Monday, June 4, 2012

Happy birthday, Robert Anderson

Robert Anderson
It is the birthday of playwright and screenwriter Robert Anderson (1917), whose Broadway play Tea and Sympathy (1953) was the story of a sensitive, artistic prep school boy who falls in love with the housemaster's wife. Anderson, who was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, based the play on personal experience. In the play, the housemaster's wife draws the young man into an sexual encounter, then later leaves her husband. At the end of the play she takes the student in her arms and says, "Years from now when you talk of this, and you will, be kind." The play starred Deborah Kerr and John Kerr (who were not related). They also starred in the 1956 film adaptation. Anderson also wrote Silent Night, Lonely Night (1959), a Christmas story about two married strangers who are instantly attracted to each other; You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running (1967), a collection of four one-act comedies about sex; and I Never Sang For My Father (1968), a middle-aged college professor's difficult relationship with his father. Anderson also wrote screenplays for The Nun's Story (1959) and The Sand Pebbles (1966). Anderson's first wife, Phyllis Stohl, was a playwright's agent and director. She died of cancer in 1956. He wrote about the experience of caring for her over several years in a novel, After (1973). Anderson married actress Teresa Wright in 1959. They divorced after 19 years but remained close friends.

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