Thomas E. Griffin Jr.

Tom Griffin, 72, of Barrington, RI died March 20, 2018 at Rhode Island Hospital with his wife Martha McGowan-Griffin, his son Jamie Griffin, and Jamie’s girlfriend Kara Massie at his side. He was a gifted playwright and screenwriter who made his mark on the world through his words. He had a brilliant and quirky mind, funny with a sly sense of humor, at times outrageous. Tom was a loving and proud father, husband, and brother. He remains our shining star.

A Rhode Island native, Tom was an alumnus of the theater program at the University of Rhode Island and a resident member of Trinity Repertory Theater Company in Providence. His plays—tallying titles such as The Taking Away of Little Willie, Pasta, Mrs. Sedgwick’s Head, Workers, and Einstein and the Polar Bear—were produced on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, on London’s West End, and in scores of regional theatres across America and abroad. His writing deftly combined a waggish sense of humor with an earnest and compassionate eye for the tragic circumstances of being human. Family and friends could recognize themselves in his characters while his scripts resonated broadly with actors and audience members from all walks of life. His best known work, The Boys Next Door, about residents of a group home, was the most produced play in America in 1989. It has been featured in over 3500 productions in the United States and Canada and graced openings in Paris, Tokyo, Olso, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Sydney, and Johannesburg, among others. Throughout his acclaimed career, Tom received a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a CBS/Dramatists’ Guild Award, a McCarter Commission, a “Playboy” editorial award, an Edinburgh “Fringe First”, and an O’Neill fellowship. His short fiction was published in both America and Europe. Later in his career, Tom switched from writing for the stage to writing for the screen; he authored fourteen screenplays, including work for Warners, Paramount, MGM, Pathe, ABC, and Turner. A spirited Celtics fan, Tom was a skilled basketball player. In his spare time, he relished collecting books, stamps, and memorabilia.

Tom was predeceased by his parents, Thomas E Griffin Sr. and Violet (Drumm) Griffin of Warwick. He is survived by his much beloved wife and son, of whom he often boasted; by his spirited brother Gary Griffin; and by his gracious sister-in-law Deb Griffin. Burial will be private at Forest Chapel in Barrington. There will be a memorial gathering on Saturday, April 7th from 1-3pm at the Griffin residence. Please email for directions to this event.


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