Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Charles Ludlam

Raised in Long Island, N.Y. and studying drama at Hofstra University, Charles Ludlam moved to New York City right after college and threw himself into the avant-garde theatrical world. In 1967 he founded the Ridiculous Theatrical Company. Over the next two decades he wrote, produced, directed, and starred in more than 30 plays and won several Off-Broadway “Obie” awards for his efforts. His work embraced parody as he took various forms and products of popular culture and transformed them into outrageous, over-the-top social satire. Ludlam was especially legendary for his gender-bending parts, often appearing in drag in such roles as Camille, Medea, and Hedda Gabler. His most renowned production was The Mystery of Irma Vep (1984) in which he shared a dozen roles with his long-time lover and fellow actor, Everett Quinton. Ludlam died very quickly from AIDS in 1987, at a point when the epidemic was still heavily stigmatizing gay men and there were no effective forms of treatment. In 2009, Ludlam was inducted posthumously into the American Theater Hall of Fame.