Television

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In Remembrance: Christopher Bernau

Published October 30, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Christopher Bernau made me gay.

Well, he actually didn’t strap me down on some slick gurney and take me into some underground laboratory with lightening crackling overhead and test tubes exploding all around us… But I did come home one day from school — and there he was on Guiding Light, all shirtless and delivering his lines with a sadistic sneer as he ordered the distinctive and talented Sofia Landon Geier, the actress playing his employee-lover, around and…. Well – I got that special little tingle.

Years later, I discovered that some other handsome performer actually probably gave Bernau that exact same sensation when he was growing up. Living his life as openly gay as was possible in an era when that was frowned upon, he seemed like a hero to me. This isn’t surprising, though. He was definitely someone who made an impression on many folks – first as Phillip Todd on the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows and then, most famously, as the manipulative and occasionally cruel Alan Spaulding on the afore mentioned Guiding Light. There, the story of his illicit lover affair with the sweet Hope Bauer (the always honey-lit and eternally warm Elvera Roussel) raised many of the temperatures of the local ladies in my tiny neighborhood like few others did, before and after.

Nicely, in addition to his Dark Shadows experience, he also played a wildly seductive Count in the 1977 Off-Broadway production of The Passion of Dracula.

Unfortunately, Bernau, as with many of that era’s extraordinarily special creative types, was also stricken with AIDS. He ultimately died of the disease at the age of 49 on June 14th, 1989, leaving behind a legacy of amazing performances…and loads of stardust sprinkled inspiration for many a young small-town homosexual who dreamed of bigger and better (and, unfortunately, occasionally unfair) worlds.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Mae Clarke

Published October 23, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Best known to old school terror cult members from her work as Elizabeth in the original Frankenstein, the sassy Mae Clarke was an eclectic leading lady during the ‘30s. Often playing mischievous, hardened dames, she was equally at home playing respectable, upstanding citizens. Forever, to her eternal regret, pegged as the woman whom James Cagney brutalized with a grapefruit in the classic gangster romp Public Enemy, she was eventually regulated to smaller roles in big budget MGM spectacles in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Finally finding a home on television, she was a regular on General Hospital during its early years before retiring from the screen to teach acting in the early ‘70s.

Truly giving a respectable showing by the time the final credits rolled for in 1992, her ebullient work as con woman Myra Gale in 1933’s Lady Killer shows that she actually deserves a much more prominent place of importance in the history of early celluloid. Here, draped in fashions inspired by the Art Deco movement, she coolly and calmly manipulates James Cagney’s hot-headed Dan Quigley into a life of crime. Clarke’s every action here is quietly calculating. She moves like a Nile bound Queen and accepts Cagney’s hovering devotion as her unsurprising due.

Of course, in the tenor of the times, she is subjected to her male co-star’s wraith when he discovers her duplicity. Booted out of rooms and retaliated upon with other indignities, Clarke always keeps her character’s cool demeanor at the forefront and even allows a bit of heart and conscience to shine through as this fast-paced flick reaches its speedy ending.

Fans of her work as one of Universal Horror’s most sweetly suffering heroines are urged to explore the many vibrant colors that she unleashes upon the world here. You’ll be sure to fall in love all over again.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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(Photos, above: Clarke revisiting old co-stars (top) and with longtime General Hospital actor John Bernadino on the set of that show.)

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Eartha Kitt

Published October 11, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Gaia – for who else but a goddess could have claimed her?!? – named her properly. Eartha Kitt is everything – the sun, the moon…an eternal star! Whether seductively commanding Adam West on Batman or terrifying the title character in Earnest Scared Stupid as the vengefully eccentric Old Lady Hackmore, she completely controlled the screen. Similarly, as a vocalist she was at home with the beautiful standbys of the Great American Songbook, sexy novelty tunes…and even sexier novelty rock ‘n roll!

Unsurprisingly, Kitt, who left this mortal coil at the age of 81 in 2008, lives on as a beautiful planetary presence in our celluloid dreams and at https://earthakitt.com/.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Nichelle Nichols

Published October 4, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

The physical materialization of an iconic figure, Nichelle Nichols will forever reign over all spatial frequencies with a Vogue cover coolness and a steely strength of purpose. Sacrificing her musical theater ambitions to continue giving the Black community a powerful presence on ’60s network television via her work on the original Star Trek television series, she eventually made it to the recording studios, giving some standards (and an original or two) a sassy makeover.

