Clip | Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life - Rita Moreno on Terrence McNally, plus Steinbeck’s advice

Rita Moreno on how Terrence McNally owned who he was, and McNally on the advice that John Steinbeck gave him that he ignored.

American Masters – Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life is available for 7 days only starting March 25th at pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS Video app in honor of the playwright, who died March 24th.

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- Those times were really, really, really difficult and frightening for gay men and women.

People really were mostly in the closet, but Terrence didn't have any qualms about who he was.

That was a rare thing then.

- Shortly after I graduated Columbia, I had this opportunity to work at Actors Studio as a stage manager, and after awhile, Molly Kazan said, 'Would you be interesting in traveling 'around the world for a year with John Steinbeck?'

And I said, 'Oh, like the writer?'

She said, 'It is the writer.'

So I met John Steinbeck and his wife, Elaine, and their two sons, and they said, 'We've interviewed a lot of professional tutors 'and we were trying to find somebody 'we'd feel more compatible with,' and that's how we began the trip.

Edward and I were still officially a couple, but that says something about our relationship, that I had this opportunity and I took it.

John was a very, very famous writer at that point.

He was certainly known everywhere we went.

His books had been translated into every language.

John and Elaine both had an appetite, enthusiasm, for art, for history, for the best people can make of themselves, and that was very inspiring to me.

John said, 'Let me give you one bit 'of advice if you wanna be a writer.'

And I said, 'Yeah, what is it?'

And he said, 'Don't write for the theater.

'It'll break your heart.'

(whimsical music)