Tenn on Tyne Daly: An Amplified Humanity

Tyne in profile, courtesy of the New York Times.

Interview with Tennessee Williams
Conducted by James Grissom
New Orleans

I am related to Tyne Daly, you see, because I am linked, deeply, to her through her father [James Daly] whom I adored. Period of Adjustment is one of my battered, disabled, well-meaning children, and I still believe in it; it was the best I could do. It was a risk, and I failed. My cast did not, I hasten to add, and everyone should be so fortunate as to be locked in a disaster with such a crew: James Daly, of course, so talented and so easy with his talent: His talent never got in his way, but was a calm sea on which he happily skipped, walked, glided, and it provided comfort to my brilliant Barbara [Baxley], who is so gifted but empty of trust, and James just carried her to completion. Starchy, elegant Rosemary Murphy. It was a fun time--for me, at any rate.

Through the years I would run into James, and I could see him all the time: He was that lucky actor who could be inserted anywhere and everywhere, and he elevated everything he did. He got a lot, but he deserved more, but he is high in my heart. Every time I saw James, he told me about his daughter, and I was exhorted to look for her, and I did. I was compelled always to do what James told me to do--except call him Jim, which George Roy Hill did, and I don't do anything George Roy Hill does. [George Roy Hill was the director of Period of Adjustment.]

I remember specifically Tyne in The Entertainer, in which she was so heartbreaking, so simple and direct and human. That is her primary characteristic, I think, an amplified humanity. Poor Lee Remick called and asked me to watch her in something on TV [The Women's Room, in 1980], and I did watch, but I was transfixed by Tyne's sweetness and futility, perpetually pregnant, perpetually hopeful, always slamming into the wall of reality, but, always--and this really makes her mine--getting back up and hoping and dreaming. She grabbed me, and she owns me.

We can see her now every week [Cagney and Lacey was then on television], and this makes me happy. It links me to James; it links me to a time in my life--the time of Period--when I was able to take a risk and to be surrounded by a company that wanted me in their lives. It was a happy time, and it continues because Tyne is around. I want her around.

James Daly, Barbara Baxley, and Tennessee during rehearsals for Period of Adjustment (1960). Photo courtesy of Corbis.

© 2014 James Grissom


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