Terrence McNally, the gay playwright who won Tony Awards for Love! Valour! Compassion!, Master Class, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ragtime, has died at age 81. The cause was reported as complications from coronavirus, making him the first high-profile casualty of the disease.

McNally grew up in Corpus Christi (after living briefly in Dallas), but was born in St. Petersburg, Fla.; he died in Sarasota.

His first big hit, 1975’s comedy The Ritz, was set in a gay bathhouse. That was followed by the plays Frankie and Johnny and the Claire de Lune, It’s Only a Play, The Lisbon Traviata, Corpus Christi and Mothers and Sons. He also wrote the book to many musicals, including The Rink, The Fully Monty, The Visit, Catch Me If You Can and A Man of No Importance. many of these have been presented by Dallas theater companies, especially Uptown Players.

McNally also wrote the libretti to several operas for composer Jake Heggie (pictured above with McNally), including Great Scott, which received its world premiere from the Dallas Opera in 2015. He was supposed to write the libretto for the DO’s Moby-Dick, but health concerns forced him to pull out.

He is survived by his husband Tom Kirdahy.

— Arnold Wayne Jones