Frank Galati, Academy Award-nominated and Tony Award-winning writer, director, actor and emeritus professor in the department of performance studies in the School of Communication, died Jan. 2. He was 79 years old.
Galati graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern in 1965 and earned his doctorate in interpretation (now performance studies) in 1971. Galati began teaching at Northwestern in 1973. He retired and was named emeritus professor in 2006. His papers are held in the Northwestern University Archives.
E. Patrick Johnson, now the dean of the School of Communication, was hired in 2000 as Galati’s “replacement” as the famed performance studies professor was retiring.
“Frank was a towering figure in both SoC and industry and leaves behind a bounty of profound performance work and a legacy that will live on through those he trained and whose lives he touched. I knew him well as a colleague and treasure my memories of his genius and kindness,” Johnson said.
Galati was nominated for an Academy Award for his adapted screenplay of “The Accidental Tourist” and won two Tony Awards in 1990 for his adaptation of “The Grapes of Wrath,” which originated at the Steppenwolf Theatre. Additional Broadway-directed shows include “Ragtime” in 1998 and “The Pirate Queen” in 2007, as well as dozens of high-profile productions in Chicago and well beyond. After retiring from Northwestern, Galati moved to Sarasota, Fla., where he was an artistic associate at Asolo Repertory Theatre.
“Frank Galati’s impact on the Chicago theater community is enormous; not just as a writer and director of iconic productions such as “The Grapes of Wrath” for Steppenwolf and “She Always Said, Pablo” at Goodman, or as an actor in plays like “A Flea in Her Ear” at Goodman, but most significantly as a teacher at Northwestern,” said Henry Godinez, professor and chair of the department of theatre. “His signature courses in adapting non-dramatic literature for the stage produced students like Mary Zimmerman, who along with Frank, basically created a new genre for the American theater landscape.”
Cindy Gold, theater professor and actress in several of Galati’s plays said she is grateful for Galati “adopting” her into his tribe of artists.
“Doing a play directed by Frank was like being in graduate school all over again. The amount I learned each time, about the play, the playwright, the style, as well as innumerable other ideas in which he was versed, is hard to quantify,” Gold recounted.