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Overview for Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams


TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (2)

Also Known As: Died: February 25, 1983
Born: March 26, 1911 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Columbus, Mississippi, USA Profession: Writer ...


At 16, won third prize and received $5 for an essay, "Can a Good Wife Be a Good Sport?", in <i>Smart Set</i>
Earned Tony Award for "The Rose Tattoo", which made an overnight star of Maureen Stapleton and was later adapted to the screen by Williams in 1955, starring his original choice for the lead role, Anna Magnani
First Broadway production, "The Glass Menagerie" (starring Laurette Taylor as Amanda in a fabled comeback from alcoholic oblivion), vaulted him to the front ranks of American playwrights; also had a second play on Broadway that year, the rather tepidly-received "You Touched Me", co-written with Donald Windham (based on a D.H. Lawrence story) and starring an inaudible Montgomery Clift
First New York production, a student presentation of "The Long Goodbye" at the New Theatre School
Garnered a second Oscar nod for the screenplay of "Baby Doll", called by <i>Time</i> magazine "just possibly the dirtiest American picture ever legally exhibited"; the Catholic Legion of Decency condemned the film stating that it "dwells upon carnal suggestiveness"; adapted from Williams' one-act "27 Wagons Full of Cotton"
His one-act plays "Candles to the Sun" and "The Fugitive Kind" produced by Mummers of St Louis
Revival of "Summer and Smoke" by director Jose Quintero and starring Geraldine Page put Off-Broadway on the map
Suffered from diphtheria and a kidney infection at the age of six (date approximate)
"Battle of Angels" produced in Boston; closed after a two-week tryout and excited more interest among the city's censors than in audiences; later revised as "Orpheus Descending", a 1957 Broadway failure; also revived as "Battle of Angels" Off-Broadway during 1974-1975 season
Converted to Roman Catholicism
First performance of "Not About Nightingales" (directed by Trevor Nunn), a play written in 1938 and thus predating "The Glass Menagerie", at London's National Theatre; actress Vanessa Redgrave had discovered the manuscript; subsequently produced at Houston's Alley Theater and on Broadway; nominated for Best Play Tony Award
Published "The Vengeance of Nitocris" in <i>Weird Tales</i>
Quit college at behest of father to begin work in the warehouse at the International Shoe Company in St Louis
Returned to Broadway with "Summer and Smoke"; show flopped but was a hit Off-Broadway four years later; revised as "Eccentricities of a Nightingale" in 1965
Screenwriting debut with "The Glass Menagerie"
Second Broadway success, "A Streetcar Named Desire", directed by Elia Kazan; earned first Pulitzer Prize in 1948; coaxed Kazan into accepting Marlon Brando for the role of Stanley after the young actor read for him at his Provincetown home in August (and repaired the plumbing as well)
Secured a screenwriting job at MGM through Wood; assigned to a Lana Turner project, "Marriage Is a Private Affair"; instead spent time developing what would become "The Glass Menagerie"; MGM rejected the script (called "The Gentleman Caller") based on his short story "Portrait of a Girl in Glass", freeing Williams to pursue a theatrical production
Wrote the screenplay for "The Fugitive Kind", based on his play "Orpheus Descending"; also credited for the lyrics of the song "Blanket Roll Blues"
"Camino Real" closed after less than two months on Broadway, despite gathering an ardent core of admirers; Walter Kerr called it "the worst play yet by the best playwright of his generation"; containing arguably Williams' most gorgeous poetry for the American stage, original director Kazan called it "a love letter to the people Williams loved most, the romantics, those innocents who become victims in our business civilization"; revived Off-Broadway by Quintero in 1960, it failed again
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (directed by Kazan) opened on Broadway; would earn him a 1956 Tony nomination and a second Pulitzer
"The Glass Menagerie" enjoyed a successful run in Chicago; with no advance sale, the show had nearly closed, but agent Wood convinced the producers to remain open, citing good reviews
First published work of fiction, the novel "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone", adapted for the screen by Gavin Lambert in 1961
Last Broadway production, "Clothes for a Summer Hotel", about F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
Last NYC production, Off-Broadway's "Something Cloudy, Something Clear"
Moved with family to St Louis, Missouri
Received Tony nomination for "The Night of the Iguana", which debuted on Broadway in 1961
Spent some months working as a cinema usher, during which he saw "Casablanca" over and over
Family lived for several years in Clarksdale, Mississippi
First play, "Cairo, Shanghai, Bombay", produced in Memphis
Last stage success, the Off-Broadway premiere of "Small Craft Warnings", called by <i>Variety</i>: "Easily the best drama Off-Broadway this season"; made his stage acting debut when he took over one of the roles after the production had opened
Published autobiography, "Memoirs"; though frank in discussing his homosexuality, book was disappointing in its lack of comment on his dramaturgy
Published first collection of poetry, "In the Winter of Cities"
Received Oscar nomination for screenplay of "A Streetcar Named Desire", helmed by Kazan
Won a special award and $100 from the Group Theater (failed to win first prize) for "American Blues" (four one-act plays published in 1948); entry brought him to the attention of legendary literary agent Audrey Wood who would represent him until 1971; also received a $1000 Rockefeller grant
Produced final play, "In Masks Outrageous and Austere"

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