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.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Montgomery Clift, actor

Movie star Montgomery Clift struggled his whole life with his sexual orientation. He once said, “I love men in bed, but I really love women!” Nevertheless, Clift had affairs with choreographer Jerome Robbins and fellow actor Roddy McDowall, who attempted suicide after his breakup with Monty.

He kept his tormented sexuality a secret from most everyone he knew – making discreet trips to Ogunquit, Maine, where gay men could have trysts without being noticed, then to Fire Island, which was a well-known gay getaway. He had a taste for S&M homosexual activity. Little was published about his homosexual affairs, and he was fiercely determined to keep that aspect of himself under wraps. In 1940 he had his first regular male lover, who was a fellow actor. In 1949 he was arrested on 42nd Street in New York for soliciting, but his film studio intervened to ensure that the charge was dropped without publicity.

Montgomery (Monty) Clift’s mother, “Sunny,” was herself the child of southern aristocrats, but had been given up for adoption. She married a rich stock broker and spent her life treating Monty and his twin sister to the privileged life she never had. As young children, the Clift twins were taken on tours of Europe and tutored at home, but more than anything, they were victims of a severely controlling and manipulative mother.

At the age of 13, Monty appeared on Broadway and took stage roles in New York for over a decade before beginning to appear in films. By the time he was in his late teens, he’d acted on Broadway with Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontaine and Tallulah Bankhead. He earned excellent theatrical reviews and soon attracted the interest of numerous lovelorn actresses. While working in New York in the early 1940s, he met a former jazz singer and heiress to the Reynolds Tobacco fortune, Libby Holman. At 38 years old she developed an obsession with the 21 year old actor, financing a play for him. His relationship with bisexual Holman was likely the last heterosexual relationship of his life and caused him further anguish over his sexuality.

Montgomery Clift brought a new vitality and depth to his film roles. He was a talented, devastatingly handsome actor. When Elizabeth Taylor first saw him on the set of "A Place in the Sun," she said he took her breath away (see photo above and at end of post). Soon enough she fell in love with him, but her feelings were not reciprocated. He inspired Marlon Brando and James Dean, who emulated his naturalistic acting style. The characters Monty played on screen were lost, confused souls, a new, post-war image of the American male. Off-screen, he led a tortured life. His addiction to pills and alcohol and his complicated sexual identity have been widely publicized. Analytical books and documentaries place blame for Clift's psychological problems on his repressed homosexuality.

By the early 1950s he was exclusively homosexual, though he continued to maintain a number of close friendships with theater women. His movie debut was “Red River” (1948) with John Wayne, but his second film that year, “The Search,” is the one that brought real attention to his talent, and an Academy Award Nomination ensued (see clip below). He received further Academy Award Nominations for “A Place in the Sun” (1951), “From Here to Eternity” (1953) and “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961), but never won.

A 1956 tragic car accident, in which he drove into a telephone pole after leaving a dinner at Elizabeth Taylor’s home, severely damaged his facial features, and plastic surgery could not fully restore use of his facial muscles. This limited his range of expression and hurt his self-esteem. Subsequently, Clift took mostly unglamourous roles, only worsening his damaged public image.

A lawsuit with Universal Pictures and growing addictions forced him into a four-year retirement in 1962. In his final years, Clift plunged more deeply into drug and alcohol abuse and wild sexual behavior. He was considered unreliable by studio bosses. Sadly, by the time his companion Lorenzo James found him dead of a heart attack at their home in 1966, he was virtually unemployable. He was 45 years old.

Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor (1951): A Place in the Sun

The Search (1948) In Post-War Berlin, Clift, who portrays an American private, helps a lost Czech boy, a survivor of Auschwitz, find his mother. In this scene, Clift (almost too handsome to watch) shows his finely honed acting chops. He won his first Academy Award nomination for this film.


  1. Thank you for this.

    Not sure it's quite accurate, though, to say, "Soon enough she (Elizabeth Taylor) fell in love with him, but her feelings were not reciprocated."

