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COVID-19 Has Claimed Its 'Most Notable Victim'

Newser — Evann Gastaldo

A sad first for the world, which now has its "most notable victim of COVID-19," per Deadline. Acclaimed playwright Terrence McNally died at a Florida hospital Tuesday of complications due to the coronavirus, his spokesperson confirms.

He was 81. McNally, who wrote major works including Master Class, Ragtime, The Ritz, The Full Monty, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, and Love! Valour! Compassion!, had survived lung cancer and had chronic pulmonary disease.

Deadline calls McNally "one of the greatest American playwrights of his generation." He won four Tony Awards as well as the 2019 lifetime achievement Tony, one Emmy Award, and he had been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

McNally, who is survived by his husband, was hailed as writing landmark works in gay theater; the New York Times says he "dramatized and domesticated gay life," which "most mainstream theater had previously shunted into comic asides."

Among the topics confronted in his plays were AIDS and homophobia.

"Heartbroken over the loss of Terrence McNally, a giant in our world, who straddled plays and musicals deftly. Grateful for his staggering body of work and his unfailing kindness," tweeted Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Tweeted George Takei, "Terrence McNally was a legend among legends on Broadway. If you are an actor, there's a good chance you have performed one of his works. If not, you surely will in your career, he was that prolific and gifted. Ah, my heart breaks at the news!" NPR reports Manu Dibango, a jazz saxophonist who pioneered Afro-funk music, also died in Paris due to the coronavirus.

He was 86. As CNN notes, he was sampled by many, most famously Michael Jackson in "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'." Jackson used a hook from the 1972 song for which Dibango is perhaps best known, "Soul Makossa," singing the line as "mama-se, mama-sa, ma-makossa." Dibango sued Jackson over it, and they settled out of court.

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