I mean, the question actors most often get asked is how they can bear saying the same things over and over again night after night, but God knows the answer to that is, don’t we all anyway; might as well get paid for it.
The Dud Avocado (1958)
What is always overlooked is that although the poor want to be rich, it does not follow that they either like the rich or that they in any way want to emulate their characters which, in fact, they despise. Both the poor and the rich have always found precisely the same grounds on which to complain about each other. Each feels the other has no manners, is disloyal, corrupt, insensitive — and has never put in an honest day's work in its life.
Elvis and Gladys (1985)
I'd always prided myself on how unlike my books were from each other in settings and subject matter. But not until late in my career did I realize that a single thread ran through them, that I'd used the same strategy to catch the reader's attention. It is the old Western movie gimmick: A Stranger Comes to Town. I am that Stranger. Together with the reader I will discover what's going on in that town whether it be Paris, London, New York, Sydney, Tupelo, Ferriday — or in a women's federal prison. And eventually we will make sense of it.
Being with Hemingway meant joining in his elaborate game playing as a necessary mark of respect. Tennessee asked only that you be colorful and that you be honest.
Looking back I still find the 50s the most exhilarating decade I've lived through. The only mistake I made then was in thinking it would go on forever. I keep reading it was all Dull Conformity and I wonder where those people were living. Not on my planet. The fact that we had won World War 2 and that we were alive led to a post-war cultural explosion.
"A Stranger Comes to Town" (c. 2001)
At some point in my life I realized I knew only celebrities, I didn't know any real people. I think it was a master stroke of Fate that in researching the greatest celebrity of them all, I would at last be meeting real people, finding them more extraordinary than celebrities; fascinated by them all and enjoying enduring friendships with some.
Life Itself (2001)
Sitting in the impressive high-ceilinged hall, an examiner had just given me the test on my eyes, which I failed again. She was talking to me but I was distracted by a blind man with dark glasses walking at some distance from me, his white cane clattering, echoing as it tap tapped away on the floor. What the examiner was repeating — and these are her exact words — was: "There is no cause and no cure for AMD yet." The dam burst. I began to cry, tears running down my face, sudden, unstoppable, embarrassing. In the restroom, I collapsed. My arms were shaking, my fingers stiffened, froze, and then tingled. My stomach was in an uproar. And I kept crying, knowing that I would never go back to seeing what I used to see.
I felt hopeless, defenceless; worst of all, I felt timid. I was crying for my dead self. Up to now I'd been congratulating myself for bearing up so well. Now I realised this was because the ophthalmologists always referred to AMD as a disease. For me it meant there would be a cure. Now I knew there would be no new glasses, no medication, no surgery.
I don't make a practice of writing to married women especially if the husband is a dramatic critic, but I had to tell someone (and it might as well be you since you're the author) how much I enjoyed The Dud Avocado. It made me laugh, scream and guffaw (which, incidentally, is a great name for a law firm). If this was actually your life, I don't know how the hell you got through it.
Groucho Marx, in a letter to Dundy (September 1959), quoted in Life Itself (2001)
Her life among the lions on both sides of the Atlantic is not only witty but wise as she brings into focus one husband Kenneth Tynan, one Orson Welles, the one and only Elvis Presley, and not least of all, the lioness herself, surviving all.