|Birth Day:||March 26, 1911|
|Death Date:||Feb 25, 1983 (age 71)|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Tennessee Williams died on Feb 25, 1983 (age 71).
He studied journalism at the University of Missouri and Colombia University. After falling in love with a girl who didn't return his love, he began writing poetry, essays, stories, and plays.
When Williams was eight years old, his father was promoted to a job at the home office of the International Shoe Company in St. Louis, Missouri. His mother's continual search for what she considered to be an appropriate address, as well as his father's heavy drinking and loudly turbulent behavior, caused them to move numerous times around St. Louis. Williams attended Soldan High School, a setting he referred to in his play The Glass Menagerie. Later he studied at University City High School. At age 16, Williams won third prize for an essay published in Smart Set, titled "Can a Good Wife Be a Good Sport?" A year later, his short story "The Vengeance of Nitocris" was published (as by "Thomas Lanier Williams") in the August 1928 issue of the magazine Weird Tales. These early publications did not lead to any significant recognition or appreciation of Williams' talent, and he would struggle for more than a decade afterwards to establish his writing career. Later in 1928, Williams first visited Europe with his maternal grandfather Dakin.
From 1929 to 1931, Williams attended the University of Missouri in Columbia where he enrolled in journalism classes. He was bored by his classes and distracted by unrequited love for a girl. Soon he began entering his poetry, essays, stories, and plays in writing contests, hoping to earn extra income. His first submitted play was Beauty Is the Word (1930), followed by Hot Milk at Three in the Morning (1932). As recognition for Beauty, a play about rebellion against religious upbringing, he became the first freshman to receive honorable mention in a writing competition.
In 1936, Williams enrolled at Washington University in St. Louis where he wrote the play Me, Vashya (1937). In the autumn of 1937, he transferred to the University of Iowa, where he graduated with a B.A. in English in August 1938. He later studied at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York City. Speaking of his early days as a playwright and an early collaborative play called Cairo, Shanghai, Bombay!, Williams wrote, "The laughter ... enchanted me. Then and there the theatre and I found each other for better and for worse. I know it's the only thing that saved my life." Around 1939, he adopted "Tennessee Williams" as his professional name.
As Williams was struggling to gain production and an audience for his work in the late 1930s, he worked at a string of menial jobs that included a stint as caretaker on a chicken ranch in Laguna Beach, California. In 1939, with the help of his agent Audrey Wood, Williams was awarded a $1,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in recognition of his play Battle of Angels. It was produced in Boston in 1940 and was poorly received.
Using some of the Rockefeller funds, Williams moved to New Orleans in 1939 to write for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a federally funded program begun by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to put people to work. Williams lived for a time in New Orleans' French Quarter, including 722 Toulouse Street, the setting of his 1977 play Vieux Carré. The building is now part of The Historic New Orleans Collection. The Rockefeller grant brought him to the attention of the Hollywood film industry and Williams received a six-month contract as a writer from the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio, earning $250 weekly.
Throughout his life Williams remained close to his sister, Rose, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young woman. In 1943, as her behavior became increasingly disturbing, she was subjected to a lobotomy, requiring her to be institutionalized for the rest of her life. As soon as he was financially able, Williams moved Rose to a private institution just north of New York City, where he often visited her. He gave her a percentage interest in several of his most successful plays, the royalties from which were applied toward her care. The devastating effects of Rose's treatment may have contributed to Williams' alcoholism and his dependence on various combinations of amphetamines and barbiturates.
On a 1945 visit to Taos, New Mexico, Williams met Pancho Rodríguez y González, a hotel clerk of Mexican heritage. Rodríguez was, by all accounts, a loving and loyal companion. But he was also prone to jealous rages and excessive drinking, and their relationship was tempestuous. In February 1946 Rodríguez left New Mexico to join Williams in his New Orleans apartment. They lived and traveled together until late 1947, when Williams ended the relationship. Rodríguez and Williams remained friends, however, and were in contact as late as the 1970s.
