Michael Endelman
October 10, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”I don’t think of myself in a category with real playwrights like Lanford Wilson and David Mamet,” Herb Gardner said in 1985. ”I still think I would like to be a playwright when I grow up.” Before his Sept. 24 death from lung disease, Gardner — a onetime comic-strip artist — had penned A Thousand Clowns (1962), I’m Not Rappaport (1985), and Conversations With My Father (1992). A very real playwright, indeed.

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