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"West Side Story" playwright dies in New York City

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "West Side Story" and "Gypsy" playwright Arthur Laurents died in New York City on Thursday from complications of pneumonia, his agent said on Friday. Laurents was 93.

Laurents, also a director and screenwriter, won two Tony Awards -- a best musical award in 1968 for "Hallelujah Baby!" which he wrote, and a best musical director award in 1984 for "La Cage aux Folles."

"His contributions as a playwright, novelist, screenwriter and director are legendary and we mourn the loss of a great artist," said Laurents agent Jonathan Lomma in a statement.

"He lived in total happiness for 53 years with his partner (actor) Tom Hatcher who (died) five years ago," he said.

Laurents was also nominated for two Academy Awards in 1978 for writing 1977's "The Turning Point," starring Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft. He also wrote 1973's "The Way We Were," starring Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand.

But theater was his love. Successful Broadway revivals of both "West Side Story" and "Gypsy" have been staged in recent years and both productions were also Academy Award-winning and nominated films in the 1960s.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by Patricia Reaney)

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