The Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist passed away on Wednesday (23Mar11) in a care facility in Wayne, New Jersey, according to the Associated Press.
Wilson, best known for his plays Burn This and Fifth of July, was one of the founders of the Off-Off-Broadway movement, and helped start New York's Circle Repertory Theater.
He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for Talley's Folly and three of his plays were nominated for Tony Awards.
The writer died just one day before his play The Hot L Baltimore was due to be previewed at The Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
The Steppenwolf Theatre co-founder Terry Kinney says, "Lanford was a singular voice in the American theatre - an important artist, a gentle soul and a good friend. We will miss him sorely."