Jack Warner meets Tennessee Williams (or thinks he does)

From Dotson Rader's spectacularly colorful memoir of Tennessee Williams, Cry of the Heart, about his much older friend and lover, here's a note about Williams and Los Angeles: 

"Los Angeles [was] a city Tennessee hated more than any other in the world. 

"I always feel like a whore there," [he said]. "I don't appreciate works of art being referred to as a "property," like a play of mine was a piece of undeveloped land in the Hollywood Hills. It is a city where everyone and everything is assumed to be up for sale. Everyone is thought to have a price. Well, some things cannot be priced!" 

"Tennessee used to moan every time he had to go to Los Angeles on business. Like William Faulkner, he viewed it as a place where one held's one nose and got as much money as one could in as short a time as possible, and then grabbed the next red-eye out."

"The only culture in L.A. is in a carton of yogurt!" 

Then Rader, whose wonderful book was published in l985, throws in a scene from the 1950's that deserves to be seen on stage someday this year, this 100th year of Williams' birth:

Tenncry "Warner Brothers had bought the rights to "The Glass Menagerie." Tennessee and Frank [Merlo, his long-time companion] went to the studio to have lunch with Jack Warner in the commissary. When they arrived, Warner stood up, and said, "Well, well! At last, here you are! Welcome to Warner Brothers!" And shook hands with Frank Merlo, thinking he was Tennessee. 

Tennessee started to laugh, and Warner, now utterly confused, said to Frank, "And what do you do, young man?" 

Frank looked him straight in the eye, and replied, "I sleep with Tennessee Williams.'"





Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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