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, September 21, 2016

Cesar Romero

Tall, suave and sophisticated Cesar Romero (1907-1994) was a star of Hollywood films and television. At the start of his career he was known as the "Latin lover/gigolo" type in  a string of  film musicals and romantic comedies, but he was also famous as the rogue bandit, The Cisco Kid, in a spate of low-budget western movies. However, to a younger generation reared on television, Romero was best recognized for his role in the campy 1960s Batman TV series as the white-faced, cackling villain called The Joker. As well, he starred as a bumbling corporate villain in a series of Walt Disney comedies, such as The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969). Fans and critics alike agreed that Romero was a major talent who proved himself an enduring and versatile star in a variety of roles during his more than 60-year career as an actor, dancer and comedian.

He was also a deeply closeted gay man to his fans. When he was interviewed by author Boze Hadleigh, Romero gave a revealing, often comic account of what life was like in the Golden Age of Hollywood for a closeted gay man (in Romero's instance, also Catholic and Latino). Because he was "out" to all his entertainment industry colleagues, it was often stated that Romero's homosexuality was Hollywood's worst kept secret. That interview is included in Hadleigh's book, Hollywood Gays.

Cesar Romero was born to wealthy parents in New York City in 1907. His Italian-born father had made a fortune as an importer/exporter of sugar refining machinery, and his Cuban mother was a concert singer. Romero’s first job after attending Collegiate and Riverdale County Schools was as a ballroom dancer, and for years he served as the dancer/escort of major stars such as Barbara Stanwyck, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Carmen Miranda, Lucille Ball and Ginger Rogers.  Romero first appeared on Broadway in Lady Do (1927), and his first film role was in The Shadow Laughs (1933).

His life was a full-out pursuit of superficial social events such as art exhibit openings, movie premiers and fashion shows. At the time there was a running joke that Romero would attend the “opening of a napkin.” He was uniquely equipped for this lifestyle, since he was handsome, tall (6-ft. 2-in.), suave, wealthy, witty and a real fashion plate. His wardrobe contained more than 30 tuxedos, 200 sport coats and 500 tailored suits. He practically lived at the Ambassador Hotel’s Coconut Grove nightclub (Los Angeles), dancing and flirting the night away. Romero’s signature trimmed moustache was so identified with his persona that he refused to shave it off for his TV role as the Joker in the Batman series. Makeup artists grudgingly applied the heavy white facial makeup on top of his moustache.

He took a break from his acting career during WW II to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard in the Pacific (at left) but immediately returned to his acting career. Ever charming and discreet, Cesar Romero earned the reputation as the quintessential "confirmed bachelor," although Hollywood insiders knew all about his long-term relationship with Tyrone Power (photo at end of post) , Gene Raymond and other actors of screen and stage. As an interesting aside, Romero’s Hollywood social nickname was “Butch.” I’m not making this up.

Critics and fans generally agree that Romero's best performance was as Spanish explorer Cortez in Captain from Castile (1947). In 1953 he starred in the 39-part espionage TV serial Passport to Danger, which earned him a considerable income from a lucrative profit-sharing arrangement. Although Romero became quite wealthy and had no further need to work, he could not stay away from the cameras. He surprised everyone in Hollywood by taking on the role of The Joker in the hugely successful TV series Batman (from 1966). He also guest-starred on dozens of TV shows, including Rawhide (1959), 77 Sunset Strip (1958), Zorro (1957), Fantasy Island (1978), Falcon Crest (from 1985) and Murder, She Wrote (1984).

Romero died of a pneumonia-related blood clot on New Years Day in 1994 in Santa Monica, California, just six weeks shy of his 87th birthday. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: at 1719 Vine St. (for television) and at 6615 Hollywood Blvd. (for motion pictures).

Tyrone Power (left) and Romero on a trip to South America (shown below).



Note from your blogger: In researching Romero’s life, I was surprised how many writers used the words, “rumors of homosexuality.” Romero’s sexual orientation is based on fact, not rumor or speculation – he freely admitted his homosexuality during his lifetime and allowed writer Boze Hadleigh (Hollywood Gays) to write about his dalliances with other gay or bisexual men. Many fans of Hollywood stars dismiss reports of their favorites’ homosexual activity, but they fail to realize that, for most stars, a public “outing” would have been the end of their careers. Those who knew about a star’s true sexual orientation waited until the actor/actress was deceased to speak about it, out of respect for their colleagues’ careers. Hollywood is disproportionately populated by gays and bisexuals, on both sides of the camera.

