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TopBilled

Angela Lansbury, gay icon

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I was reading up on Lansbury for a Golden Age roll call post I was writing (to appear later this week). There was a lot about her background and early days in show biz that was new to me. A common theme in her life, then and later on, seems to have been her connection with the gay male subculture.

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Her first professional job as an entertainer found her singing tunes in Canada that were written by Noel Coward. Then when she first arrived in Hollywood she and her mother had a lot of gay artist friends-- including writer John Van Druten who wrote the screenplay for MGM's GASLIGHT and helped Angela get cast in the picture. Next, she appeared with Hurd Hatfield in the studio's version of THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, based on Oscar Wilde's story. Her costar was gay actor Hurd Hatfield, with whom she stayed close over the years.

 

A short time later, Angela married a homosexual, actor Richard Cromwell. Of course, the marriage didn't last but they remained lifelong friends.

 

In the 60s, Angela became a musical theater star with her performance as Mame. This was followed in the 70s by her version of Gypsy. During these years she developed a huge gay following.

 

Obviously, she has fans from all walks of life and seems to appeal to many different types of audiences. But it seems like there is a recurring theme in her life that involves professional associations with gay men and entertainment that endears her to gay men.

 

Thoughts..?

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Yes, but does she support our civil right to marry and have children? 

Not sure where you're going with that, hep. Are you suggesting that she doesn't support marriage equality? 

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Not sure where you're going with that, hep. Are you suggesting that she doesn't support marriage equality? 

It's possible. She is Republican. 

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It's possible. She is Republican. 

Okay. I don't know much about her politics. But she seems like a fair-minded person in some of the interviews I've read.

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Okay. I don't know much about her politics. But she seems like a fair-minded person in some of the interviews I've read.

Well, Republicans can be fair minded. She may be one of the remaining few who aren't on the current election cycle. 

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A while back when I was doing my homework for those "Year In Hollywood" posts, I recall reading somewhere that she openly attended a showing of Boys In The Sand and vocalized her approval. Clearly this suggests she was quite accepting of a lot of things. However I could not find my original source, so I didn't include that trivia footnote in the posts for 1971 (even though she is mentioned in regards to that year's Bedknobs And Broomsticks).

 

No Angela here in this video, but others who went to see it in late 1971 and early '72 have fond memories... and apparently society was a little more broadminded back then than they are today, especially with all of the politicians from the Far Right being so loud and angry these days.

 

 

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Angela Lansbury is a Democrat and has voted for Barack Obama in the past.

She must've jumped ship when it was getting too crazy

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When I started this thread a few months ago, I thought people would discuss Angela's stage and screen work. Also, how she has many fans in the gay community. I had no idea we'd get into this discussion about her politics. 

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You'll be mad at me,TopBilled, for going way off topic here, but I must confess that all of this is still an entertaining read. I never knew Angela's politics but I always sensed she was more "liberal" than "conservative". Not sure how she voted in elections, but we have this information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Lansbury#Personality_and_personal_life

 

She is a supporter of the United States Democratic Party and the British Labour Party.

 

Here's the funny issue...

 

Stars, like politicians, change their parties over time... just as the parties often change. Like Eisenhower pre-1950, Ronald Reagan was a Democrat prior to (somebody can correct me here) 1962. I think Charlton Heston was pretty liberal in the sixties... and also anti-guns, believe it or not. Often the more passionate you are about things, the more likely you will swing from one party to the other... and change your mind on issues. To me, a celebrity's politics reflect their personality and background (and psychology too)... and that is always interesting in itself. Loretta Young was a passionate conservative, but I have sensed this as partly her way of compensating for her own inadequacies and questionable guilt; she viewed herself as a "sinner", even though one could argue that Clark Gable likely took advantage of her during the filming of Call Of The Wild against her will. Likewise, Walt Disney was fairly liberal and supportive of New Deal politics when he was young, but after getting burned in the 1941 animators strike, he started swinging towards the right, naming names for the House of UnAmerican Activities and even supporting Goldwater in the last election he saw. Personal reasons often impact things. One key reason Henry Fonda tended to be liberal his whole life was because he saw an actual lynching when he was young and quite horrified, since liberal politicians tend to fight more for social justice than conservative ones.

 

Even Donald Trump was actually somewhat supportive of gay relationships / civil unions / possible marriage decades ago, being a friend of Elton John. Not now, obviously, since the Republican Party currently views the gay community much the same way that the Third Reich viewed Jews. This is why he chose Mike Pence as his running mate. Since Trump himself is wishy washy about gay rights (since he doesn't care one way or another being that he personally is only attracted to Miss Universe models who tend to be female and knows he won't lose any constitutional rights under the law), but wants to please those on the Far Right politically. Therefore, he chose somebody who could be be his "voice" instead of him on that matter.

 

On another note: Ronald Reagan was outspoken against Jerry Falwell and Anita Bryant's anti-gay campaigns in 1977 and was close friends with Rock Hudson and other gay performers (even if many were "closeted" at the time). By 1982, he was supporting some of the new anti-gay legislation being pushed as president and pretty much ignoring the AIDS crisis, which he should have considered a national state of emergency just as Gerald Ford had done with the Legionnaires disease crisis of 1976.

