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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Session:         Page of 1029

Gene stood up, for once in his life, and told her, “I wouldn't dream of it. You go home without me!”

I said to Carlotta, “Don't worry; we'll get him home.” They lived just about a mile away. So Carlotta swept out of the house in a rage, and when she was gone it was as though Gene had been released from prison. I can still remember him singing these obscene sea chanties with Burl playing the accompaniment. It was an enchanting evening, and the maids were sitting on the stairs listening upstairs, and my young son Chris I collared a couple of times and chased him back to bed.

That was one of the last times I saw Gene before he got really sick up in Boston. Those are a few of my cherished memories of Eugene O'Neill.

Q:

He was considered and is revived today as a great playwright. Were you constantly aware that he was trying to figure out people so that he could portray them? How did he have this innate sense to come forth with so much?

Cerf:

When he first came around to the Provincetown Playhouse (Eleanor Fitzgerald was one of his great helpers because she had faith in him when nobody had heard of him), Gene was a shiftless nobody. But then he wrote “The Emperor Jones” and the “Seven Plays of the Sea.” He was born with absolute genius.

Q:

You don't know how this developed.





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