Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Mysterious Death of Tennessee Williams

Today marks the the 29th anniversary of one of literature's most unusual exits.
Tennessee Williams died on February 25, 1983 at the Elysee Hotel in New York.  The first reports stated that he had died from natural causes, but an autopsy later revealed an unusual obstruction in his windpipe.  He had choked to death on the cap of a Visine-type bottle.  It seems that he was putting eye drops in his eyes while holding the cap of the bottle between his teeth.  When he tilted his head back to put in his drops, the cap slipped into his throat, choking him.  Given that he was under the influence of secobarbital, he may have been too intoxicated to cough up the cap or otherwise save himself.

There are differing reports as to what exactly Williams was doing during the last moments of his life, but his death by asphyxiation on a bottle cap is truly one-of-a kind.

Major Works by Tennessee Williams

The Glass Menagerie (1944)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)
The Rose Tattoo (1951)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955)
Night of the Iguana (1961)

Source Cited:
"Tennessee Williams." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 14 Feb. 2012.

And, okay, I also read his wikipedia page.

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