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.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Part 2: Paul Newman Meets James Dean
They didn't play a love scene, but Dean had his way with him, and it was 6:00 am when Paul boarded the Staten Island Ferry back to his apartment, where he was living with his wife and son. Because Dean bragged about his conquests to his lover/patron Rogers Brackett, we are handed down this story of their first tryst. It was not the last.
Dean told Brackett, “I fucked him, he fucked me, and I taught him to swallow my spit, just like you do. One night I got him to fuck me in the doorway of an abandoned building in the meat-packing district. Sex is all the more exciting when it’s done in a dangerous public space.”
Dean soon explained to Newman that he was a “kept boy” and took him to the posh apartment he shared with Brackett. During the next three weeks a volcano of lust erupted between the two. Paul Newman fell head over heels, and Dean was fully in charge of their relationship. Dean made Newman wear a red baseball cap to match his own, so that people would see them as a pair. Paul complied willingly. Paul was seen on the West Coast wearing that red cap even after Dean’s untimely death.
It was awkward that often Dean and Newman were up for the same part. Kazan’s asked them to take a joint screen test (photo below) for East of Eden, and Paul was devastated when Dean got the part of Caleb. Newman begged to be given a lesser role in the film – any role – but no offer was forthcoming. But Newman’s greatest humiliation was losing the role of Danny in Battle Cry to Tab Hunter. “Losing out to James Dean was one thing, but how could I ever live down losing a role to Tab Hunter?”
Paul’s impossibly handsome face made life complicated for a family man. Rod Steiger said, “He was the Golden Boy of Broadway. Hell, he was so fucking beautiful. Everybody wanted him, and he was willing to share with both men and women. Paul was so pretty I would have fucked him if he asked me to, and I’m about the straightest actor in the business.”
Eventually Newman decided to abandon his wife and two children for Hollywood. He signed a Warner Brothers contract for $1000 a week, enough to buy a motorcycle to match the one James Dean rode up and down the coast in Santa Monica and Malibu. On weekends the two would get off their bikes, strip naked and frolic in the surf, followed by lovemaking by moonlight on the sand. Dean told all the lurid details to his sugar daddy, Rogers Brackett, to fuel his jealousy. Dean and Newman also spent many wild weekends in Tijuana.
Dean pushed Newman into moving into the Chateau Marmont, where Paul met Tony Perkins lounging by the pool the very first day of his residence. This was the start of a friendship and decades-long love affair, but that story will have to wait 'til next time.
Darwin Porter’s biography, “Paul Newman: The Man Behind the Baby Blues” (2009).
To be continued...