On December 20, 1968, John Steinbeck died in his home in New York. His grieving widow, Elaine, sat with Nathaniel Benchley, the author, and drew up a list of pallbearers for her husband's funeral.
"I called St. James Church," Elaine Steinbeck said, "and asked them if the strict Episcopal service might permit three short poems to be read by Henry Fonda. They told me it could..."
"God! I was distressed by the news," Fonda says. "John was a man of gigantic talent and a fine person. I said to the director and the producer of whatever movie I was making, 'Boys, count me out for a day or two, shoot around me, do whatever you have to because I'm going to New York.'
"At the church I did my bit, three short poems by Synge, Tennyson, and Robert Louis Stevenson..."