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Transcript of Tennessee Williams
March 26, 1911 - February 25, 1983
Mar 26, 1911
Tennessee Williams was born in Columbus, Mississippi into a dysfunctional family. He is the second child of Cornelius Williams a hard-drinking, traveling shoes salesmen and Edwina Dakin Williams, a women whose social aspirations tilted towards snobbery and whose behavior could be neurotic. or both.
Williams Survives Diphtheria.Is a respiratory illness caused by Bacteria causing death to many infants. He nearly dies, and his legs remain paralyzed for nearly two years.
The Williams family moves to St. Louis, Missouri. A year later, their third and last child, Williams's younger brother Dakin, is born. Tennessee was not happy in St. Louis his family had became more dysfunctional, it was there that he began to look inward and write, his family situation became his fuel to write.
Sixteen-year-old Williams enters a writing contest in The Smart Set magazine and wins third place, and a prize of $5, for his essay "Can A Good Wife Be a Good Sport?" It is his entry into the literary world.
Williams enters the University of Missouri, the first of three colleges he attends in his university career. In college he is given the nickname "Tennessee," his father's home state, for his thick Southern drawl.
At his father's insistence, Williams withdraws from university and takes a job at the Universal Shoe Company, his father's employer. He works for the shoe company for about six years. During that time Williams enrolls at Washington University in St. Louis, but then drops out again.
Williams enrolls at the University of Iowa. He makes his dramatic debut with the production of Cairo, Shanghai, Bombay in Memphis. He follows that up with the plays Candles to the Sun and The Fugitive Kind, both produced by the Mummers of St. Louis. Also this year, William's older sister Rose is hospitalized for schizophrenia.
Williams graduates from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Later in his Career
He later studied at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York City.
After some early attempts at heterosexual relationships, by the late 1930 Williams had accepted his homosexuality. In New York he joined a gay social circle.
In the years following the death of Tennessee’s partner, Tennessee was plunged into a period of nearly catatonic depression and increasing drug use resulting in several hospitalizations and commitments to mental health facilities. He was never truly able to recoup his earlier success, or to entirely overcome his dependence on prescription drugs.
Death of Tennessee William
Tennessee put his health at risk causing his DEATH
By the early 1960s, his daily intake of substances had grown to incredibly. Tennessee would take two packs of cigarettes, a fifth of liquor, plus a handful of pills.
On February 25, 1983, Williams was found dead in his suite at the Elyse Hotel in New York at age of 71
The medical examiner's report indicated that he choked to death on the cap from a bottle, also indicating that his use of drugs abuse and alcohol may have contributed to his death by suppressing his gag reflex
What Made Tennessee Williams Unique
His Unforgettable Characters
In his lifetime, he filled his plays with unforgettable characters:
*He focused on how people pass through; sickness, abuse, heart breaks and love
The Glass Menagerie
A Street car Named Desire
Also dysfunctional Families
In the late 1930s, William supported himself with a string of menial jobs that included a notably disastrous stint as caretaker on a chicken ranch out side Los Angeles.
In 1939, he was awarded a 1,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in recognition of his play “Battle of Angels” which was produced in Boston in 1940.
During the winter of 1944-45, his “memory play” The Glass Menagerie was successfully produced in Chicago garnering good reviews. It moved to New York where it became an instant and enormous hit during its long Broadway run. Another great play is “A Street car Named desire” in 1947 secured his reputation as a great playwright. Between 1948 and 1959 seven of his plays were performed on Broadway.
After the extraordinary successes of the 1940’s and 1950’s, the 1960’s and the 1970’s brought personal turmoil and theatrical failures.
The Rockefeller grant gained him attention and Williams received a six-month contract from the Metro Goldwyn Mayer film studio in Hollywood, earning $250 weekly
His work reached world-wide audiences in the early 1950’s , when The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire were made into motion Pictures.
Many of his later works were all box office failures, and the relentlessly negative press notices wore down his spirit. His last play, “A House Not Meant To Stand” was produced in Chicago in 1982 and, despite largely positive reviews, ran for only 40 performances.
Although he continued to write every day, the quality of his work suffered from his increasing alcohol and drugs consumption as well as occasional poor choices of collaborators.
Tony Award for Best Play
Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Kennedy Center Honors
St. Louis Literary Award
American Academy of Arts
Letters Gold Medal for Drama