NOVEMBER 6, 1943
NEW YORK, Friday—Yesterday was a long and busy day. It started out by going to a radio party for the benefit of servicemen. Everyone who came to the theatre, where I answered questions in a broadcast on Bessie Beatty's hour, brought a present, which was to be given to servicemen in the hospitals here. Flowers were donated in great quantities by the metropolitan florists and taken out to the hospitals by the Gray Ladies of the Red Cross Chapters here.
After answering questions on the air, I did a little more Christmas shopping, one or two errands, visited a friend who is ill, and finally reached 99 Park Avenue at about a quarter past five. A party here was in honor of the people who provide amusement in New York City and give tickets for their various entertainments to the servicemen.
On this occasion, I gave out the five millionth ticket given free to servicemen. In addition, many more tickets are sold at half price to officers in the junior grades. I often marvel at the generosity of these people in New York City, who set aside some of their best seats to be given to these boys.
The most exciting part of the whole day was the opportunity a friend of mine provided. He gave me six seats to see Paul Robeson in "Othello." It is a tense and moving play and is most beautifully acted and produced. As a character, Othello has never seemed to me completely convincing, even with Shakespeare's wonderful understanding of human nature.
I have never felt that a man who must have understood men so well, could have been so easily fooled by Iago as Othello is supposed to have been. Perhaps I do not fully comprehend the strength of jealousy, and how it can blind and warp ordinarily sane human beings. I have seen it make people petty, small and cruel, but the complete overthrow of a man's judgment, which it apparently accomplished in the story of Othello, has always been somewhat unconvincing to me.
May I be forgiven for lese majesty in criticizing the greatest master of delineation of human character. Perhaps, however, Shakespeare's greatness is shown by the fact that one still wants to treat his play as though the people were people one might meet today, not people who have been dead hundreds of years.
This morning I went out early to do a recording and various other errands before taking the train back to Washington.