William Harris Papers-Paul Zindel

Authored by Erika Wilson

Zindel watermarked image

Clipping of the play to be performed at the Biltmore Theatre

The Effect of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds was written by Paul Zindel. His novel received a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 and eventually became a popular Broadway performance. Some of the advertisements and review clippings from various Broadway performances of the play are archived in the William Harris Papers at Manhattan Marymount College. An impressive collection of 96 scripts, 4,450 folders of clippings and a collection of photographs gathered by Mr. Harris during the decades of the 1960s to the 1990s (Manhattan, 2016).

The object here is a clipping from an unknown source. It is an advertisement for the play at the Biltmore Theatre in New York City. The collection from the William Harris Papers had many clippings of reviews from performances of The Effect of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds. The reviews in the collection and other reviews I found on the substance of the play and Zindel’s writing lend to an absence of Vincentian values. The play focuses on a dysfunctional family operated by a narcissistic and abusive mother, Beatrice. Beatrice has two daughters, Tillie and Ruth. The virulent environment manifested by Beatrice is lacking in the motivational values of truth, love, and respect. Beatrice haunted by her own feelings of self-destruction is incapable of providing a healthy home life for the girls. In the play Tillie is working on a science project about the effects of radiation on seed growth. This project serves as a metaphor for the toxic surroundings in which the girls live and its hindrance on their successful development (Royce, 2000).

The author and playwright Paul Zindel was praised for his ability to reach teens. Fluent in “teenspeak” he is able to connect with this age group. A lot of his works focus on resonating with teens, an often misunderstood and misrepresented group. If we look at the work of Paul Zindel through the Vincentian Lens of Transparency we see that he gave teens a voice. He even encouraged them to reach out to him by adding an addendum in his novels inviting them to respond (Megyeri, 2003). The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds is only one contribution by Paul Zindel that inspired the operational  values of opportunity and service to his readers. Sadly, Paul Zindel passed away from cancer at age 66 (Megyeri, 2003).


Angel, M. Christine. Information representation through the Vincentian lens of   transparency: Providing the under and misrepresented voice within our cultural and heritage records. Division of Library and Information Science, St. John’s University.

Marymount Manhattan College. The william harris papers. cited 3/10/2016 Available from http://www.mmm.edu/offices/library/archives.php.

Megyeri, Kathy A. 2003. In memoriam: Paul zindel. English Journal 93 (2) Nov 2003: 12-3.

Mpls.-St, Lisa Brock , Star Tribune. 2013. ‘ Gamma rays’ a searing portrait  of dysfunction. Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN, June 10, 2013, sec variety

Royce, Graydon, and Staff Writer. 2000. Mad – mother role glows in ‘ gamma rays’. Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), June 6, 2000.

Shirley, Don. 2003. [ Paul zindel, who turned tales of troubled teenagers into a pulitzer… ]. Pittsburgh Post – Gazette, Mar 30, 2003.