Tennessee Williams on Hollywood

In the 1940s I had a glorious time in Hollywood because I was fired almost at once from the project I was working on and they had to continue to pay me. That was in my contract. For six months they had to pay me $250 a week. This was in 1943, when $250 was equivalent to about $1,000 now, I would guess. They had to pay me whether I had an assignment or not.

First they put me on Marriage Is a Private Affair for Lana Turner. Well, they expressed great delight with my dialogue, and I think it was good. But they said, “You give Miss Turner too many multisyllable words!” So I said, “Well some words do contain more than one syllable!” And Pandro Berman, who loved me very much–Lana Turner just happened to be his girlfriend at the time–he said to me, “Tennessee, Lana can tackle two syllables, but I’m afraid if you go into three you’re taxing her vocabulary!”

Then they asked me if I’d like to write a screenplay for a child star, one named Margaret O’Brien. I said, “I’d sooner shoot myself!” By that time I knew I’d get the $250 regardless.

So I lived out in Santa Monica and had a ball until the money ran out.

second thoughts: Frank D at 33

the voices keep calling you
tormenting what passes for your soul
you know you must be leaving
but hang onto the day
days that run dawn to dusk
in a place you don’t belong
you try to kill that restless feeling
with responsibilities
obligations
with boundaries that bind
these things were tried before
this life you’ve lived before
and though you hear your name spoken
it is not the name you answer to
and there are voices on the wind
impossible to resist
this time there just isn’t much to hold you
and the names
the names you carry
send sorrow through the air
and the weight
the weight fills your lungs
and your mind
your perfect weapon
yearns to go down to the sea
and purify itself