Thankfully for horror fans, she also brought a commanding energy to the ‘80s offering The Supernaturals, as well. As Sgt. Leona Hawkins, Nichols mixes toughness with compassion – traits that are especially useful when a group of undead confederate soldiers begin to pick off her charges. Why don’t you do right, indeed!!!

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Va-Va-Villainess: Mabel Albertson

Published August 22, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Mabel GlamourBest known for portraying the (occasionally) disapproving mother-in-law of Samantha on the classic supernatural comedy Bewitched, the distinguished Mabel Albertson made many other appearances on the stage and in film, often playing the matriarchal figurehead to the characters that each specific project focused upon.

In one earlier assignment, Albertson showed she could amp up the dramatic proceedings with a true sense of overbearing vengefulness. Playing out all the destructive impulses of Mrs. Conway, the commanding mother of Julie Adams’ hopeful starlet in the glossy 1957 Universal Pictures’ melodrama Four Girls in Town, this well-traveled performer brings a crushing weight to her fictional actions. Thus, this character’s overpowering persona almost destroys her daughter’s chance at true happiness and, often swiftly and subtly, Albertson makes her poisonous mark truly felt here. Mabel Four Girls in Town

Considering that almost everyone has dealt with the stinging pressure of a mentor or family member, Mrs. Conway emerges as a creature whose supposedly concerned and supportive sense of evil is just as great as any of the grander schemes provided by such notorious creatures as Lady Macbeth or Julia Cotton…a testament to the honest power of Mabel Albertson’s skilled work.

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Horror Hall of Fame:

Among her many other credits, this grand dame of expressiveness appeared on a popular episode of The Munsters and co-starred with the iconic Barbara Stanwyck in 1970’s The House That Wouldn’t Die, an early example of the made for television horror movie.

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Mabel House

Albertson reacts to the horrors of The House That Wouldn’t Die!

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Style Icons of Horror: Getting Wiggy with Days’ Eve

Published August 19, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Eve Main

Have Wig, Will Revenge!

Always more of a misunderstood anti-heroine, Days of our Lives’ Eve Donovan (the always emotive Kassie DePaiva) has recently emerged as an evil mastermind, a character type that fans of horror films are very familiar with.

After kidnapping her daughter’s murderer and torturing him in a warehouse outside of New York City, Eve has recently arrived in Salem, IL, where the show is based, to finish off her revenge scheme.

Eve and Claire

Eagled eyed Claire (Isabel Durant) sees through Eve’s disguise!

Naturally knowing she is under suspicion for her criminal activities, Eve reemerged disguised in a black wig – a perfect terror flick accoutrement – and an accessory put to good use by everyone from Morticia Addams to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Of course, you can be in good company, too – by watching Days which airs, weekdays, Monday – Friday on NBC.

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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Black Wigs in Horror

Samara, Morticia and Elvira: The Most Famous Black Wigs in Horror!

In Retrospect: Ruby Dandridge

Published August 15, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Rudy main

While Dorothy Dandridge is recognized as one of the tragic goddesses of celluloid history, she was not the only accomplished performer in her family.

Ruby and DorothyDorothy’s mother Ruby was a highly regarded character actress, in her own right. Beginning her career as a dancer in the classic King Kong, Dandridge eventually became known for providing accomplished persona work in such mainstream MGM films as Saratoga Trunk and The Clock. In the ‘50s and early ‘60s, she was also a common fixture on a variety of television shows.

Unfortunately, like many of her contemporaries, Dandridge spent the majority of her career acting out the over the top antics of frazzled domestics or appearing as helpful shop keepers to such prominently billed performers as Ingrid Bergman and Judy Garland. Ruby Dandrige

Personally, the little information that is available about her online highlights her as woman obsessed with her career who had little time for Dorothy and her siblings. Instead, she left the bulk of the child rearing duties to her romantic partner, Geneva Williams. Williams was noted for treating her inherited offspring harshly while relentlessly training them for careers in show business.

