A writer, actress, cultural observer, commentator and critic, New York Press Club member Beatrice Williams-Rude is a prolific contributor to this Web site's "Constant Columnist"
page. The story of how her stories came to be published in book form is almost as riveting as the tales themselves.
"A series of accidents," says Beatice, kicked-off by an urge to document and culminated by serendipity - an unexpected, posthumous boon from Don Taft
, who for a time was Beatrice's agent but whom she hadn't seen for years, cleared the way for publication.
"It started out as an account of my longtime relationship with Dale Wasserman
(Man of La Mancha
; the stage version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
and nine boxes of scripts, mostly TV, in the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts), but Lizzie Simon, the author who taught a memoir class I attended and those in the “writers group” that constituted the class, led me to change the focus and direction.
"The book is really a collection of vignettes," says Beatrice, "grouped by subject matter: The Theater and I
(all the anecdotes have a punch line, all are funny one way or another); Crime Time
(including the tale of Ken Later
, briefly my agent who wound up in a block of cement in a Mafia cemetery); and tales of my father’s fractious family and their roles in Philadelphia’s “bloody Fifth Ward
” (see The New York Times
, Sept. 23 and 30, 1917).
"I finished it, or rather, finished with it
two years ago and hadn’t looked at it until I received news of Don Taft’s death. I’d discussed it with him at length. He’d been my agent and got me the role of Ruth in the Levin version of Compulsion
. He’d also been my regular Tuesday night dinner guest for several years – up until he put down roots in Florida.
"We’d never lost touch communicating by phone and snail mail. We’d discussed the book as I was writing it. Because Don didn’t have email (it never occurred to me to Google him) I assumed he was living marginally. I’d no idea that since moving to Florida he’d become a multimillionaire. And fittingly, from food!
"The trajectory: the journey from being “the droop of the third grade” (and also the fourth and fifth) to self acceptance.
"Publication thanks to Don Taft! His lawyer, or rather the lawyer for his estate, was happy with the sections on Don and so..."
Philadelphia born and bred, Beatrice was a contest-winning child pianist, chorus kid, actress, singer and model. She has appeared on Broadway,
off-Broadway, in light opera, summer stock - both "in the round" and proscenium - performing in plays and musicals.
After receiving three unpalatable job offers ("obscene hardly describes them") she returned to school and changed the direction of her life, becoming a copy editor.
As Beatrice became ever more involved in the world of publishing she added new roles: researcher and reviewer. Her essays on theater and opera appeared on "Broadway After Dark" and in her "think pieces" on this Web site's page, "The Constant Columnist."
In the winding course of her career she has had "more names than a con man": Beatrice Ruth (the most theater credits), Beatrice Ruth Williams, Beatrice R. W. Williams, and Beatrice Williams-Rude. Starting in Philadelphia she was Beats Walsh.
Beatrice is an active campaigner for humane treatment of animals, the abolition of torture of man and beast, and for world peace. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, Alan Rude.
Misadventures of a Would-Be Muse
is available at booksellers, including