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.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Columnist Joe Alsop

Syndicated political columnist Joe Alsop (1919-1989), a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander (captured by the Japanese and exchanged), was caught by the KGB during a 1957 visit to Moscow in a "compromising situation" with a male Soviet agent, during which photos were taken and intended for blackmail. When an attempt was made to coerce him into becoming an agent of influence, bisexual Alsop not only refused but requested copies of the blackmail photos for his personal collection. He quickly notified his friend, American Ambassador Chip Bolan, and the two of them were able to get the Soviet agent to end the blackmail attempts. So that he could not be blackmailed again, Alsop undertook an unusual strategy – he delivered to the CIA a detailed account of his sex life on several continents, including the revelation that one of his lovers had been Arthur H.  Vandenberg, Jr., who had to resign in 1953 from Eisenhower’s White House staff, because his homosexuality prevented his being able to pass a security clearance.

Born into a socially prominent Connecticut Republican family, Alsop was a relative of two U.S. Presidents, James Monroe and Theodore Roosevelt (his mother was Roosevelt’s niece). After graduating from Harvard, Alsop became a reporter, then an unusual career for someone with an Ivy League diploma. His prominent journalistic career included stints with the New York Herald Tribune, the Saturday Evening Post and the New York Times, but his position as political columnist for The Washington Post (1958-1974) brought him to the peak of his power and influence.

He married (1961) and divorced (1978) Susan Mary Jay Patten, the widow of William Patten, an American diplomat who was one of Alsop's friends. In 1967, Gore Vidal published “Washington, D.C.,” a novel in which the character of a gay journalist was loosely based on Joe Alsop.

A noted art connoisseur and collector, Alsop delivered six lectures at the National Gallery of Art in Washington on The History of Art Collecting in the summer of 1978. He was at work on a memoir when he died in 1989 at his home in the exclusive Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The memoir was published posthumously as “I've Seen the Best of It”.

Next month a play about Joe Alsop opens on Broadway, penned by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright David Auburn, author of “Proof”. Directed by Daniel Sullivan, “The Columnist” will star John Lithgow (photo below) as Joe Alsop. The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th St., NYC,  April 25-June 17 (previews begin April 4).
The Columnist” Synopsis: Columnists are royalty in mid-century America, and brothers Stewart and Joseph Alsop (John Lithgow) each wear a crown as co-authors of the syndicated “Matter of Fact” newspaper column. Joe, considered king of his profession, is beloved, feared and courted in equal measure by the Washington political world at whose center he sits as columnist for The Washington Post. But as the ’60s dawn and America undergoes dizzying change under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, the intense political drama Joe is embroiled in becomes deeply personal as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment