11-26-1905

Emlyn Williams

EMLYN WILLIAMS, Welsh actor, born (d: 1987); Although he was already known as a playwright and stage actor, Emlyn Williams became famous in 1935 for playing the baby-faced psychopath murderer Dan in his own Night Must Fall. He became an international celebrity three years later when his autobiographical play The Corn is Green was first performed. It has been said many times that Williams’s plays are eminently theatrical and readable, even though they are somewhat shallow, sentimental and dependent on melodramatic effects. But these shortcomings were obviated by Williams’s charm, intelligence, and moral integrity – qualities he demonstrated as a director and an actor, on both stage and screen. He often appeared in his own plays, and was famous for his one-man-show, with which he toured the world, playing Charles Dickens in an evening of readings from Dickens’ novels.

He wrote a two-volume autobiographical George (his original first name) and Emlyn (the middle name he adopted for the stage). In Emlyn he recounts the story of his love affair with an actor on the skids. It is beautifully told and considering that Williams was a married man with children when he wrote it, is boldly courageous in its honesty. He also describes his Gay life in New York in the 1920s, including a rather hilarious scene at the Everard Baths regarding someone’s false teeth coming loose in an act of fellatio. When’s the last time you read a book by a living, married celebrity that recounted a night at the tubs? Read his…he is an honest man and can be trusted to be authentic.

This writer had the privilege of dining with Williams on a number of occasions in Los Angeles in the early 80s. The first time, seated next to Williams (I was the fresh young thing at the time) I watched as a dessert bowl of plain vanilla ice cream was set before him. He asked me to pass him the peppermill, which I did, and he proceeded to grind a healthy dusting of the pepper all over his ice cream. To this day, I do the same. It is delicious and so was he.