William Inge

(Frank) And we’re back. Well, I probably bored you to death with all of my stories about the movie Picnic which was of course, filmed in Kansas way back in 1955. But the guy that wrote that is also from Kansas. His name William Inge. And he was an interesting character. He didn’t start out to be a writer. He was a news broadcaster. He was a columnist in St. Louis and he met up with a guy named Tennessee Williams. And Tennessee Williams is the one that really encouraged him to start writing. But I don’t want to get ahead of the things here. (Deb) He knew everybody, didn’t he? He just met absolutely everybody in his career. And he came along at a time where I don’t know, the arts, film and stage and everything were just bursting. (Frank) Right. (Deb) And he just came in contact with every significant person of that era it seems. (Frank) And he wrote about people that he met and grew up with in his growing up days in the 1920’s in Kansas. Let’s take a look. By now you know that William Inge wrote the play and screenplay for the movie Picnic that was filmed in Kansas in 1955. William Inge wrote several plays, most of which were based upon his growing up years in Kansas and people he met in places in Kansas. William Inge was born May 3, 1913, in Independence, Kansas. He attended Independence Community College, which now has the William Inge Center for the Arts. He graduated from Kansas University with a degree in Speech & Drama. He moved to Nashville to work on a Master of Arts degree, but dropped out. Back in Kansas he worked for the highway department and as a radio announcer; taught high school English and drama and finally completed his Masters Degree. In 1943, he worked as a reporter for the St. Louis Star and with encouragement from Tennessee Williams, wrote his first play, Farther Off From Heaven. While a teacher at Washington University he wrote Come Back Little Sheba, which ran on Broadway for 190 performances and earned Tony Awards for Shirley Booth and Sidney Blackmer. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for his play, Picnic which ran on Broadway in 1953 and 54. It was, of course, made into a movie in 1955. The movie won two Academy Awards. Splendor in the Grass was another play and movie. Other familiar works are Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Bus Stop, which was inspired by people he met in Tonganoxie, Kansas., Glory in the Flower, Loss of Roses and several more. One more note. Summer Brave, posthumously produced on Broadway in 1975, was the original version of Picnic. He commented that he re-wrote the play for his own satisfaction. William Inge committed suicide on June 10th, 1973 at age 60. The William Inge Collection at Independence Community College has 400 manuscripts, films, correspondence, theatre programs and many other Inge memorabilia. William Inge – Kansan! Another great talent from this great state. I’ll be playing the oldies for you on the radio Saturdays on WRENradio.net. And maybe I’ll see you somewhere Around Kansas.

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