Cesar Romero sings and dances his way through Romance and Rhumba (1941) co-starring Alice Faye and John Payne. Such roles were typical of his early movie career. Many examples of Romero's TV and film appearances may be found on YouTube.com

 

14 comments:

  1. Thank you for this very interesting article on a famous actor from the period of the great studios. He truly was a versatile actor and candid about his personal life. Wish more actors today dressed as elegantly as he did.

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    1. My cousin just told me last night Friday, 3/17/17, Cesar Romero and Tyrone Power were an item. I was shocked. I loved both of them growing up, so suave, handsome and talented actors. Being happy together is most important and all that matters.

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  3. Gay or not, he was a good humanbeing and that is all
    that counts.

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  4. Thank goodness in today's world that Hollywood's Gay and Lesbian stars can walk the Red Carpet, be publicly open as well as get married. Find someone who loves you and that you can love, no matter who they are.

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  5. Romero was Caucasian and therefore if anything "Hispanic" from his mother's Cuban side alone. He is not Latino, which denotes a Spanish speaking minority.

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    1. 10/8/16 ☆☆ 6:47am ☆☆ Might I suggest a refresher course at your local university in the science of Cultural Anthropology? These scientists have always classified ppl by their bone structure, & now they have intricate DNA testing at their disposal. Because it is erroneous on so many levels, most anthropologists avoid using the term "White" when describing a "race" of humans. The correct/proper term is Caucasian. Why? Because Caucasians have a wide variety of skin, hair, & eye color plus hair texture. Hispanics are Caucasians. Latinos are also Caucasians. ALL Hispanics are Latinos, but not all Latinos are Hispanics. The following are considered LATINOS because they have a common language base & also VERY similar cultures & values: Italians, Sicilians, French, Portugues, Castillian Spaniards & Spaniards who speak the 4-6 other languages authorized/recognized by the Spanish gov't, such as Catalán & Occitán. In the case of César Romero, this is the first Ive heard that his father was of Italian ancestry. Also, only his family knows if their Cuban ancestors are Spanish-only or have additional ancestry vía the Indigenous ppls &/or the descendents of African slaves. Overall, these things dont really alter his stats. So, Romero's stats are as follows: Race - Caucasian; Ethnicity - Hispanic/Spanish/Cuban Spanish/Latino/Italian; Nationality - American. ☆☆☆ In all my studies I have never come across anything remotely close to what you describe as Latinos being a "Spanish speaking minority." Im not even sure I know what that means. Being "Latino" has NEVER had anything to do with what language you do or do not speak. As Ive written, it has everything to do with having a common language base & a common culture. César Romero most definitely was both Hispano y Latino, "oozing" with the immense charm & charisma so characteristic of these ppls - my ppls - especially during his lifetime.

      (Many anthropologists include Romanians as Latinos b/c of their Latin-based language. I personally choose not to include Romanians b/c they have ZERO similarities to other Latinos. These lovely ppl are, however, very much Eastern European in culture, characteristics, values & cuisine, among many other things.)

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  6. He is not Latino ? Born in USA.by the way in I love Lucy you will see MR. Romero speaking very well his Mother language. American but his Heritage are Italian & Cuban. I'm very proud of all the Hispanics on the 40.50 & 60 that worked on Hollywood. That's way I don't understand why so many years after that time.......... now is the cross over? Please!!!!!!!!!

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  7. Now Tyrone Power! That was a handsome fellow!

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  8. Over 25 years ago I was at Farmer's market in Rome and I saw a familiar gentleman in a dapper white suit shopping. I asked him if he was an American, he said "Yes", I asked was he from New York, and he said "Yes". I asked him,"Where do I know you from?" He asked me if I ever watched Batman? I was so young and stupid, but Mr Romero was a good sport and so pleasant!

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    1. I love your remembrance. What a wonderful experience of an extraordinary man! Lucky duck :)

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  9. I didn't know he was gay :O oh well he was the best and not bad looking either.

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  10. Had the pleasure of meeting Cesar in Laguna Beach in the early 80s. He was very defensive of his close friend Joan Crawford and had a very interesting take on life behind the scenes in hollywood. It was obvious to me that he felt he was blessed with a good life and loved social interactions with those fortunate enough to be around him.

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