Celebrations: Happy Birthday Tennessee Williams!
The prolific playwright’s March 26th birthday leads one to believe that those born under the Aries sign are born storytellers whether on paper, stage or screen.
Born in Columbus, Mississippi, his troubled family provided much of the inspiration for his writings. Many of them, which are set in the South, create a remarkable blend of decadence and nostalgia. Some of his most famous works include: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire and the title roles were played by some of the best in Hollywood – Marlon Brando, Vivian Leigh, Kirk Douglas, Jane Wyman, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and Ann-Margaret. For the famous “Stella” scene click here.
Every year in New Orleans, the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival is held to “serve the community through educational, theatrical, literary, and musical programs; to nurture, support, and showcase regional, national, and international writers, actors, musicians, and other artists; and to honor the creative genius of Tennessee Williams, who considered this city his spiritual home.” (www.tennesseewilliams.net). Over 100 authors, actors and musicians attend, professional writing education is offered to area students and up-and-coming literary and theatrical talent participate in contests and readings with poems, short stories, and one-act plays. For the Tennessee Williams fan, this is the place to be each March to celebrate his body of work and the written word thru commentary, workshops, forums and open discussion on the craft of writing. And New Orleans in the spring can’t be beat!
FUN FACTS ABOUT TENNESSEE:
Williams’ mother bought him his first typewriter for $10 when he was 12.
At one point, Williams intended to be a journalist.
Six days before his 28th birthday, Williams was awarded $100 for winning a playwright contest for those 25 and younger, which he entered illegally by lying about his age.
Williams briefly worked as an elevator operator at a hotel in New York.
On at least two occasions before becoming a noted playwright, Williams pawned his typewriter to buy food.
Williams spoke his words out loud while writing them.
Williams once had a friend named Stanley Kowalski — the same name as a central figure in Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire.
Williams once referred to his fame and fortune as “the catastrophe of success.”
Whitney Long is co-founder of The Southern C and a Southern Living Contributing Editor.