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, October 30, 2013

Colin Higgins

Openly gay film director, actor, producer and screenwriter Colin Higgins (1941-1988) was born in New Caledonia, a French island nation east of Australia, although most of his formative years were spent in Australia and California. His father was an American, and his mother Australian. After earning a bachelor's degree in English from Stanford University, he went to UCLA, where he received an M.F.A. in screenwriting.

Although he had solid hits with Silver Streak (screenwriter, 1976), Foul Play (director and screenwriter, 1978), Nine to Five (director and screenwriter, 1980), and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (director and screenwriter, 1982 – the film adaptation of the stage musical), he is best remembered for an earlier film for which he wrote the screenplay – Harold and Maude (producer and screenwriter, 1971), which has become a cult classic. It tells the tale of a suicidal young man (Bud Cort) who falls in love with a 79-year-old woman (Ruth Gordon). Higgins wrote the screenplay, which formed the basis for his thesis while he was still a student at UCLA.

After graduating Higgins went to work for a rich man and his wife in Los Angeles as a part-time chauffeur and pool cleaner in exchange for free accommodation. The man was film producer Ed Lewis, and Higgins showed him a draft of Harold and Maude. Lewis took it to Robert Evans at Paramount, where the film project got the green light. Higgins wanted to direct the script himself, but Hal Ashby was hired as director. Ashby and Higgins were highly compatible, and both were pleased with the result of their collaboration, although it was not a great box office success upon its initial release.

Later Higgins (above left) received an offer from Jean-Louis Barrault (right) in Paris to turn Harold and Maude into a play for French actor Madeleine Renaud. Higgins took on the project, working on the French translation with Jean-Claude Carriere, and the play ran for seven years. The film of Harold and Maude continued to run in cinemas around the world, with some fans having seen it over a hundred times. By 1983 the film had turned a profit, twelve years after its original release.

In this clip from the beginning of the film, Harold meets Maude:

Higgins’ last film project was a 1986 television miniseries based on Shirley MacLaine's book, Out on a Limb. Sadly, Higgins died of AIDS-related illness in Beverly Hills, CA, in 1988, at the tender age of forty-seven.

Trivia: When Colin Higgins was having a hot tub and deck built for his backyard, he hired a young carpenter to do it. That carpenter was Harrison Ford. 

Queers in History (2009) – Keith Stern


Aggie Song: Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

1 comment:

  1. What a gentleman. Was sad to hear of his passing. When I was 19 I worked as a plant guy in L.A. taking care of plants in offices. He was one of my favorite accounts, always kind and good vibes.