Robert Anderson
BornRobert Woodruff Anderson
(1917-04-28)April 28, 1917
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
DiedFebruary 9, 2009(2009-02-09) (aged 91)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Resting placeRoxbury Center Cemetery, Roxbury, Connecticut, U.S.
theatrical producer
EducationHarvard University
Years active1948–1992
Phyllis Stohl
(m. 1940; died 1956)
(m. 1959; div. 1978)

Robert Woodruff Anderson (April 28, 1917 – February 9, 2009)[1] was an American playwright, screenwriter, and theatrical producer. He received two Academy Award nominations for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, for the drama films The Nun's Story (1959) and I Never Sang for My Father (1970), the latter based on his play.[2]

Life and career

Anderson was born in New York City, the son of Myra Esther (Grigg) and James Hewston Anderson, a self-made businessman.[3] He was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, which he later said he found a lonely experience. While there he fell in love with an older woman, an event which later became the basis of the plot of Tea and Sympathy. Anderson also attended Harvard University, where he took an undergraduate as well as a master's degree.[4]

He may be best-remembered as the author of Tea and Sympathy. The play made its Broadway debut in 1953 and was made into a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film in 1956; both starred Deborah Kerr and John Kerr.

You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running, a collection of four one-act comedies, opened in New York in 1967 and ran for more than 700 performances. His other successful Broadway plays were Silent Night, Lonely Night (1959) and I Never Sang for My Father (1968).[5]

He wrote the screenplays for Until They Sail (1957), The Nun's Story (1959), and The Sand Pebbles (1966). He also wrote many television scripts, including the TV play The Last Act Is a Solo (1991) and the novels After (1973) and Getting Up and Going Home (1978).

He was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1981.[6]

Anderson was married to Phyllis Stohl from 1940 until her death in 1956 and to actress Teresa Wright from 1959 until their divorce in 1978. Anderson died of pneumonia on February 9, 2009, at his home in Manhattan, aged 91. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for seven years prior to his death.[7]


As a supporter for writers' rights in theatre, Anderson was a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and was elected president in 1971. He continued to serve the non-profit organization until 1973.

Selected credits





Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1960 12th Writers Guild of America Awards Best Written American Drama Nominated
32nd Academy Awards Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium Nominated
1967 24th Golden Globe Awards Best Screenplay Nominated
19th Writers Guild of America Awards Best Written American Drama Nominated
1971 23rd Writers Guild of America Awards Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium I Never Sang for My Father Won
43rd Academy Awards Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium Nominated


  1. ^ "Robert Woodruff Anderson (1917–2009)". Find a Grave. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  2. ^ Mitgang, Herbert (12 June 1988). "Robert Anderson: The Drama of Being a Dramatist". New York Times.
  3. ^ "Robert Anderson Biography -".
  4. ^ "Robert Anderson, Playwright of Tea and Sympathy, Dies at 91," The New York Times, February 10, 2009
  5. ^ Michael Kuchwara, "Robert Anderson, 'Tea and Sympathy' author, dies," AP, February 9, 2009
  6. ^ The New York Times, March 3, 1981 - 26 Elected to the Theater Hall of Fame
  7. ^ "Biodata in Playbill magazine". Archived from the original on 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
  8. ^ I'm Herbert, Dramatists Play Service. Retrieved 2014-06-24.