 

Then again, like Trump, Reagan knew HE would not be impacted by any discriminatory legislation he was tolerant of, since he was "hetero-normal". This brings up another issue. You generally become concerned if you or somebody in your family / personal relationships is impacted by politics that may endanger individuals' rights as citizens. If you don't care because you are Caucasian, Christian and Heterosexual (the Big Three requirements you need to avoid any discrimination in the United States), then all of the news of, say, Mike Pence trying to pass discriminatory laws in Indiana a year or two ago, will have no impact on how you vote. Yet despite Ronald Reagan being friends with Rock Hudson and pretending AIDS did not exist, Elizabeth Taylor was also friends of him as well... and like Reagan, she was not gay, but she fought a ferocious battle to bring awareness and a possible cure. I don't think she did it so much because of personal reasons, but because she genuinely cared about those who suffered a.k.a. Audrey Hepburn.

 

Sorry. Time to go back on topic. I do agree that your performance on screen & stage is more important than your politics, but politics still reflects your personality.

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When I started this thread a few months ago, I thought people would discuss Angela's stage and screen work. Also, how she has many fans in the gay community. I had no idea we'd get into this discussion about her politics. 

Well, to be fair, many of have stated on here and other TCM internet presences that Lansbury was a Republican, and while it is possible to be a Republican and socially liberal, I just commented the way I did because that was a CFU understood truth, and I should have verified on my own before going on and posting it here. 

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Well, to be fair, many of have stated on here and other TCM internet presences that Lansbury was a Republican, and while it is possible to be a Republican and socially liberal, I just commented the way I did because that was a CFU understood truth, and I should have verified on my own before going on and posting it here. 

 

Thanks for taking the 'high road' hepclassic. I have nothing against people showing an interest in Angela Lansbury's politics. I just never considered her a very politically minded person. Perhaps I've been wrong.

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Stars, like politicians, change their parties over time... 

 

Right...stars are like regular folks in this regard...they sometimes change their minds and their political beliefs.

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Thanks for taking the 'high road' hepclassic. I have nothing against people showing an interest in Angela Lansbury's politics. I just never considered her a very politically minded person. Perhaps I've been wrong.

Well, in her case, and given one of her essentials, it's kind of hard to not let conversations run their natural course. 

 

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I mean, the cards fall where they fall.... :)

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Well, in her case, and given one of her essentials, it's kind of hard to not let conversations run their natural course. 

 

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I mean, the cards fall where they fall.... :)

 

I thought about THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE earlier. But just because an actress takes a role in this sort of picture, how can we be sure it matches her politics? Obviously, the character she plays does not match her own real-life personality. It could have been a case where she and her agent felt it was a good part and worth doing, regardless of the film's "message."

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I thought about THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE earlier. But just because an actress takes a role in this sort of picture, how can we be sure it matches her politics? Obviously, the character she plays does not match her own real-life personality. It could have been a case where she and her agent felt it was a good part and worth doing, regardless of the film's "message."

I didn't intend for my reference of that film to get that deep. I thought by mentioning it we could return to the intended goal of talking about her movies. 

 

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I didn't intend for my reference of that film to get that deep. I thought by mentioning it we could return to the intended goal of talking about her movies. 

 

It doesn't hurt to go a bit deeper sometimes. LOL But I appreciate the attempt to refocus on her films. There are a few that never air on TCM, like the one she did in the mid-60s with Kim Novak and George Sanders.

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Well, to be fair, many of have stated on here and other TCM internet presences that Lansbury was a Republican, and while it is possible to be a Republican and socially liberal, I just commented the way I did because that was a CFU understood truth, and I should have verified on my own before going on and posting it here. 

 

Sadly... it was possible to be a Republican and socially liberal in the past. Economics and foreign policy defined the parties then, not so much social issues. For example, many "Dixiecrats" did not accept all of the Democratic JFK and LBJ civil rights reform, while an equal number of Republicans and Democrats supported Roe vs. Wade back in 1973. Today it is very different.

 

It is very, very, very, very difficult not to discuss politics on a LGBT thread simply because so many politicians in one of the two top parties has had so much to say on the subject. Soooo.... when you suggested Angela, who is supposedly gay friendly, as a Republican, you certainly had my curiosity up!  :P

 

Humorously, Angela playing a Republican in The Manchurian Candidate is no different than very liberal Carroll O'Connor playing Archie Bunker. Or Rock Hudson playing a chronic womanizer in Pillow Talk, then posing as a Texas I-only-love-my-mother "ain't these tasty" type to fool Doris Day.

 

Speaking of politics, what about State Of The Union? That makes two GOP roles under her belt, neither particularly flattering of that party.

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The actor, Richard Cromwell, who had been a lover of Howard Hughes', married Angela Lansbury who was 19 at the time for the duration of nine months (in what has been perceived as an attempt to go straight).

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The actor, Richard Cromwell, who had been a lover of Howard Hughes', married Angela Lansbury who was 19 at the time for the duration of nine months (in what has been perceived as an attempt to go straight).

 

How did you know he was involved with Hughes, the subject of one of our other threads..? 

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