William Inge is one of our Sidewalk Stars.
We have a “Walk of Fame” on Delmar Blvd. in University City. I think the number of stars is still growing. 140 seems to be the current agreed upon number.
The star that always captures my attention sits at 6624 Delmar. This star is dedicated to William Inge. (I wonder if he would prefer to be called “Mr. Inge?”) William Inge must have been a personal favorite of my drama teacher because we studied his plays in depth and I won awards and scholarships doing scenes from “Come Back, Little Sheba” and “Bus Stop.” It’s safe to say much of my higher education and career opportunities came from the work of Mr. William Inge. So, of course, this star has meaning for me.
William Inge was born in Independence, Kansas in 1913. When he was old enough he joined a local Boy Scout Troop and together they were invited to great community events. Fortunately for me, some of these events were theatrical. “Memorial Hall” had a theater and the scouts were invited to sit in the balcony and watch the performances. (It’s great to see Memorial Hall continues to serve the community.)
William Inge must have been a gifted student. After graduating from University of Kansas, he was offered opportunities to continue his education. Partway through his master’s program he left school to find himself. He worked on a highway crew for a while and then began his own path. He was a radio announcer, a high school teacher, went off to finish his Master’s Degree and in 1938 moved to Columbia, Missouri to teach at Stephens College.
In 1943 he moved to St. Louis, MO and became a drama and music critic at the St. Louis Star-Times. I suppose that’s where he met and became friends with Tennessee Williams. That friendship inspired Mr. Inge to begin working on his first play, “Farther Off From Heaven” which was produced in Dallas in 1947. Inge taught at Washington University (1946 – 1949) and went on to create his stellar body of work.
|photo permission given (and gifted) by Lily Morgan, Director of Library Services, Independence Community College|
He turned a short story into “Come Back Little Sheba” and earned the title “Most Promising Playwright of the 1950’s Season.” In 1953, his work “Picnic” opened in New York City and won several awards, including a Pulitzer Prize.
His original Screenplay, “Splendor in the Grass,” earned William Inge an Oscar in 1961.
He gave us and era of stories about life in small mid-western towns.
Yes, I’d say he deserves a Star . . and a lot of Thank You’s.
In learning more about Mr. Inge, I met some excellent people.
Speaking of “THANK YOU” – I am grateful for help from Patrick O’Leary at The Inge Center and Lily Morgan, Director of Library Services at Independence Community College, for their help, encouragement and permission to use the handsome photo of William Inge.