Eugene O’Neill (1888–1953), America's most honored playwright, is pictured on the 1-dollar stamp of the Prominent Americans Series. After Shakespeare and Shaw, Eugene O’Neill is probably the most translated and produced playwright of all time. His melodramas, musicals, and farces transformed the American theatre into a serious literary medium.
O’Neill’s plays, like his life, often described the downtrodden and those on the fringes of society who struggle to maintain their hopes and aspirations. In addition to his four Pulitzer Prize winning plays—Beyond the Horizon (1920), Anna Christie (1922), Strange Interlude (1928), and Long Days Journey into Night (1957)—other highly regarded works include Desire Under the Elms, Mourning Becomes Electra, and Ah, Wilderness. In 1936 O’Neill received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Ten years later he wrote his most renowned play, The Iceman Cometh.
The 1-dollar dull purple O’Neill stamp was issued on October 16, 1967, in New London, Connecticut. The sheet stamp was printed from plates of four hundred and sold in panes of one hundred stamps with gauge 11 x 10.5 perforations. The stamp was also issued as a horizontal coil on January 12, 1973, in New Hempstead, New York. Norman Todhunter designed the stamp, basing his work on a photograph in the September 22, 1957, issue of The New York Times. Arthur W. Dintaman engraved the vignette, and Robert G. Culin engraved the lettering. Eugene O’Neill had never before appeared on a U.S. postage stamp.
The 1-dollar stamp paid the priority mail (up to one pound) rate and was used as multiples to pay higher priority and express mail rates and business reply postage and, with other denominations, to pay existing postal rates and fees.