Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Cary Grant & Randolph Scott - Part I

Deeply closeted Hollywood Lovers

Cary Grant and Randolph Scott

Cary Grant & Randolph Scot share an intimate moment outside their Santa Monica beach house (1930s).

Though he married women five times, movie star Cary Grant (1904-1986) enjoyed many gay relationships during his early career in New York and Hollywood. His most famous same-sex romance was with fellow actor Randolph Scott (1898-1987), the rugged star of numerous westerns.

Grant and Scott met at Paramount Studios in 1932 and were immediately attracted to each other. Soon after, they moved in together, sharing a house at 2177 W. Live Oak Drive near Griffith Park in Hollywood. The arrangement was explained away by studio public relations agents as a way for two young actors to “cut costs and share expenses,” even though both men could easily afford their own homes. Even after Grant’s marriage to Virginia Cherrill, the two men continued co-habiting. Cherrill simply moved into the house with the two lovers for the duration of her 13-month marriage. In her 1935 divorce settlement from Grant, she received $50,000, which was equivalent to 50% of their community property at the time.

Randolph Scott

Randolph Scott (above), beyond handsome.

Between liaisons with other men and women, Grant and Scott’s relationship endured, well known to their colleagues in the industry. In the late 1930s, Grant and Scott occupied a Santa Monica beach house at 1019 Ocean Front (since renumbered – now 1039). In fan magazines, they were  photographed together in domestic bliss, wearing aprons and cavorting pool side or on the patio. According to Grant’s biographer, they believed their public openness and flamboyance would raise them above suspicion of homosexuality. The public bought it, and Grant enjoyed a screen career as a suave ladies’ man for the next three decades, while Randolph Scott made popular westerns, always playing rugged, masculine characters.

Don’t miss My Favorite Wife (1940 - available from NetFlix), a film featuring Grant and Scott as co-stars in a screwball comedy. In this trailer for the movie, Scott appears with Cary Grant at the 1:45 mark.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Cary Grant & Randolph Scott - Part II

Where there’s smoke...
Hot Saturday (1932 Paramount Pictures)

Grant and Scott met at Paramount while making the movie, Hot Saturday, and sparks flew on screen and off. IN one scene a very tall 34-year-old Randolph Scott (Bill) dances with his fiancée (Ruth, portrayed by Nancy Carroll). 28-year-old Cary Grant (Romer) emerges from the rumble seat of his car as he arrives at the dance, and Cary Grant cuts in on Carroll and Scott, and the sexual tension between the two men is so hot that Nancy Carroll is all but superfluous. See for yourself on Netflix.

American actor Randolph Scott reaches out to British born Cary Grant.

The two stars shared a Santa Monica beach house (jokingly known as Bachelor Hall) during the 1930s as well as a mansion in Los Feliz (2177 West Live Oak Drive* – the house still stands). The two cohabitated for 11 years and remained friends throughout their lives, and between them had seven marriages. Randolph Scott’s career reached its peak in the 1950s, when he was the king of Hollywood westerns.

Both went on to marry heiresses. It is well known that Grant was married to Barbara Hutton. Scott was married to heiress Marion DuPont for three years, but they did not live together or have a sexual relationship. Scott remained in Los Angeles, while Marion pursued her equestrian interests at her estate in Virginia; Montpelier, her 55-room mansion in Orange, Virginia, was the ancestral and retirement home of President James Madison. Today a framed black and white photograph of Scott sits on a bookcase in the Montpelier museum annex that preserves the Art Deco interior of DuPont’s equestrian trophy room; the photo is the sole reference to their marriage. The rest of the house has been returned to its appearance as it was when President Madison lived there. Weirdly, Scott had served as best man at Marion’s first wedding. Stranger still is the fact that Scott had been born in Orange County, Virginia. Clearly fond of each other, Marion and Randolph remained close friends all their lives.

People who knew them early in their careers said Grant and Scott lived openly gay lives behind closed doors, but, as was the case with Rock Hudson, arranged marriages were the order of the day. Studios had to protect their financial properties and interests. The name "Bachelor Hall" and the reported parade of women through there were orchestrated by the studios, who wanted to keep their valuable actors away from any scandal.

