George Abbott (1887-1995), director, producer, writer, and actor, was one of Broadway's most multi-talented forces. Raised in Wyoming and Forestville, New York, he went to Harvard to study drama after graduating from the University of Rochester in 1911. He began acting and writing plays while at Harvard, finding success as an actor with Zander the Great (1923) and as a writer with The Fall Guy (1925). On Broadway, Abbott wrote, produced, and directed Lilly Turner (1932), The Boys from Syracuse (1938), and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1951). He wrote and directed Love 'Em and Leave 'Em (1926), Broadway (1928), The Pajama Game (1954), Damn Yankees (1955), Fiorello! (1959), and Flora the Red Menace (1965). In addition, Abbott directed Twentieth Century (1932), Pal Joey (1940), On the Town (1944), Call Me Madam (1950), Wonderful Town (1953), Once Upon a Mattress (1959), and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962). He directed and wrote the book for his final production, Music Is, in 1976. He also wrote the screenplays for All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), The Pajama Game (1957), and Damn Yankees (1958).
Abbott was nominated for eight competitive Tony Awards and won five, including three for Best Musical and two for Best Direction of a Musical. He also received the Tonys' Lawrence Langer Award (1976) and a Special Award (1987). Abbott was honored with an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on All Quiet on the Western Front, two Writers Guild Association Award nominations for Best Written American Musical (1958, 1959), and one Directors' Guild Association Award nomination for Best Director (1959). He was awarded the 1960 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Fiorello!, was named a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1982, and was also presented with two honorary doctorates.