Jerome Lawrence


Malibu resident and co-author of “Inherit the Wind” Jerome Lawrence died on Sunday from complications related to a stroke he suffered a year and a half ago. He was 88.

Lawrence collaborated with Robert E. Lee to create some of American theater’s most popular works, including the 1955 play, “Inherit the Wind,” which was based on the 1925 trial of John Scopes, the Tennessee school teacher convicted of teaching evolution. Their other famous works include “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail” and the musical “Mame.”

“He was the most wonderful person that any of us ever knew,” said Will Willoughby, who has lived in Lawrence’s home for the past 15 years. “He was a great man. He opened his house and his life to many people.”

An Ohio native, Lawrence worked as a reporter at the Wilkington News Journal and New Lexington Daily News in his home state. He joined CBS radio as a staff writer in 1939. He was also co-founder of Armed Forces Radio.

Lawrence had lived in Malibu since the 1940s, and he moved into his Las Flores Mesa home in 1970. It was burned down in the 1993 fire, and then rebuilt.

Lawrence, who graduated cum laude from Ohio State University, has served on the boards of directors of the American Conservatory Theatre, the National Repertory Theatre, the Dramatist Guild, the Writers Guild of America, and the Authors Guild of America. He was also named to the national Theatre Hall of Fame in 1990.

He was recognized with numerous awards, including the Donaldson Award, two Peabody Awards for distinguished Achievement in Broadcasting and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Theatre Association.