gay actors

All posts tagged gay actors

Perks of the Trade: Mahogany

Published October 26, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

Perks of the Trade will look at the varied filmography of Anthony Perkins, the queer performer forever associated with Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest onscreen psycho, Norman Bates..

While certainly a close cousin to the crazed Norman Bates, the role that immortalized him, Anthony Perkins’ take on Sean McAvoy, a tortured high fashion photographer, in 1975’s gloriously enjoyable Mahogany, is initially full of subtle traces of humor and a true sense of professional calm. Of course, as McAvoy’s obsession with Diana Ross’ upwardly climbing Tracey Chambers reaches its peak, Perkins commits to the character’s wild eyed bouts of frenzy with vigorous aplomb

This dedication to his craft is notable as Perkins, reportedly, was looking forward to playing a much more regulated persona and wanted to avoid any hysterical scare screen tactics when it came to the role. But a changing of the guard behind the scenes – director Tony Richardson was replaced by Motown founder & first time filmmaker Berry Gordy early on in the process – forced him to acquiesce to a more anticipated, Grand Guignol approach to the character. Decades later, fans of cinematic camp have to concede that Gordy’s desire to have the actor indulge in blearily erotic actions, such as wrestling a swarthy Billy Dee Williams for control of a pistol towards the film’s climax, surely enhanced the film’s long term cinematic viability – no matter how it might have hurt Perkins’ further career goals at the time.

Interestingly, for critics compelled to look at the real life personal dynamics involved, McAvoy also seems to represent some of Perkins’ personal struggles. Well known as a practicing (almost hedonistic) homosexual in entertainment circles since his summer stock days. Perkins had recently married and begun a life as a devoted father around the time of the filming of this project. Thus, his seemingly gay celluloid creation’s desire to possess Ross’ high fashion lass seems to have played a fitting, if murderously over-the-top, counterpoint to his own personal life.

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

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Honoring Antonio Moreno

Published September 26, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

Described as a rival to Rudolph Valentino, the dashing Antonio Moreno acted opposite many of the queens of the silent cinema – Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow and the Gish sisters. Unfortunately, the public wasn’t ready for a Spanish superstar once sound became cinema’s king. But by middle age, this consummate professional had developed a serious career in Hollywood as a character actor. The most important of his roles during that era, nicely, included outings in John Ford’s iconic The Searchers and the classic aqua-terror The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The latter project, of course, has gained him decades of respect and admiration from generations of monster kids. There, still suave and commanding, he plays Carl Maia, the man ultimately responsible for discovering everyone’s favorite Gill-man…a fact that should fill every LGBTQIA genre fan’s heart with glee.

For, as specifically detailed in Clara E. Rodriguez‘s book Heroes, Lovers and Others (The Story of Latinos in Hollywood), outside of the glaring lights of show business, Moreno lived an openly gay existence. While one always wishes, in retrospect, that performers such as Moreno had been able to passionately embrace their true natures, publicly, it is also always an honor to discover them after the fact and celebrate the perspectives of their experience with a modern appreciation. Moreno, as with many of our gay and lesbian forebears, helped pave the way for the (still, unfortunately, tremulous) freedoms that we have today. That he did so while creating works of art with figures like Alfred Hitchcock (Notorious), Cary Grant (Crisis, along with fellow queer icon Ramon Navarro) and Gary Cooper (Dallas) only proves how worthy of recognition, within our community and outside of it, he really is.

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

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Pride Month Hero: Peter Hooten

Published June 21, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

With appearances in the original versions of Marvel’s Dr. Strange & Inglorious Bastards, the culturally athletic Peter Hooten had an acting career that has left an inspired mark on most genre fans. But this should-be icon, who also had lead roles in the whale-gone-wild epic Orca and the completely bonkers horror extravaganza Night Killer, made a significant mark on cultural life via his supporting, loving relationship with Pulitzer Prize winning poet James Merrill – a romance that lasted until Merrill’s death of AIDS related illnesses in 1995.

Interestingly, in the special features for Severin Film’s Blu-Ray release of Night Killer, director-writer Claudio Fragrasso notes that lead actress Tara Buckman had issues with Hooten’s sexuality, irrationally claiming that, because of his orientation, their love scenes weren’t reading as authentic. Indeed, the opposite is true. Hooten’s energy in the film is decidedly earthy, proving that he always gave solid, believable performances despite the incalculable prejudices of Hollywood and it’s flighty, often emotionally unstable denizens.

