Some Fun Facts on our fascinating playwright.
1. Williams was born “Thomas Lanier Williams III,” but changed his name to “Tennessee” at the age of 28. Different sources report various reasons for the new moniker. Some claim he received the name from a college roommate, others argue that he picked it to pay tribute to his ancestors who lived in the state of Tennessee, and some think he simply wanted to break with his past and conceal his age.
2. In college, Williams was known for skipping classes and missing exams simply because he forgot about them.
3. On at least two occasions before becoming a noted playwright, Williams pawned his typewriter to buy food.
4. Williams briefly worked as an elevator operator at a hotel in New York.
5. Williams once referred to his fame and fortune as “the catastrophe of success.”
6. Williams’ advice to young playwrights: “Don’t bore the audience! I mean, even if you have to resort to totally arbitrary killing on stage, or pointless gunfire, at least it’ll catch their attention and keep them awake. Just keep the thing going any way you can.”
7. Williams changed his birth date from 1911 to 1914 to enter play-writing contests that he would have been too old to enter otherwise. 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.
8. Near the end of his life, Williams expressed interest in refilming A Streetcar Named Desire with Meryl Streep playing the part of Blanche DuBois.
9. Due to self-doubt, Williams would often not show up for critical rehearsals and meetings.
10. Playwright Arthur Miller, who viewed Williams as a mentor, once said of him, “He chose a hard life that requires the skin of an alligator and the heart of a poet.”