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Home:  >News & Events   >News Archives   >2003

Key West festival honors Tennessee Williams

Feb. 23, 2003

KEY WEST, Fla. (Reuters) — Ernest Hemingway may have been the most famous raconteur to put Key West on the map, but playwright Tennessee Williams is getting his due for works influenced by life in this southern paradise town.

Key West’s first Tennessee Williams Festival culminates on Monday—the 20th anniversary of Williams’ death at age 72 at New York’s Hotel Elysee on February 24, 1983—with a gala appearance by actress Elizabeth Ashley. Ashley starred in a Broadway revival of Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1955.

Williams, who moved to the town on an island south of Miami during the mid-1940s when he was in his mid-30s, won his first Pulitzer in 1948 for his sultry A Streetcar Named Desire.

Williams rewrote the famed play while living at Key West’s downtown La Concha Hotel, although he began penning it as a resident of New Orleans.

In Key West, Williams was known for dressing casually in white, often sporting a mustache and beard. He enjoyed local watering holes such as Sloppy Joe’s and Captain Tony’s Saloon, cycling around the 2-by-4-mile (3.3 km by 6.6 km) island and taking daily ocean swims.

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