The irreplaceably talented Larry Kert definitely knew the glaring disparities involved with a career in show business. Exploding into the pubic consciousness as Tony in the original Broadway production of West Side Story, he ultimately found that role would be the one that he was best known for despite decades of fine portrayals and other significant career highs.
Truly eclectic, he counterbalanced the glaring romanticism of his most famous work as the heavy drinking, casually seductive acrobat George in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, an enjoyable 1962 horror outing from Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Written by terror wunderkind Robert Bloch and featuring a notorious shock ending, this outing has a lot in common with such carnival themed shockers as Circus of Horrors and Berserk.
Paired with the voluptuous Diana Dors, who also played a similar role in the previously mentioned Berserk, Kert radiates with a subtle cockiness and bravado here. But as he discovers that Dors’ schemes contain an inherently murderous malice, this musically toned pro shows his character’s true humanity and concern, creating a complex portrait of a tortured soul.
While winning further acclaim for his work in such theater projects as Cabaret and Company, replacing both male leads in their initial runs to great renown, Kert was also spoken about highly by colleagues who admired his courage in being openly gay in a period of time when that was considered unacceptable. Although, it has been noted that he was called out by some closeted gay creatives for being too carefree and obvious about his orientation, a double-edged sword that he seemingly rode with great finesse and steely resolve.
Sadly, this strong willed and courageous performer lost his life to AIDS at the age of 60 in 1991. His memory, though, lives on through all the proud gay horror fans who appreciate his small contribution to the art of fear and the even bigger ones he made to our visibility in the fields of creativity and beyond.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!
Providing the ‘40s singing voice for everyone from MGM’s Vera Ellen to the stunning Rita Haworth, the versatile Anita Ellis earned her terror pedigree by having her vocals included in the 1964 horror cheese fest The Flesh Eaters. The sister of Larry Kert, the gay actor-singer who found acclaim in the original stage production of West Side Story, Ellis eventually courted success as a jazz singer in her latter day career – even though a particularly vicious form of stage fright often robbed her of her voice.
Still, her talent and skill will forever reverberate in numbers such as this.
Best known for her career defining performance as Maria in the original Broadway production of West Side Story, the exquisite Carol Lawrence also cavorted, gracefully, across television screens on such shows as Murder, She Wrote, Hawaii Five-O and General Hospital.
As other urbane divas before her, Lawrence showed her horror roots by flirting with danger in the 1978 made for TV film Summer of Fear (AKA Stranger in Our House). Directed by the legendary maestro of terror, Wes Craven, here Lawrence found herself being threatened by the supernaturally enhanced Lee Purcell. Nicely, this beloved cult piece that offered Linda Blair a place to hone her act as a feisty damsel in distress, has recently been given a deluxe Blu-ray release by Music Box Films.
That is reason to celebrate, as Lawrence did in 1965, that some people do understand our needs as horror fans…and that they most certainly “got rhythm”!