UC Berkeley press release


Travis Bogard, leading authority on playwright Eugene O'Neill and UC Berkeley professor emeritus, dies at age 79

by Gretchen Kell

Berkeley -- Travis Bogard, one of the foremost authorities in the world on the life and works of playwright Eugene O'Neill and a professor emeritus of dramatic art at the University of California at Berkeley, died Saturday (April 5) after a short illness. He was 79.

Bogard also was the artistic catalyst for the non-profit Eugene O'Neill Foundation, founded in 1974, and helped preserve Tao House, O'Neill's former home in Danville, Calif., as a site for the performing arts.

Where O'Neill once penned famous plays including "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and "The Iceman Cometh," Bogard attracted actors, producers and writers -- including Jason Robards, Katherine Hepburn and Sam Shepard -- to visit and give advice about artistic and educational programs for Tao House.

Tao House is now a 13-acre national historic site maintained by the National Park Service. The O'Neill foundation remains in charge of artistic and educational programming there.

Born in San Francisco in 1918, Bogard received his BA in 1939 and his MA in English in 1940 from UC Berkeley. He received his PhD from Princeton University in 1948. From 1943 to 1946, he served in the United States Army during World War II.

Bogard joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1948, first teaching in the English department. In 1958, he was appointed head of and professor in the newly created Department of Dramatic Art. During his tenure, he also served as chair of that department, producing all of the university's theater events and designing and developing the first PhD program in dramatic art offered by the campus.

Bogard was known on campus as producer of the Old Chestnut Drama Guild, a semi-professional summer theater group that performed plays for five seasons in the mid- to late- 1970s. Among his biggest contributions to campus performances was as chair of UC Berkeley's Committee for Arts and Lectures, the group that preceded Cal Performances.

He retired in 1987, dedicating the later years of his life to his writings and to Tao House.

Bogard wrote and edited countless articles and books on O'Neill. Among them are "Contour in Time, The Plays of Eugene O'Neill" and "The Complete Plays of Eugene O'Neill," which consists of three volumes. This collection is recognized as the authoritative collection of O'Neill's works.

With Jackson Bryer, Bogard co-edited two volumes of O'Neill's correspondence, "The Selected Letters of Eugene O'Neill" and "The Theatre We Worked For: the Correspondence of Eugene O'Neill and Kenneth Magowan."

In 1993, Bogard wrote "From the Silence of Tao House: Essays About Eugene and Carlotta O'Neill and the Tao House Plays." Bogard gave all rights and proceeds from this book to the Eugene O'Neill Foundation. His "The Eugene O'Neill Songbook," a collection of musical scores incorporated into O'Neill's plays, was published in 1994.

During his lifetime, Bogard received awards including the Guggenheim fellowship in 1958-59, the Berkeley Citation in 1981, an honorary membership in Phi Beta Kappa in 1981 and the Tao House Award in 1993. The Tao House Award honors people who have served the theater of this country with distinction in the fields of acting, directing, design, choreography, playwriting, criticism, historical studies, production or administrative work.

Bogard's wife, Jane, died in 1988. He is survived by his son, John George Bogard of Gerlach, Nevada; his daughter, Sara Snow Bogard of Reno, Nevada; a brother, John Bogard of Southern California; and a grandson, Travis Bogard.

A memorial service is pending.

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