Famed homosexual film director George Cukor said this about the homosexual relationship between the two: “Oh, Cary won't talk about it. At most, he'll say they did some wonderful pictures together. But Randolph will admit it – to a friend.” Fashion critic Richard Blackwell claimed he had affairs with both Grant and Scott; before meeting Scott, Grant had lived with gay Hollywood costume designer John Orry-Kelly.

An oft-repeated swipe was: “Archie Leach was gay, but Cary Grant was straight.” Cary Grant later said that ultimately, he BECAME Cary Grant, the guy up on the screen, because that’s what everyone wanted him to be.

That says it all, I think.

Photo: Cary Grant in the prime of his youth.

The mansion and pool shared by Cary Grant and Randolph Scott during the 1930s in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. The house stands to this day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Henri III of France

The twenty-three-year-old dandy Henryk Walezy (1551-1589) had served only two years as King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania when he received news that forever changed his life. His brother Charles X (Henryk’s bitter enemy), who happened to be king of France, had just died, leaving Henryk with a much better prospect. King of France trumped King of Poland any day of the week. Born Alexandre-Édouard de Valois-Angoulèm in the Royal Château de Fontainebleau (built by his grandfather, François I of France), the outrageously vain and effeminate Henryk took a leave of absence from Poland* to hie himself to Reims, where he was crowned Henri III, King of France, on February 13, 1575.

*The Polish population soon realized that the leave of absence was permanent, and the Polish throne was declared vacant.

The day after his coronation as the king of France, Henri participated in an arranged marriage to Louise of Lorraine, and it was expected that they would conceive a child. Never happened. Though Louise fell deeply in love with Henri, the sexual feelings were not reciprocated. Henri treated his wife as a doll, dressing her up, applying makeup to her face, teaching her how to flirt. Her mild and gentle virtues contrasted her husband’s vice, vulgarity and coarseness. Louise soon learned that her husband was a flamboyant omni-sexual given to wild sadomasochistic orgies while dressed in drag. Among the passions he was unable to restrain was an obsession for outrageous jewelry. He surrounded himself with legions of twenty-something boyfriends, favorites known as “mignons de cœur” (darlings of the heart), and they scandalized the public with their effeminate mannerisms. They also copied their king’s fashion innovations, protecting their hands by carrying small muffs, wearing outsized earrings and keeping pet parrots and monkeys. Even the king’s fondness for lapdogs – especially small spaniels – was copied by his mignons. When Henri changed the style of his beard or moustache, his mignons followed suit. I kid you not.

A real fashionista, Henri changed his garments, jewelry and perfumes several times a day. He showed little interest in typically masculine pursuits such as hunting, preferring masked balls, parlor games and the intrigues of court life and etiquette (he introduced the use of a fork to the tables of France, an item of cutlery that had been in use while he was king of Poland).

In fact, the contemporary reports of Henri’s untempered homosexual activity and effeminate mannerisms were so numerous and blatant that some historians dismiss many of them as politically motivated exaggerations. However, seldom in history had the homosexual activity of a monarch been so public and undisguised. His harem of young male mignons was not confined to the royal palaces; when the king attended public fairs and carnivals, his fawning favorites accompanied him in full force. Not only did Henri dress in women’s clothes, he did so in public.

Henri III (seated) amongst his mignons:

Throughout his life Henri had been controlled by his power-mad mother, Catherine of Medici, whose pet name for her son was “chers yeux” (precious eyes). She was responsible for setting him up on the throne of Poland. She had been the one to embroil her children in the hideous crimes of the St. Bartholomew Massacre of Protestants. Catherine was content to watch her son Henri occupy himself with frivolous fashion and childish games, allowing herself to control many affairs of state, marked by religious animosity between Catholics and Protestants. However, Henri’s inability to produce an heir resulted in a succession crisis.

For King Henri III, it all came to an early and ignominious end. Just shy of his thirty-eighth birthday he was assassinated by a young fanatical Dominican friar, Jacques Clément, who was carrying false papers. Clément was granted access to deliver important documents to the King. The monk gave Henri a bundle of papers and stated that he had a secret message to deliver. The King signaled for his attendants to step back for privacy, and Clément whispered in his ear while plunging a knife into his abdomen. Clément was killed on the spot by the guards, but Henri did not die until the following day. Thus Henry of Navarre, the legitimate heir to the French throne because Henri III remained childless, became his successor as Henri IV, one of the great kings of France.