Tennessee Williams on Marilyn

Follies of God: The Notebooks is a forthcoming book by James Grissom about playwright Tennessee Williams. Extracts from the book have been posted on Grissom’s blog.

The book includes a short essay entitled ‘Marilyn Monroe Got What She Wanted.’ Considering that Williams was a fragile, troubled, though gifted man, his opinion of Marilyn is surprisingly uncharitable.

“It’s fine to cry for Marilyn Monroe. I did, and I still do. She was tragic, but she was also lucky. There are beautiful, sad, dumb girls all over the world who endure worse than she did, but they never get to live on the screen or bathe in perfume or populate the dreams of people who love beauty or who love pain or who wonder what it must be like to possess such sexual power.

Let her go. Look at the beauty, but move on. There is nothing else there. A pretty visage with a sad story. Marilyn always said she wanted to be noticed, she wanted to be loved, and she wanted to be left alone and feel safe.
I think Marilyn Monroe got what she wanted.”
Perhaps Williams was referring to the legend that has grown since her death, rather than Marilyn herself. He met Marilyn several times and had wanted her to play the lead in Baby Doll (1956.) Or maybe he was simply jealous that Marilyn died with her youth and beauty still intact, rather than facing the slow, painful decline he suffered.

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