November 9, 1926

John Keyes Byrne, better known as the Irish playwright Hugh Leonard, was born in Dublin on this day in 1926. He was adopted as a young boy by the Keyes family and took their last name as his middle name. He worked as a civil servant and acted in and wrote plays for community theater on the side. His first professionally produced play was “The Big Birthday Suit” at the Abbey Theater in Dublin in 1956. As Hugh Leonard, Byrne has had three plays appear on Broadway; “The Au Pair Man” (1973), “Da” (1978), and “A Life” (1980.) “Da” was awarded with a Tony and Drama Desk Award and in 1988 it was made into a film starring Martin Sheen and Barnard Hughes.

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