d. December 20, 1961
American playwright and theatre director, best known for his interpretations of musical theater on Broadway.
Hart married Kitty Carlisle on August 10, 1946; they had two biological children (the third pregnancy miscarried). Nonetheless, the longtime bachelor was known to be gay by many of his own friends and reportedly spent much time in therapy regarding his attraction to men. He also had bipolar disorder which, along with his feelings about his sexual orientation, caused tremendous mood swings. Carlisle did ask him if he was gay before they married and his response was that he was not. Prior to his marriage, one of his lovers was Gordon Merrick, whom he met when Merrick was acting in the original Broadway production of The Man Who Came to Dinner. Author William McBrien, in his biography of Cole Porter, stated that Hart frequented the Ritz Bar in Paris, a known hangout for gays and lesbians in the 1930s.
Although he wrote with great humor, as in the 1939 comedy, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Hart led a life that was often devoid of smiles. He suffered from long bouts of depression. Once, he had a nervous breakdown before the opening of one of his plays. His illness became national news. He isolated himself and slowly recovered, later calling the period of his illness his "siege," a part of the writer's life about which little has been written.
The main reason for the secrecy is Hart's surviving widow, Kitty Carlisle Hart, an actress and game show participant who, as a remnant of New York's powerful showbiz society, chose to keep it secret. She has often declined cooperation with Hart's numerous biographers and has reportedly implored friends to do the same. The reason for her non-cooperation is that, although fathering two children, Hart was gay. For the first few decades of his career in the theater, he was forced to live beneath the strain of carrying on two divergent lifestyles, an uneasy task that left the writer confused and depressed.