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Robert Patrick, Early, and Prolific, Playwright of Gay Life, Dies at 85

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Robert Patrick, a wildly prolific playwright who rendered gay (and straight) life with caustic wit, an open heart and fizzy camp, and whose 1964 play, “The Haunted Host,” became a touchstone of early gay theater, died on April 23 at his home in Los Angeles.

He was 85. The cause was atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, said Jason Jenn, a friend. Mr. Patrick’s story is intertwined with that of Caffe Cino, the West Village coffee shop that was the accidental birthplace of Off Off Broadway theater.

One day in 1961, a 24-year-old Mr. Patrick followed a cute boy with long hair into the place, where the playwrights John Guare, Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson and, soon, Mr.

Patrick, all got their starts; the cute boy was John P. Dodd, who went on to be a well-known lighting designer and die of AIDS in 1991.

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