    I think, in a meaningful way, he was in love with her. He certainly loved her and trusted her unlike any other woman in his life. And he did say that she was the only woman he was ever truly attracted to. Not that I quite take that at face value, or think it means he could have been satisfied with her, or any woman, sexually. Yet, I would not say that Taylor's feelings were not reciprocated. It is much more complicated than that.

  2. Well Monty was bisexual from my understanding of reading of his stories, quotes and interviews even from people who knew him. He even states it here but I'm sure his bisexuality made more pressure for him than if he were gay. Even in the prized LGBT community today, there's still crowds of people today who don't understand bisexuality is a real sexual orientation but try to imagine being a bisexual male like Monty. He lived an off early life that still went in his head plus knowing Nebraska he felt pressured to hide his homosexuality. But he also felt embracing his homosexuality will not make him appreciative on how he also liked females. And he and Elizabeth Taylor fell in love and reported to have such a strong friendship and relationship, she saved his life in the accident. And that's why I feel Monty Clift is always gonna be a huge influence for the professional acting community and lgbt and sexual communities. Because if this could show all sexuality is a beautiful thing than we can also appreciate bisexuality as I wish he had than to have certain phrases of either gender sexually. RIP, Monty. As an actor who supports sexuality in all forms, I wish I could've been there to help you embrace your bisexuality than to be unappreciated of your looks and life.

  3. Honestly, he and Elizabeth fell in love and they created such a strong friendship and relationship that Taylor saved his life when he almost choked after his accident. Actually in my studies, Monty was bisexual from my conclusions of his stories but he just wasn't in the correct time of USA to appreciate his sexuality like with the LGBT community today. But honestly even being bisexual today isn't as appreciated as other sexuality and is reported as "a confused phase and secretly gay" form. But Monty was from Nevada, which is a country like state with old views and felt being gay had to stuffed down. But in some of his phases, he appreciated men sexually and at other times he appreciated women sexually but felt challenged In his head about his orientation. That's why Monty is such a influence on the acting community and the lgbt and sexual communities. I fell in love with him the first time I saw him in the place in the sun and connected with how tragic sexuality can be unappreciated in such a time. RIP, Monty, for you have taught us actors and others feeling challenged by our sexuality in tribute to your life that was tragic and yet beautiful as you are. I wish I could've been there to talk to you and make you understand and embrace and love your bisexuality. :) <3

  4. He's interesting looking, but I wouldn't say he's "handsome". A Place in the Sun is an amazing movie, he probably acts so well in it because of his tortured soul. There is certainly something bothering him all the time, you can see it in his eyes. Sad.

  5. There is not much written about him or his relationships. As famous as we was and still is I find that odd that there isn't a definitive documented bio. I don't think there was unrequited love between either he or Liz as the penultimate fag hag she had many close gay friends. As for bisexuality as an orientation I could not disagree more. Any dude who touches other dude wang is GAY period.

  6. He was A-sexual. No where did he ever admit that he was Straight, Bi or Gay. All the writings about him are simply speculation done by a vindictive, spiteful media. Cliff was a private person, who shunned the media and Hollywood bigwigs hated him for that. The lgbt love to connect themselves to any star like Cliff in order to feel more important.

    1. From your blogger:
      My dear reader. I don't know where you've been living all these years, but the world is chock full of gay men who do not admit it. Likely more than those who do. Just because Mr. Clift never admitted that he was bisexual or gay does not mean he wasn't. There is so much evidence of his homosexual behavior (not just rumors) during the early 1950s that every biographer mentions it.

  7. Gay, straight, or bi--he was a great actor and is missed.

  8. Who cares whether he was asexual, homosexual or bisexual? I adored him in "The Heiress". He may not have liked himself in this movie but it's my favorite. Too bad he died so soon.

    1. Exactly,the human need to"claim"people who are in whatever spotlight,we exalt so many people for doing ordinary things,actors are not geniuses,they are entertainers.Many are in the spotlight for what they were born with,namely,looking good?In these days of manufactured celebrity it is even more apparent,at least Clift and his ilk had training and studied acting(if that means anything)now,if you look extremely good,that is all the"talent"you need..Lame when you think about it really?