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Timeline: Eugene O'Neill chronology

1877 - 1922 | 1923 - 1979  


Portrait of James O'Neill Jr. (Jamie) November: An alcoholic and broken man, Eugene's older brother Jamie O'Neill dies after being taken to a sanitarium in an advanced state of delirium tremens. Eugene will base his play A Moon for the Misbegotten, which he will write two decades later, on the last days of his brother's life.


November 11: Desire Under the Elms, about a woman who cements her bond to her stepson-lover by murdering their baby, premieres at the Greenwich Village Theater. The play by O'Neill has been called "the first important tragedy to be written in America."


O'Neill wins his third Pulitzer Prize for Strange Interlude, a play in nine acts that catalogues the life of a woman, from the death of her fiancé to her listless marriage. The play earns him $275,000 and later is made into a movie starring Norma Shearer.


Portrait of Carlotta Monterey O'Neill July 22: O'Neill marries Carlotta Monterey. She will remain his wife and protector until his death 24 years later.


O'Neill completes one of his most ambitious works, Mourning Becomes Electra, for which he adapts the Greek tragic myth Oresteia to 19th-century New England.


October 2: Ah, Wilderness!, the only comedy O'Neill will write, opens at the Guild Theatre on Broadway.


The Nobel Prize in literature awarded to Eugene O'Neill November 12: O'Neill is awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, becoming the first -- and only -- American dramatist to win the honor.


O'Neill writes The Iceman Cometh, one of his most acclaimed tragedies. Set in a dive bar in New York, the play concerns the "pipe dreams" of a group of drunken derelicts.


O'Neill completes Long Day's Journey Into Night, his best-known play, and arguably America's greatest, which dramatizes the embattled relationship of his parents during a wrenching day in the life of his family.


June 16: O'Neill's daughter Oona, at 18, marries film star Charlie Chaplin, who at 54 is about the same age as her father. Eugene O'Neill rejects the marriage and will never see his daughter again. Oona and Chaplin will have eight children together and remain married until his death in 1977.


November 29: Delivering the text of Long Day's Journey Into Night to Random House in New York, O'Neill insists that the play must not be published until 25 years after his death.


October 9: The Iceman Cometh opens on Broadway. It is the last Broadway production of an O'Neill play during his lifetime.


August: Shane O'Neill is arrested and pleads guilty to heroin possession, receiving a two-year suspended sentence. Eugene O'Neill never again has contact with his younger son.


September: Eugene O'Neill Jr. commits suicide. His note reads: "Never let it be said of O'Neill that he failed to finish a bottle." His father, in failing health, does not attend the funeral of his oldest child.


Portrait of Eugene O'Neill November 27: Suffering from a neuromuscular disorder that has robbed him of the ability to write, O'Neill dies in the Shelton Hotel in Boston. He has written 50 plays and seen 35 of them produced.


February: Yale University Press publishes Long Day's Journey Into Night. Carlotta takes the manuscript to Yale after Random House adheres to O'Neill's instruction not to publish the play until 25 years after his death.

November 7: Long Day's Journey Into Night opens at the Helen Hayes Theatre in New York. The playwright will be recognized with a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.


May 2: A Moon for the Misbegotten, O'Neill's play about his brother's final days, debuts at the Bijou Theater in New York.


More Stately Mansions, an unfinished manuscript O'Neill thought he had destroyed, is finished by others and produced on Broadway as -- misleadingly -- "a new play by Eugene O'Neill." Although it stars Ingrid Bergman, it is not a hit.


October 19: President Gerald Ford signs a bill into law authorizing the establishment of the Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site at Tao House in Danville, California. O'Neill wrote his masterpieces, The Iceman Cometh, Long Day's Journey Into Night and A Moon for the Misbegotten while living at the site from 1937 to 1944.


December 29: The Eugene O'Neill Society, a scholarly and professional organization devoted to the promotion and study of the playwright's life and works, is formed.

1877-1922 | 1923-1979  

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