How did Terry Teachout die? Prolific essayist, 65, was 'a champion of theater'

Terry Teachout was a biographer, playwright, director, and drama critic for The Wall Street Journal


                            How did Terry Teachout die? Prolific essayist, 65, was 'a champion of theater'
Terry Teachout's theatrical criticism career began when he started writing reviews for the Kansas City Star (@ratemyskyperoom/Twitter)

Prolific New York-based biographer and essayist Terry Teachout died on Thursday, January 13, at a friend’s home in Smithtown, aged 65. The cause of death has reportedly not yet been determined. Teachout was born in 1956 and grew up in Sikeston, Missouri. His father was a hardware salesman and his mother a receptionist and secretary. A biographer, playwright, director, and drama critic for The Wall Street Journal, Teachout was a graduate of William Jewell College. He studied journalism and music.

His theatrical criticism career began when he started writing reviews for the Kansas City Star. He also wrote for The New York Daily News and National Review. Teachout's play 'Satchmo At The Waldorf', a renowned one-man-two-character play, was produced at The Westside Theatre. It was directed by Gordon Edelstein and starred John Douglas Thompson. 'Billy and Ma', his second play, premiered at Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach, Florida, in December 2017. The past year also saw directors like Richard Donner, controversial man Peter Bogdanovich leave the world. Most recently, fans of 'The Vampire Chronicles' were mourning the loss of author Anne Rice.

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In 2003, Teachout started writing drama reviews for the Wall Street Journal. His biographies of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, George Balanchine, and HL Mencken are globally appreciated. Teachout's famous memoir 'City Limits: Memories of a Small-Town Boy' details his upbringing in Sikeston, Missouri. In the memoir, he wrote that Sikeston was “still a place where people salute the flag and don’t ask for receipts, where everybody knows who your parents were and what they did for a living. It is narrow and kind and decent and good, and I am blessed to have been raised in its shabby, forgiving bosom.”

'Irreplaceable champion of the theater'

Social media mourned Teachout's death, with condolences and tributes pouring in. "The Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout, who has died at 65, was a man of honor, kindness, and a vast erudition he wore with unpretentious ease. His love for theater, and his eagerness to write about it, was inexhaustible. This is heartbreaking news," one user wrote. Another commented, "Terry Teachout was one of my favorite Twitter follows. He didn't know how to use it to be glib or cruel like you're supposed to. It was just great bits on old music, film, and shows, and bracingly earnest glimpses into his own grief and love(s). Think I only met him once but RIP."



 



 


"Terry Teachout wrote a lot of things. I’m not sure I ever read anything more moving than when he wrote about losing his wife. This passage equally describes the worlds loss of him," one user wrote sharing a passage. "This is shocking and terribly sad. A great critic and irreplaceable champion of the theater, the rare national critic who regularly covered regional houses all over the US. Also, just far kinder and more generous online than anyone else. RIP Terry Teachout," one user said, while another wrote, "Already the absence of Terry Teachout is making the world feel a little smaller, and way less intelligent. He understood both the practice and function of criticism better than most do nowadays. He honored both, consistently."



 



 



 

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