That fact alone should definitely make him a Pride Month Hero, 12 months of the year, in anyone (and everyone’s) book!

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

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Hopelessly Devoted To: James Mitchell

Published March 14, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan


Not only did the handsomely eclectic James Mitchell enact one of soap opera’s most hiss worthy villains for decades, but this lucky performer was also one of the cast of thousands, as that film’s tag line so boldly highlighted, to appear in the 1943 version of Phantom of the Opera


Granted, in Phantom, the always attention stealing Mitchell appears for mere moments as a reporter logging the details of the catastrophes that have haunted a local music hall. Thankfully, his turn as the diabolical Palmer Cortlandt on All My Children was a bit more substantial. There, his character continually made life hell for his often revolving spouses and judiciously tender offspring – all storyline subtext that Mitchell fully embraced, resulting in 7 Emmy nominations for the dedicated actor. 

Mitchell, who seemingly never hid his devotion to costume designer Albert Wolksy, his romantic partner for 39 years, also held dear his substantial pedigree as a theatrical artist. Humbly describing himself as an actor with strong movement skills, he actually was one of the Broadway stage’s most powerfully athletic dancers. Those who saw him perform never forgot it and his close collaborators included such mavericks as Agnes DeMille, Jerome Robbins and Gower Champion.

With DeMille, he famously essayed Dream Curly in the ballet sequence of 1955’s Oklahoma, where one of his partners was the beefy, animated character actor Rod Steiger. 

Thankfully, just like in that particular scenario, Mitchell always seemed to come off as unique and individualistic. So, while his one Gothic credit might only encompass a couple of minutes of screen time, the breadth of his career definitely speaks to the multiple achievements that one of our queer brothers could make – justifiably earning him a place in every gay horror lover’s heart forever. 

Until the next time, SWEET love and PINK Grue, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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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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In Remembrance: Joseph Alan Johnson

Published June 25, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Joseph Main

Joseph Alan Johnson is the perfect Pride Month horror film icon. As an actor, he appeared in such ‘80s low budget efforts as the classic The Slumber Party Massacre, Berserker, which recently received a deluxe reissue by Vinegar Syndrome, and Iced, which he wrote and appeared in with his beloved TSPM co-star Debra De Liso, A few years in Europe resulted in credits with some of the masters of the giallo art form, as well.

His greatest work may have been on the stages of professional theaters in Florida, though. Settling in Saint Petersburg to attend to the needs of his ailing parents, Johnson wrote a number of plays that revolved around his experiences as a gay man in the arts and as a proud member of the LGBTQIA community. His works were often comedies, but also truly celebrated the heart and soul and the wonderful fluidity of the queer community.

https://www.tampabay.com/features/performingarts/after-misadventures-in-hollywood-theater-mainstay-joseph-alan-johnson/1215626/

Joseph, Deb, Me

When I met him in 2013, he was attending his first convention as a celebrity guest. We discovered that we had theater friends in common and had several long chats about life and the arts. In one of our first conversations, he mentioned his disappointment in how his career had unfolded, that he thought his mother had expected him to go much further than he had. I assured him that I thought he had done a lot of fascinating work and by the weekend’s end, he seemed to feel the same. It was nice to watch him discover that while celluloid buffs from all walks of life appreciated his work in TSPM, the film that was being honored at the Cinema Wasteland event that we were at, they also knew about and appreciated his other film efforts, as well.

Upon learning of his unexpected death earlier this month, I was glad to know that he left this particular coil with the knowledge that his body of work was not only appreciated by so many, but that it will also live on for ages to come. It also seemed significant to me that Slumber Party, his most recognized work, has such strong ties to feminism and, with its initial script being penned by the legendary lesbian author Rita Mae Brown, to the gay community, as well.

That is a legacy anyone could be proud of. Thus, let us all hope that he travels to future planes with joy and a true sense of accomplishment guiding his way.

Joseph Autograph

Joseph Alan Johnson (6/25/57-6/10/20)

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

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Va-Va-Villainess: Lilyan Tashman

Published November 22, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Lilyan

Recognized as one of the most stylish women of her era, the truly distinctive Lilyan Tashman provided conflict of the romantic and-or deadly mercurial variety with her often vampish, self centered characters.

In 1932’s Those We Love, one of her more popular efforts, her predatory Valerie Parker lays claim upon Kenneth MacKenna’s Freddie, a happily married author. Naturally, this ultimately causes much heartache for his wife May, who is played with sweet determination by the Oscar winning Mary Astor. Thankfully, Tashman gives Parker a comic edge, providing her potential homewrecker with a truly quirky presence, as well.