Thus, as we crawl our way into more progressive times, it may be natural for one to wonder if Dandridge’s maternal instincts might have been more on cue if she actually was allowed to fully bloom as a performer and not have to stare down racism at every turn. While pondering this, we can also appreciate the professional glow and earnest determination she brought to the opportunities that she was given whenever she appears, magically young and full of life, on our late-night nostalgia strewn television screens.

Ruby Dandridge performing

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Hopelessly Devoted To: LaWanda Page

Published July 24, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

LaWanda Page Main

Best known for fully bringing Aunt Esther’s opposition-style antics towards Redd Foxx’s opinionated Fred Sanford on the classic sitcom Sanford and Son to full bloom, the irreplaceable LaWanda Page was also a highly regarded comedienne with material that was a little bluer than mainstream ‘70s television audiences might have expected.

 

Terror fans, meanwhile, are sure to remember Page’s hysterically accurate response to some supernatural shenanigans in the ‘80s cult classic Mausoleum. While the exaggerated tone here may suggest something akin to the less than PC characterizations of Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and others, Page always maintains her control and, by the film’s end, her character seems like one of the smarter ones when it comes to dealing with the film’s bloody antics.

 

Page, who died at the age of 82 in 2002, also made appearances in such favorites as Friday, The Meteor Man and Shakes, the Clown earning her a much deserved and devoted following that continues to this day.

LaWanda Page Shakes

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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LaWanda Page Mausoleum

Pride Month Crush – Michael Philip

Published June 27, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Michael CharmedGrowing up in a small farm town of 600 in the ‘80s, most of my crush material was derived from soap opera broadcasts and late-night horror flicks on HBO. Oftentimes, there was cross pollination of the genres – Steve Bond (General Hospital, The Prey), Brian Matthews (The Young and the Restless, The Burning), Kevin Bacon (Friday the 13th, Guiding Light), Christopher Goutman (The Prowler, Search for Tomorrow), David Oliver (Another World, The Horror Show), David Wallace (Days of Our Lives, Mortuary) and so many others significantly participated in both mediums.

The grave voiced Michael Philip, who played Donna Logan’s bad boy boyfriend Mark Mallory for a year on The Bold and the Beautiful, was one of my favorites of that era. With his smooth chest, masculine demeanor and deep vocal rhythms, he seemed like perfect fantasy husband material to me.

His follow-up appearances since that dramatic heyday have been sporadic, but truly unique. He pops up as a depression era protestor in the Roger Corman produced Big Bad Mama II and hosted the short-lived science fiction series Welcome to Paradox, as well. His distinctive qualities also found outlets in such comedies as Married…with Children and Police Academy: The Series. Michael Frday

Television terror aficionados are sure to recognize him from his appearances on Friday the 13th: The Series and Charmed, as well. As a murderous lifeguard beguiled by a body swapping amulet in The Long Road Home (3/15), he quickly met his end on F13:TS. His screen time as Stefan (main photo), an essence evaporating photographer, on Charmed was a bit more significant and fans of that show hold him in high regard as one of that popular production’s wiliest demons.

In the years since, Philip has continued his career as a successful voice over artist, business man and father…and would probably be very happy to know that I still own that 8×10 that he sent me decades ago!

Michael Autograph

 

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Great Performances: Maidie Norman

Published June 20, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

 

Maidie MainIf there was anyone who could put the fear into cinema royalty like Bette Davis it was the proudly irreplaceable Maidie Noman. As Elvira Stitt in the classic femme centered horror celebration Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Norman enacted the role of the protector of the crippled Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford) with a towering strength. Indeed, the anger that flints Norman’s eyes when Stitt discovers her charge in an emaciated state is enough to make even the most ferocious opponent flinch. Maidie Bette 1

Unsurprisingly, Norman used her advanced theatrical training and keen intellect on set on a regular basis. She often helped represent real life situations by updating racist and stereotypical dialogue on the spot. Even her take on voodoo queen Mama Lou on a second season episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was filled with an unexpected sorrow and vengeful energy. Maidie Man

Because of this defined pedigree, horror fans always welcomed her presence on such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Night Stalker. Significantly, the flirtatious energy and general good will that she shared with Tom Atkins in her scenes in Halloween III have made her a deserved fan favorite of that series, as well.

Maidie H3

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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