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TopBilled

Robert Osborne's passing

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I thought about this while I was watching the Private Screenings with Osborne and Alec Baldwin. During the interview, Osborne mentioned how TCM had provided a cinematic safe haven for people who were put off by modern film's darker stories or more "morally objectionable" subject matter. I think one reason Osborne may have kept his "private life private" may have been him not wanting to risk alienating some of the older, more conservative audience of TCM. You saw the reaction his orientation had in the memorial thread. 

I agree - the TCM audience seem to be older more conservative who prefer the classic films not just because they are old but they reflect a safer reality that of course only existed in the movies

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Your nice lengthy post, TopBilled, reminded me of a couple odds and ends of unrelated interest.

 

I guess one reason I made a big deal about the 1950s (the decade after Robert graduated from high school, entered his adulthood and made career choices) is because so much has been written about how that decade and the 1980s were very repressive with so many in society trying to act as heterosexual as possible. The 1930s and war years and the post-Stonewall 1960s-70s and the post Ellen DeGeneres '90s were more open, if not nearly so as today. Yet, even today, I am not sure if we are there yet if even Robert getting "outed" upon death is still a huge concern to TCM viewers.

 

Cary Grant built a movie image as the ultimate romantic lead with women. However it is pretty obvious, in hindsight, that he and Randolph Scott were more than just "bro-buddies". Also his first two wives, but not the later ones, questioned his orientation. He was, however,  a good and faithful husband to the women who married him, producing a child with Dyan Cannon. Yet he sued those who suggested he might be gay during that final decade before his death in 1986. It just wasn't the right time to be considered bisexual (since he certainly was attracted to women besides Scott) or as you would label it, "sexually fluid".

 

Not that Robert had to deal with what Cary had to in terms of public image.

 

You mentioning how David was not involved in any tours or cruises is sad to read, since he probably would have preferred their relationship to be more open. Yet I do find the situation a trifle humorous since so many old movie and TV "plots" involve families only finding out your "significant other" at the very end. One in particular that jumps in my mind is the 1947/48 RKO film I REMEMBER MAMA with that zany uncle and the woman who is only revealed as his wife while he is literally dying in bed and enjoying his last bottle of liquor.

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I certainly understand why Robert wouldn't want to reveal his sexuality especially considering when he came of age.  As a young man in the 1950's, with all the hysteria about witch hunts, blacklisting, etc., it was easier to just go along with the conservative establishment especially if you were looking for a job.  Even in movies from the early 1960's like ADVISE AND CONSENT, being gay is portrayed as a terrible sickness and you might as well kill yourself if you're going to be outed.  Let's remember homosexuality was considered a mental illness until the 1970's.  As a society, we have come a long way since then (and we still have a ways to go, in my opinion).  Even President Obama was not for equal rights for marriage at first and then he came around.  Being older, Robert may have felt more comfortable keeping that part of his life private. In a way it is kind of sad that he felt he couldn't be open about that aspect of his life although I'm sure close friends and family knew.  On the other hand this is what he was comfortable with publicly and it was his own business and we need to respect that.  I would have liked to have told him, "Robert, nobody cares.  We love you and we thank you for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm about movies and the people who made them with us."  One's sexuality is only part of who we are.

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Being older, Robert may have felt more comfortable keeping that part of his life private. In a way it is kind of sad that he felt he couldn't be open about that aspect of his life although I'm sure close friends and family knew. 

 

Many of us get "comfortable" in our old ages and what has worked for many years is kept that way. Our opinion is "why fix what isn't broken?" Keeping it all private likely bothered David more than him, otherwise he wouldn't have bothered coming public about it after his death. Robert might have been happy with just a select few closest to him knowing. He was, after all, born under a "fixed" sign (Taurus). Lol!

 

I think what bothers some of us is that, while he was not ashamed to admit he wasn't a fan of My Fair Lady for fear of what TCM fans would think, he was definitely ashamed of David's existence on a public level. Sometimes you have to defend yourself regardless of what others think simply because they will continue to hold their opinions until they croak and it is better to just be yourself than trying to please them all. I mean... do you think those bothered about the existence of a David even "bothered" to watch any TCM airings of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Mind you, I am not suggesting that he should have stopped discussing movies in the middle of an interview and start discussing how he and David slapped suntan oil on each other on the vacation beach.

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O'sborne wanted to keep his private life private.  He could have come out during Alec Baldwin interview. It was after watching this that I first started questioning his sexuality.   They even mention his favorite pet but there is never a mention of any significant other.  The gay film festival was another time when O'sborne could have come out and talked about his personal reaction to these films as gay man.   But this was his choice and we should respect that

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