Theater: Hello Out There

William Saroyan: 1908-1981

The story goes that in 1934, while a guest at San Francisco's Palace Hotel, Publisher Bennett Cerf was informed that "a young man who says he is the world's greatest author is in the lobby." Replied Cerf unhesitatingly: "Tell Mr. Saroyan to come right up." Playwright William Saroyan was still rambunctiously self-assured a few days before cancer killed him last week in Fresno, Calif. "Everybody has got to die," he said, "but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case."

It was an interesting case. Saroyan was born in Fresno, son of Armenian refugees who fled...

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