[1] he continued writing throughout the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, completing more than 30 plays in total.[2]

Noonan wrote occasionally for television in the 1980s. He shared the 1984 Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series with Tom Fontana and John Masius for an episode of the show St. Elsewhere;[3] he received a second Emmy nomination in 1985 for his TV adaptation of his play Men Need Help.[4][5]

Early life

Noonan was born in Connecticut on Oct. 7, 1941 to Rita née McGannon, a mathematics teacher, and John Noonan Sr., a jazz musician and doctor of dental surgery.[6] Noonan's place of birth has been variously reported as Stamford[3] and Greenwich.[7]

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University in 1964 and a Master of Arts in theater arts from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1966.[1] After graduating, Noonan briefly taught Latin, English, and history at a high school in Long Island.[8]


In 1969, his highly acclaimed Lincoln Center Theater production, The Year Boston Won the Pennant, won an Obie Award, and garnered a Theatre World Award nomination and a Pulitzer Prize nomination.[9][10] In the 1970s several of his plays were produced by Joseph Papp at The Public Theatre, including Older People, which won a Drama Desk Award; Rainbows For Sale, which won an Obie Award; Where Do We Go From Here?; Getting Through The Night and All the Sad Protestants.[11][12][13] The Club Champion’s Widow, starring Maureen Stapleton, was produced at the Robert Lewis Acting Company. A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking was produced at the Astor Place Theatre in New York, it starred Susan Sarandon and Eileen Brennan and ran for more than 800 performances.[14][4] His play, Some Men Need Help, was originally produced in New York City at the 47th Street Theatre; it starred Philip Bosco and Treat Williams.[15]

Stay Away a Little Closer starring the author's daughter, Jesse Sage Noonan, and When It Comes Early starring Harris Yulin and Kathleen Chalfant were both produced at the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City.[16][17]

Noonan wrote over 35 plays and was inducted into the French Society of Composers and Authors in 1989.[9]

He wrote for TV's Comedy Zone in the early 1980s and St. Elsewhere, for which his episode, The Women, won the 1982 Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. His second Emmy nomination was for his TV adaptation of his play Some Men Need Help.[4]


As an actor, he appeared on stage, notably in 1990 at the Actors’ Playhouse in New York, when he appeared in his own play, Talking Things Over with Chekhov, in which he played a playwright who comes home one night to find Anton Chekhov sitting in his rocking chair.[18] He also appeared in a number of films, including Uncle Freddy (2008), My Divorce (1997), Flirting with Disaster (1996), Adventures in Babysitting (1987), Forty Deuce (1982), Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976), and Septuagenarian Substitute Ball (1970). In the film God Has a Rap Sheet (2003), Noonan played the title character, God, who has taken on the persona of a former literature professor.[19] He also appeared in the TV series Bay State (1991).

Personal life and death

Noonan was married to Marcia Lunt, whom he divorced in 1968 and had one child with Lynn Cohen, who he was with in the late 70s. He had three children, a son (Chris Howell) and two daughters (Tracy Howell and Jesse Sage Noonan). He died at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey on December 16, 2018, at the age of 77 from heart failure.[6]



  1. ^ a b Bryer, Jackson R.; Hartig, Mary C. (2010). The Facts on File Companion to American Drama. Infobase Publishing. p. 392. ISBN 978-1-4381-2966-2.
  2. ^ "John Ford Noonan". Nordiska - international performing rights agency. Retrieved 2021-12-31.
  3. ^ a b Genzlinger, Neil (2018-12-19). "John Ford Noonan, 'Coupla White Chicks' Playwright, Dies at 77". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-12-31.
  4. ^ a b c Noonan, John Ford (1995). Music from Down the Hill: A Comic Drama in Two Acts. Samuel French, Inc.
  5. ^ Young, Glenn (2001). The Best American Short Plays 1998-1999. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 157. ISBN 978-1-55783-425-6.
  6. ^ a b Genzlinger, Neil (Dec 19, 2018). "John Ford Noonan, 'Coupla White Chicks' Playwright, Dies at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved Jul 12, 2021.
  7. ^ Noonan, John Ford (1988). All She Cares about is the Yankees. Samuel French, Inc. ISBN 978-0-573-63206-8.
  8. ^ "A Catcher of the Wry : John Ford Noonan is still fielding emotions to help him develop insight into characters that populate his plays". Los Angeles Times. 1989-03-19. Retrieved 2021-12-31.
  9. ^ a b Young, Glen, ed. (2001). The Best American Short Plays 1998-1999. Applause Theatre Books. p. 157. ISBN 9781557834256.
  10. ^ Guernsey, Otis (1987). Curtain Times: The New York Theatre, 1965-1987. Applause Theatre Books. p. 135. ISBN 9780936839240.
  11. ^ Noonan, John Ford (1988). All She Cares About is the Yankees. From the introduction by Samuel French, Inc. ISBN 9780573632068.
  12. ^ a b " website". Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  13. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. (2001). American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1969-2000. Oxford University Press. p. 47.
  14. ^ Rich, Frank (2 May 1980). "Stage: 'White Chicks'; Transplanted Texan". New York Times.
  15. ^ Rich, Frank (29 October 1982). "Theater: 'Some Men,' a Story of Alcoholism". New York Times.
  16. ^ Nemy, Enid (15 June 1990). "On Stage". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Marks, Peter (7 June 1997). "Making It to Dartmought With That Old Moxie". New York Times.
  18. ^ Gussow, Mel (13 May 1990). "Two Characters in Search of an Offstage Chekhov". New York Times.
  19. ^ Kehr, Dave (5 February 2003). "Film Review; Yet Another Celebrity Behind Bars". The New York Times.