Mark Medoff, a provocative playwright whose "Children of a Lesser God" won Tony and Olivier awards and whose screen adaptation of his play earned an Oscar nomination, has died in Las Cruces, N.M. He was 79.

Medoff died Tuesday in a hospice surrounded by family, according to his daughter, Jessica Bunchman. He had been battling both multiple myeloma, a cancer, and renal failure, she said Wednesday in a family statement.

Medoff wrote 30 plays and wrote, produced or directed 19 movies. He found his greatest success with "Children of a Lesser God," the tale of a troubled love affair between a speech teacher and a deaf woman who struggle to overcome the communications gap between their two cultures.

Phyllis Frelich won a Tony in 1980 for her Broadway portrayal of Sarah Norman, the deaf woman at the heart of the play, which ran for almost 900 performances. It was later made into a movie, which won an Academy Award for actress Marlee Matlin, who co-starred opposite William Hurt.

A Broadway revival last year of "Children of a Lesser God" starred Lauren Ridloff, a former Miss Deaf America, who earned a Tony nomination.