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, September 6, 2013

Moss Hart

American playwright and theatre director/producer Moss Hart (1904-1961) considered George S. Kaufman his greatest collaborator. Among the hit comedies they wrote together were You Can’t Take It With You (1936 – Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Oscar for Best Picture) and The Man Who Came To Dinner (1939). Hart also wrote a best-selling autobiography called Act One (1959), about which George S. Kaufman said, “I’m very pleased for Moss that Act One is on the best seller list. I simply feel that it should be under fiction instead of non-fiction.” Kaufman knew what he was talking about.

Hart’s wife Kitty Carlisle (1910-2007) was committed to protecting her husband’s secrets. A socialite, opera singer, stage and film actress and cabaret performer, she was married to Hart for the last fifteen years of his life, and their union produced two children. Although Hart died in 1961 of a heart attack at age 57, she lived for another 46 years, never remarrying. In Steven Bach’s biography of Hart, Dazzler: The Life and Times of Moss Hart (2001), the author revealed that throughout his marriage Hart was a closeted bisexual. Miss Carlisle made no public comment about the contents of the book, but until her death she continued Hart’s own attempt to heterosexualize his life story, despite his physical relationships with literary agent Lester Sweyd. MGM screenwriter Charles Lederer and many of the homosexuals mentioned in Hart’s autobiography. In a 1939 letter written by Hart to Dore Schary (later president of MGM Studios), he wrote the damning words, “We shall once again lay in each other’s arms and taste the sweetness of sin – I love you very much.”

After his death Carlisle sealed Hart’s diaries and prevented access to materials that contained evidence of his sexuality. Nevertheless, Hart’s name cropped up on lists of bisexuals by Yamaguchi Fletcher, Adrien Saks and others.

Suffering from writer’s block, manic depression and numerous nervous breakdowns, Hart developed an addiction to psychoanalysis. His therapist, Lawrence Kubie, strongly disapproved of Hart’s gay alliances and pushed him into eventually adopting an entirely heterosexual lifestyle. Kubie was known for “conversion therapy” that resulted in redirecting gay or bisexual patients to heterosexual lives. Kubie saw Hart twice a day and conducted shock therapy once a week. As a result, at age 42, Hart married Kitty Carlisle, an act that greatly surprised most of his friends and associates. After getting married, Hart ended his friendships with many "out" gay men, but Arthur Laurents reported his embarrassment at the wedding reception at Hart’s house in Bucks County, PA, when Hart suggested that the men take all their clothes off when there were no women around. Following a performance by Kitty Carlisle at Bucks County Playhouse in 1948, Hart proudly presented his infant son to the audience, declaring, "Now they won't be able to say I'm gay anymore."

Although a tortured man psychologically, Hart enjoyed tremendous professional success. He directed huge Broadway hits such as My Fair Lady (1956 – Tony Award for Best Director) and Camelot (1960). During the latter production, actor Robert Goulet maintained that Hart behaved in a “notably flirtatious manner” toward him; others involved in Camelot confirmed this. Hart’s screenplays included major successes such as A Star Is Born (1954) and Gentlemen’s Agreement (1947).

Personal note from your blogger: One of the first professional stage productions I ever saw was a revival of Hart's Light Up the Sky.

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