The man whose innovative, Obie-winning play The Connection went on to become a striking celluloid study in heroin addiction, writer Jack Gelber never went on to enjoy such crossover success again, despite notable stage work later in his career. Born in Chicago in April of 1932, Gelber graduated from the University of Illinois before relocating to New York City in the 1950s. Penning The Connection at the age of 26, the play proved a harrowing window into the lives of junkies as they awaited their next fix. A staple of The Living Theatre, where it had a 722 show run, the play also provided actor Martin Sheen with an early stage role. Director Shirley Clarke would adapt the play into a film in 1961. Later penning such plays as Sleep, The Apple, and Square in the Eye, Gelber would also direct his play The Cuban Thing under the bright lights of Broadway. In addition to also directing the plays of others, Gelber's novel On Ice was published in 1964 and he later taught at Columbia University, Brooklyn College, and the New School University. On May 9, 2003, Jack Gelber died of blood cancer in New York City. He was 71.