Happy birthday to the man that LIFE Magazine once described as “a dreamy young man with an unconquerable compulsion to write.”
Here, on Williams’ 101st birthday (he was born, not in Tennessee, but in a small town in eastern Mississippi, on March 26, 1911, and died in New York City in 1983), LIFE.com offers a series of portraits of the great American playwright by some of LIFE magazine’s finest photographers.
Putting one’s finger on why Williams’ plays have held pride of place in theater goers’ hearts for so long is another matter. Yes, the dialog is a thrilling mixture of the perfectly colloquial and the poetic. Yes, the passions on display in works like The Rose Tattoo, The Glass Menagerie and, of course, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are as blistering as those given voice by any other American dramatist, while the characters Williams brought to life remain, for many of us, as indelible as members of our own families.
(see more photos here)