Tashman is decidedly deadlier in 1931’s Murder By the Clock (above). Manipulating those around her to commit acts of homicide, her Laura Endicott charms and beguiles with determined finesse. Often regulated to supporting roles, here this one of a kind personality takes her leading lady status and runs with it. It is a mischievous and captivating performance. Lilyan beauty

Rumored to be a prominent member of The Sewing Circle, Hollywood’s lesbian network, Tashman was actually married to actor Edmund Lowe, a known homosexual. Though this was by all accounts a lavender marriage, the two were truly darlings of the worldwide press until her unfortunate death of cancer, at the age of 37, in 1934. One can only imagine what other work this striking, husky voiced goddess would have produced had she not been cut down in her prime.

Even more regrettable, one wonders what levels of security and acceptance she might have established for the queer community if she had been able to use her compelling nature towards causes of activism and visibility in later decades.

Those We Love.jpg

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

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“RAMON-CE”: In Gay Madrid

Published April 21, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Roman In Gay Madrid.jpg

Ramon Navarro, one of the more charismatic gay performers to charm his way through early Hollywood talkies, earned his stripes as a Horror Hunk due to a latter day appearance on the Boris Karloff hosted anthology series Thriller. Here, we look at some of his most famous roles in other genres.

It’s the golden rule of slashers – do drugs or have sex (and goddess forbid, if you do both) and you pay the price with the knife. But horror films are not the only moralistic form of entertainment….by far.

Let’s examine the case of Ricardo, the careless youth that Ramon Navarro plays in 1930’s In Gay Madrid. Indeed, Ricardo, who tells impulsive tales and flirts with a dancehall queen, must suffer through the punishing effects of a gunshot wound before being allowed to marry the girl of his dreams, the kind and loyal Carmina (Dorothy Jordan).

Surprisingly chaste for being a Pre-Code film, In Gay Madrid was actually developed as an opportunity for Navarro to show off his singing voice. This he does to solid effect in a couple of grand choral numbers.

But what is most noticeable here is the chemistry that he shares with the handsome David Scott. Scott, as Carmina’s innocent brother Ernesto, definitely plays up his devotion to Ricardo and the friction shared between these two is ultimately far greater than any emotion that happens to accidentally arise between Jordan and Navarro. In Gay Madrid, indeed!

In Gay Madrid 2

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

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Thriller Nights: Ramon Novarro

Published March 10, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

ramon stud shot

Heralded as one of the big screen’s most exotic lovers, Ramon Novarro’s filmic legacy has often been overshadowed by the notorious circumstances of his death. As a gay man, known to hire hustlers in his declining years, this former matinee idol met his end, violently, by a pair of brothers in 1968. His demise has since been highlighted in short stories, books and songs.

ramon mataBut, significantly, Novarro’s early beauty easily matched that of his co-star Greta Garbo, sultry pose for sultry pose, in the fun 1931 spy drama Mata Hari. Later in his performing life, he gave eagle eyed horror buffs a boost with a featured role in the beloved Boris Karloff hosted anthology show Thriller.

In the 1962 second season episode La Strega, Novarro appeared opposite the stunning Ursula Andress as Maestro Giuliano, the mentor to a besotted painter, played by the swarthy Alejandro Rey (Satan’s Triangle, The Swarm, Terror Vision). Working with authority and concern, Novarro supplies the proceedings with a compassionate figure here who believes that Rey’s involvement with Andress could end in tragedy, as her aunt is a powerful witch.Ramon 2

This doesn’t mean Giuliano isn’t up to a little adventure. He accompanies the entwined duo to a black mass which, kudos to the art direction of Howard E. Johnson and the cinematography of Benjamin H. Kline, contains some of the episode’s most fiery and striking visuals. Unfortunately, Guliano finds himself on the receiving end of the sorceress’ revenge here, making Novarro’s appearance an important yet all too brief one. Although, proving the adage that a woman scorned is a dangerous thing, everything does not go well for the characters portrayed by Andress and Rey either.

Ramon 1

Nicely, besides highlighting Novarro’s subtle talents as a performer, this tale is directed with gothic sweep by Ida Lupino. One of the few working female directors in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Lupino is known for guiding taut noir pictures like The Hitch-Hiker and, perhaps less elegantly, for her acting work in such gonzo genre projects as Devil’s Rain and Food of the Gods.

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

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