Playwright, screenwriter and producer DAVID RAMBO was born May 28, 1955 and grew up in Spring City, Pennsylvania.
His mother and grandmother were librarians. The house was filled with books, stories, words, musical instruments – and televisions, thanks to the Rambo family business, a Zenith TV dealership on Main Street.
Starting at age 15 David played the piano in bars and lodge halls. He was very active in school plays and music ensembles. After roles in Philadelphia dinner theatre and stock productions, he moved to New York at 19 to pursue an acting career. There were roles in off-off Broadway productions, including several at the Octagon Theatre Company. His cabaret act with actress/singer Thea Ramsey became popular in the resurgent New York cabaret scene of the late 1970s.
Seeking film and TV work, David moved to Los Angeles, where he starred with as yet unknown Nicolas Cage and Crispin Glover in the 1981 ABC pilot THE BEST OF TIMES. Other TV roles followed, but the theatre remained his first love.
His “day job,” selling real estate, took off; his acting career stalled.
During a raining Sunday open house with no lookers, he started to write a play on the blank side of the property information sheets.
That early play, and several that followed weren’t produced. But they helped secure an agent, Mary Harden, and the attention of non-profit playwright-development programs such as A.S.K. Theatre Projects, and the Ashland New Plays Festival.
Success came with the premiere of GOD’S MAN IN TEXAS at the 1999 Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, directed by John Dillon. Within a year, this 3-character play was one of the 10 most produced at regional theatres across the country, including productions at The Old Globe, The Alliance Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The Warehouse Theatre, Hippodrome Theatre, Tennessee Rep, Arkansas Rep and Mill Mountain Playhouse.
World premieres of subsequent plays include THE ICE-BREAKER (Magic Theatre, directed by Art Manke), THE LADY WITH ALL THE ANSWERS (The Old Globe, directed by Tom Moore), and David’s all-new book for Lerner and Loewe’s PAINT YOUR WAGON (The Geffen Playhouse, directed by Gil Cates). His adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’s BABBITT, directed by John Dillon, premiered at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, from which David holds an Honorary Doctorate in Performing Arts.
Judith Ivey starred in THE LADY WITH ALL THE ANSWERS off-Broadway at The Cherry Lane Theatre, directed by Northlight Theatre artistic director B.J. Jones. The play and its star received Lucille Lortel Award nominations.
David has adapted many classic screenplays for live performance in theatre, concert halls and L.A. Theatre Works’ broadcasts and podcast. Among these are ALL ABOUT EVE, ADAM’S RIB, SUNSET BOULEVARD, and CASABLANCA. Several were staged to benefit The Actors Fund, with stars such as Angela Lansbury, Kirk Douglas, Stockard Channing, Annette Bening, Tim Curry, Anjelica Huston, Sir Ben Kingsley, Cynthia Nixon, Keri Russell, Calista Flockhart, Jennifer Tilly, Carl Reiner, Zoe Caldwell, Anne Heche, Victor Garber, Peter Gallagher and Blythe Danner.
David’s SUNSET BOULEVARD screenplay adaptation was also given a thrilling performance at the Hollywood Bowl, conducted by Hollywood Bowl Orchestra founder John Mauceri conducting his 96-piece orchestra in Franz Waxman’s Oscar winning score as Betty Buckley, Len Cariou and Douglas Sills and an all-star cast, directed by Peter Hunt, performed the script.
A new play dealing with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, THE TUG OF WAR, was commissioned and produced by L.A. Theatre Works and is available in an audio version from audible.com.
At the conclusion of the third season of the international TV hit drama CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION, star William Petersen wanted to bring a playwright into the mix of writers on the show. He contacted friends from his Chicago theatre roots who were now at the Geffen Playhouse for suggestions. David’s name was on the list.
After meeting with executive producers Carol Mendelsohn and Jonathan Litman, David was assigned a freelance script. That episode, “Butterflied,” became a cult favorite among the show’s fans and led to a full-time job on the staff for the next six seasons.
Stints on V and NYC22 (produced by Jane Rosenthal and Robert DeNiro), and REVOLUTION followed, as well as the premiere season of EMPIRE, created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong.
He has also written and produced the TNT dramas WILL and CLAWS, and the upcoming Netflix series TINY PRETTY THINGS (fall 2020).
After 33 years together, David and Ted Heyck were married at their Los Angeles home in 2008.
David is a member of The Dramatists Guild, ASCAP and Writers Guild of America, West. He is a vice-chair of the Western Council of The Actors Fund.
He has not sold real estate since 1999.