50 years ago today - Jun 27, 1973-Wednesday

[Leonard Arrington]
When I was meeting with the Utah Academy Board of Fellows yesterday, Sterling McMurrin told a story about President Tanner that is worth recording. The Church had put a considerable sum into the reconstruction of the Pioneer Memorial Theater, and when they came to the end of the campaign a considerable sum of money needed to be raised. President Tanner volunteered to raise that last sum of money. As they held a meeting of persons of considerable wealth to try to obtain donations, some person in the group began to raise a question, "Should we be trying to furnish money to this group which have put on some filthy plays, used obscene language in plays, and had smoking on the stage, and so on?" According to Sterling, when two or three others started saying yes or amen, President Tanner cut them off very sharply. He said, "We are not here to talk about that; we are here to talk about raising money," and he would not permit any further complaints of that matter.

Keith Engar then told a story about President [David O.] McKay and the theater. They had produced "The Male Animal" [[A play by humorist James Thurber and actor Elliott Nugent, staged on Broadway in 1940.]] in which the leading actor gets gradually drunk throughout the play. President [A. Ray] Olpin noted that there were two prominent LDS leaders-President McKay and one other (he probably mentioned who it was, but I don't recall.) The next morning after the play, one of the other leading Church members telephoned Keith Engar (who produced the play) to say what a terrible thing it was to be producing a play of that nature. Shortly after his call President McKay telephoned and said, "I saw your play last night. It was marvelously done. I was particularly struck with the talent of the lead actor and the marvelous way in which he portrayed a person getting slowly drunk. You know, Brother Engar, that is not an easy thing to do, and I was pleased to see how well he handled the part." This, said Keith, helps to demonstrate the broad-ga[u]ged nature of the higher Church authorities.

Keith says that in his many years of directing plays he has had absolutely no attempt by the Church to exercise censorship or influence the plays they have produced and the manner in which they have done it...

... Brother Anderson said ... J. Golden Kimball had said-that he would rather sleep with a wet dog than with another man in bed.

[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]

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