Jonathan Reynolds, Playwright and Food Columnist, Dies at 79

But he did enjoy cooking, and for years he had been making diary entries about meals he had prepared or eaten and menus he had perused. He filled his columns not just with recipes and cooking tips but with anecdotes and humor. For instance, in March 2000 he offered a solution of sorts to the age-old problem with turkeys: that cooking the bird’s drumsticks and thighs thoroughly enough tended to leave the white meat dry.

“For those with successful Nasdaq portfolios,” he wrote, “it’s simple: Buy two turkeys and cook one for the white meat and the other for the dark, then discard the overcooked white of one and the undercooked dark of the other.”

For everyone else, he offered a solution that involved basting and assorted dos and don’ts. In 2006 he collected his cooking observations in a book, “Wrestling With Gravy: A Life, With Food.”

Jonathan Randolph Reynolds was born on Feb. 13, 1942, in Fort Smith, Ark., to Donald Worthington Reynolds, founder of the Donrey Media Group, and Edith (Remick) Reynolds.

He earned a bachelor of fine arts degree at Denison University in Ohio in 1965 and studied for a time at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art. Back in New York, he was the understudy for the Rosencrantz role in the Broadway production of Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” in 1967 before embarking on his writing career. Before his 1975 playwriting breakthrough, he was on the staffs of David Frost’s and Dick Cavett’s television shows.

At his death Mr. Reynolds lived in Manhattan and in Garrison, N.Y.

His marriage in 1978 to Charlotte Kirk ended in divorce in 1998. In 2004 he married the Tony Award-winning set designer Heidi Ettinger, who survives him, along with two sons from his marriage to Ms. Kirk, Edward and Frank Reynolds; three stepsons, North, Nash and Dodge Landesman; and two grandchildren.

In 2003 Ms. Ettinger had the challenge of creating the set for a one-man show that marked Mr. Reynolds’s return to acting after a long layoff. It was called “Dinner With Demons,” and in it Mr. Reynolds cooked a full dinner, including deep-frying a turkey, while relating assorted anecdotes. That required putting a functioning kitchen onstage at the Second Stage Theater in Midtown.

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