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PASSINGS / Milan Stitt

Playwright and educator

March 14, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Milan Stitt, 68, a playwright best known for "The Runner Stumbles," a drama about a fateful encounter in 1911 between a Catholic priest and a nun, died Thursday of liver cancer at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York.

Since 1997 he had been head of the dramatic writing program at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama, which announced his death. He was chairman of the playwriting program at Yale University from 1987 to 1993.

Stitt reworked "The Runner Stumbles" many times before he settled on a version that was produced at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1974. A revision was staged in Stamford, Conn., the next year and then it landed on Broadway for an extensive run starting in 1976. It was later made into a Stanley Kramer film starring Dick Van Dyke and Kathleen Quinlan.

Stitt was born Feb. 9, 1941, in Detroit and studied at the University of Michigan, earning a bachelor's degree in 1963. He received a master's of fine arts in 1966 from Yale, where he began working on "The Runner Stumbles."

After college he held various writing, publicity and theater jobs. Following the success of "The Runner Stumbles," he worked as literary manager of the off-Broadway Circle Repertory Company.

Among his other writing credits were "Back in the Race" and "Labor Day."

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