The huge success of his next play, A Streetcar Named Desire, secured his reputation as a great playwright in 1947. During the late 1940s and 1950s, Williams began to travel widely with his partner Frank Merlo (1922 – September 21, 1963), often spending summers in Europe. He moved often to stimulate his writing, living in New York, New Orleans, Key West, Rome, Barcelona, and London. Williams wrote, "Only some radical change can divert the downward course of my spirit, some startling new place or people to arrest the drift, the drag."
Between 1948 and 1959 Williams had seven of his plays produced on Broadway: Summer and Smoke (1948), The Rose Tattoo (1951), Camino Real (1953), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Orpheus Descending (1957), Garden District (1958), and Sweet Bird of Youth (1959). By 1959, he had earned two Pulitzer Prizes, three New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards, three Donaldson Awards, and a Tony Award.
The Pulitzer Prize for Drama was awarded to A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 and to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955. These two plays later were adapted as highly successful films by noted directors Elia Kazan (Streetcar), with whom Williams developed a very close artistic relationship, and Richard Brooks (Cat). Both plays included references to elements of Williams's life such as homosexuality, mental instability, and alcoholism.
Although The Flowering Peach by Clifford Odets was the preferred choice of the Pulitzer Prize jury in 1955, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was at first considered the weakest of the five shortlisted nominees, Joseph Pulitzer Jr., chairman of the Board, had seen Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and thought it worthy of the drama prize. The Board went along with him after considerable discussion.
After the extraordinary successes of the 1940s and 1950s, he had more personal turmoil and theatrical failures in the 1960s and 1970s. Although he continued to write every day, the quality of his work suffered from his increasing alcohol and drug consumption, as well as occasional poor choices of collaborators. In 1963, his partner Frank Merlo died.
When he returned to New York that spring, Williams met and fell in love with Frank Merlo (1922–1963). An occasional actor of Sicilian ancestry, he had served in the U.S. Navy in World War II. This was the enduring romantic relationship of Williams' life, and it lasted 14 years until infidelities and drug abuse on both sides ended it. Merlo, who had become Williams' personal secretary, took on most of the details of their domestic life. He provided a period of happiness and stability, acting as a balance to the playwright's frequent bouts with depression. Williams feared that, like his sister Rose, he would fall into insanity. His years with Merlo, in an apartment in Manhattan and a modest house in Key West, Florida were Williams' happiest and most productive. Shortly after their breakup, Merlo was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Williams returned to him and cared for him until his death on September 20, 1963.
In 1974, Williams received the St. Louis Literary Award from the Saint Louis University Library Associates. In 1979, four years before his death, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
As Williams grew older, he felt increasingly alone; he feared old age and losing his sexual appeal to younger gay men. In the 1970s, when he was in his 60s, Williams had a lengthy relationship with Robert Carroll, a Vietnam veteran and aspiring writer in his 20s. Williams had deep affection for Carroll and respect for what he saw as the younger man's talents. Along with Williams' sister Rose, Carroll was one of the two people who received a bequest in Williams' will. Williams described Carroll's behavior as a combination of "sweetness" and "beastliness". Because Carroll had a drug problem (as did Williams), friends such as Maria St. Just saw the relationship as "destructive". Williams wrote that Carroll played on his "acute loneliness" as an aging gay man. When the two men broke up in 1979, Williams called Carroll a "twerp", but they remained friends until Williams died four years later.
Edwina Dakin died in 1980 at the age of 95. Her health had begun failing during the early 1970s and she lived in a care facility from 1975 onward. Williams rarely saw his mother in her later years and retained a strong animosity toward her; friends described his reaction to her death as "mixed".
Consumed by depression over the loss, and in and out of treatment facilities while under the control of his mother and brother Dakin, Williams spiraled downward. His plays Kingdom of Earth (1967), In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel (1969), Small Craft Warnings (1973), The Two Character Play (also called Out Cry, 1973), The Red Devil Battery Sign (1976), Vieux Carré (1978), Clothes for a Summer Hotel (1980), and others were all box office failures. Negative press notices wore down his spirit. His last play, A House Not Meant to Stand, was produced in Chicago in 1982. Despite largely positive reviews, it ran for only 40 performances.
