John Belluso, a Los Angeles playwright who championed the rights of the disabled in his work and through the L.A.-based writers program he helped direct, was found dead Feb. 17 in his room at the Marriott Residence Inn in Manhattan. He was 36.
Belluso had Engleman-Camurdrie syndrome, a debilitating bone disease that confined him to a wheelchair.
Belluso’s 2001 play “The Body of Bourne,” about a disfigured World War I pacifist and writer, was produced by Gordon Davidson, founding artistic director of Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum.
The playwright had been staying at the Marriott while he completed “The Poor Itch,” a play about a disabled American veteran returning from Iraq. Other works included 2002’s “Pyretown,” a scathing look at the U.S.’ managed health care system; “Gretty Good Time,” about a 32-year-old woman with postpolio paralysis; and “Traveling Skin,” about a waitress with cerebral palsy.