My very first interview ever, in June 1974 for RIAS-Berlin (now Deutschlandfunk-Kultur), was – amazingly! – with the great American playwright Tennessee Williams. My aunt, Sylvia Miles, a well-known New York actress (see photo below with Williams), was friends with him and she agreed to bring us together.


Our meeting is seared into memory. We were to meet at his apartment at the Elysée Hotel on East 54th Street where he lived whenever he was in New York. The hotel stands small, elegant, as if from a bygone era, in the shadow of the modern steel and glass skyscrapers of Manhattan’s East Side. It was a Sunday evening, 6 p.m. when I rang the bell just in time for Happy Hour. Williams opened up. He was wearing jeans, a T-shirt, a bright yellow blazer and sandals. He had a glass in his hand. “Hi, I’m Tennessee. I’m drinking bourbon with ice. How about you?”

Surrounded by what looked like a Rousseau original, Chinese art, books, antique German cabinets and photographs everywhere of him with celebrities and colleagues, Williams was infinitely polite and patient with the young and very inexperienced journalist that I was at the time.

Below are three short excerpts from the 50-year-old interview with Tennessee Williams. At the time he was 63 years old. Following that are short excerpts from interviews with seven of countless other interview partners between 1974-1984.

Tennesse Williams on progress in the Black Movement, 1974

Tennesse Williams on liberation movements, 1974

Tennessee Williams on Women's Lib and the Watergate Affair, 1974

Actress Shirley MacLaine talks about art and politics, 1974

Musician Patti Smith on her audience and creativity, 1977

Musician Tom Waits on marriage, 1982

Margaret Atwood on her image, 1984

Musician Neil Young on acoustic and computer music, 1982

Patricia Highsmith on writing, 1978

Musician Bob Marley on the connection between music and Rastafari, 1977