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How Did Tennessee Williams Die?

Tennessee Williams, a playwright best known for A Streetcar Named Desire, died at the age of 71 in 1983 when he choked on a bottle cap. Williams suffered from depression and alcoholism for much of his life and was also thought to be suffering from hypochondria. The cap was from a bottle of eye drops. At the time, the coroner suggested that a normal gag reflex, which might have saved Williams, had been suppressed by drugs and/or alcohol.

There has been some speculation by friends of the playwright that the bottle cap was, in fact, an invented story and that Williams actually died after he developed an intolerance to his prescribed medication.

More about Tennessee Williams:

  • Tennessee Williams' sister, with whom he was very close, was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young woman. She was eventually given a lobotomy and institutionalized.

  • His longest romantic relationship was with Frank Merlo and lasted for 14 years. Merlo died of lung cancer in 1963, plunging Williams into a deep depression that may have led to his prescription drug dependency.

  • Tennessee Williams was the author of over two dozen major plays. He was also a screenwriter, poet, and novelist.

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