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In 1947, Tennessee Williams met and fell in love with Frank Merlo, a second generation Sicilian American who had served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. Merlo proved to be a calming influence on Tennessee, and it was during this period that the playwright produced some of his greatest works. Then, in 1961, Merlo died of lung cancer and Williams fell into a deep depression that would persist for nearly a decade.

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