On February 25, 1983, Williams was found dead at age 71 in his suite at the Hotel Elysée in New York. Chief Medical Examiner of New York City Elliot M. Gross reported that Williams had choked to death from inhaling the plastic cap of a bottle of the type used on bottles of nasal spray or eye solution. It was later reported that Williams was using the plastic cap to ingest barbiturates.
In 1985, French author-composer Michel Berger wrote a song dedicated to Tennessee Williams, "Quelque chose de Tennessee" (Something of Tennessee), for Johnny Hallyday. It became one of the singer's more famous songs.
Since 1986, the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival has been held annually in New Orleans, Louisiana, in commemoration of the playwright. The festival takes place at the end of March to coincide with Williams's birthday.
The rectory of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Columbus, Mississippi, where Williams's grandfather Dakin was rector at the time of Williams's birth, was moved to another location in 1993 for preservation. It was newly renovated in 2010 for use by the City of Columbus as the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center.
The U.S. Postal Service honored Williams on a stamp issued on October 13, 1995 as part of its literary arts series.
Williams left his literary rights to The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, an Episcopal school, in honor of his maternal grandfather, Walter Dakin, an alumnus of the university. The funds support a creative writing program. When his sister Rose died in 1996 after many years in a mental institution, she bequeathed $7 million from her part of the Williams estate to The University of the South.
Williams wrote The Parade, or Approaching the End of a Summer when he was 29, and worked on it sporadically throughout his life. A semi-autobiographical depiction of his 1940 romance with Kip Kiernan in Provincetown, Massachusetts, it was produced for the first time on October 1, 2006, in Provincetown by the Shakespeare on the Cape production company. This was part of the First Annual Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival. Something Cloudy, Something Clear (1981) is also based on his memories of Provincetown in the 1940s.
In late 2009, Williams was inducted into the Poets' Corner at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York. Performers and artists who took part in his induction included Vanessa Redgrave, playwright John Guare, Eli Wallach, Sylvia Miles, Gregory Mosher, and Ben (Griessmeyer) Berry.
At the time of his death, Williams had been working on a final play In Masks Outrageous and Austere, which attempted to reconcile certain forces and facts of his own life. This was a continuing theme in his work. As of September 2007, author Gore Vidal was completing the play, and Peter Bogdanovich was slated to direct its Broadway debut. The play received its world premiere in New York City in April 2012, directed by David Schweizer and starring Shirley Knight as Babe.
In 2014 Williams was one of the inaugural honorees in the Rainbow Honor Walk, a walk of fame in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood noting LGBTQ people who have "made significant contributions in their fields."
In 2015, The Tennessee Williams Theatre Company of New Orleans was founded by Co-Artistic Directors Nick Shackleford and Augustin J Correro. The New Orleans based non-profit theatre company is the first year-round professional theatre company that focuses exclusively on the works of Williams.
Since 2016, St. Louis, Missouri has held an annual Tennessee Williams' Festival, featuring a main production and related events such as literary discussions and new plays inspired by his work. In 2018 the festival produced A Streetcar Named Desire.
On October 17, 2019, the Mississippi Writers Trail installed a historical marker commemorating William's literary contributions during his namesake festival produced by the City of Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Tennessee had a serious relationship with actor Phillip Merlo, but drug abuse and infidelity ended their romance. Tennessee also had a relationship with Pancho Rodríguez y González. Tennessee's sister Rose, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was his inspiration for the character Laura from The Glass Menagerie.
Currently, Tennessee Williams is 111 years, 6 months and 11 days old. Tennessee Williams will celebrate 112th birthday on a Sunday 26th of March 2023. Below we countdown to Tennessee Williams upcoming birthday.
HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY, TENNESSEE WILLIAMS! | Skylight Books