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rayban

Grant Williams

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On 6/26/2018 at 11:43 AM, rayban said:

In 1961, Mr. Williams said famously of himself in an interview with Don Alpert -

"I have a private life that I think is horrible."

This is a very sad thing to say about one's own private life.

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Yes, it is, if only he could have embraced or accepted his homosexuality and found somebody to share his life with him.

Surely, the Hollywood of his day was full of similarly closeted actors.

Another of his Universal-International films that is worth checking out, "The Monolith Monsters" - 

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but, to me, the highly romantic aura of Grant Williams was perfectly realized in Delmar Daves', "Susan Slade" - 

connie-stevens-grant-williams-susan-slad

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7 hours ago, ChristineHoard said:

This is a very sad thing to say about one's own private life.

True. Celebrity isn't for everyone, because of that built-in pressure to conform, or at least to adjust. I had an elderly friend at one time who said the worst thing which can happen to you in life is to be known by the public. She wasn't, but she'd been around plenty of people who were. 

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The 1950s was a pretty bad decade for what later was dubbed "alternative lifestyles". I think the average at that time was 8 or 9 out of every 10 U.S. adults between their 20s and 70s were in a heterosexual marriage/relationship simply for survival, employment especially. It wasn't as bad during the war years, the great depression or before. Thanks to the revolutions in the sixties, followed by the Me Decade, it wasn't as bad again. Granted, we have had plenty of politicians promising in the last three to four decades that America would be a better place if it was just like the '50s. Their rosy childhood memories favor nothing "alternative" to what they are comfortable with.

I think that is why I love The Incredible Shrinking Man so much. It has so much to say about conformity and your sense of self. Only after the world thinks he is swallowed by a cat (ironically played by the same feline Audrey tossed out of the taxi cab in Breakfast At Tiffany's) and forgets about him is he able to be a true man. It is also a perfect match of star with screen character. I think Grant should have been a mountain climber or explorer conquering new worlds without a lot of other humans getting in the way. His sex life may have consisted of a lot of brief, hourly rather than nightly, flings... like a sailor at sea who just needed to dock somewhere to release what had built up inside of his system before setting sail again. His wife, played by Randy Stuart, is nice and maternal with him but all of his trouble starts when he demands that SHE get him that beer from below deck.

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I have a feeling that Randy Stuart knew a lot more than she told Giancarlo Stampalia.

I feel the same way about Shirley Knight, too.

I just feel that they did not want to "out" him.

He allowed his film career to shrivel and die out.

He seemed to do the same with his own life.

One of his drama students remembers the night that he called her, quite drunk, and then asked her to marry him.

The next time they got together, he didn't even mention it.

It's a sad commentary on a man who had so much to live for.

But, somehow, he wasn't able to see it.

Grant+Williams.PNG

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15 hours ago, rayban said:

One of his drama students remembers the night that he called her, quite drunk, and then asked her to marry him.

The next time they got together, he didn't even mention it.

My impression from this is that he was a romantic who wanted to be married to a woman, but something was... off... and he couldn't deal with it. Was he even attracted to women?

This book looks very detailed but the man remains a mystery.

Mentioned on another thread one of the biographies on Ramon Novarro, Andre Soares' Beyond Paradise. This is a nicely detailed book most movie buffs would enjoy since it gets into his positive/neutral relationships with Rex Ingram, Irving Thalberg, L.B. Mayer and other higher ups (since he was always professional on set) and provides detailed descriptions of each movie's production, his co-stars and directors. You really don't have to be a fan of the star to enjoy the read. More importantly, the author really digs deep in analyzing his personality, balancing his devout Catholicism with his same-sex attractions throughout his youth, being content with at least two somewhat long-term relationships in the twenties and thirties and using work as an excuse to not marry. He was never forced into a "lavender" situation by his bosses because he was so discrete, apart from occasionally getting drunk, that the press never found anything that would cause his bosses to worry. He still managed to appear on TV within a year of his death, ironically playing a priest just like his very first role on the stage as a teenager.

The cracks started to emerge later in life when his career went into decline and, like Grant, he became increasingly alcoholic and probably even more reclusive. By 1968, he could no longer drive due to his DUIs, among other issues, so he couldn't just go to a gay bar or bathhouse, not that there were that many at the time. It was easier to seek paid "companionship". Soares also analyzes the Ferguson brothers in great depth, especially Paul's very strong Catholic and anti-gay background (being the polar opposite of Ramon's mentality despite a similar upbringing) even though Paul was still willing to have sex with men for money. The murder was done mostly by accident in an alcoholic rage; Paul's "blackout" and Tom's confusing recollections (he being tried as a minor) spared them the death penalty and later even lifetime terms. It was the trial itself in the summer of '69 that exposed Ramon's gay life for the first time, which many family members and closest associates weren't aware of and sometimes refused to believe.

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I have that book, "Beyond Paradise" and I am going to read it.

I've been waiting to get more of Ramon Navarro's work under my belt.

I also have that book on William Haines - "Wisecracker".

But, as of yet, I haven't seen enough of his work.

I have heard that these two books really go into a lot of depth.

I am thankful for your recommendation of "Beyond Paradise".

So many of these gay/bisexual men learned somehow to love women, too.

I always remember a interview with Cesar Romero - he was talking about his relationship with Tyrone Power.

He said that Tyrone Power urged him to get attached to a woman for the sake of his career.

But he was unable to do it, because he liked men too much.

In Grant Williams' case, he simply learned how to hide so well.

In the "biography",  if you want to become thoroughly acquainted with his film and television work, you, as a reader and fan, will learn a great deal.

If you want to learn about his personal life, you will have to put the pieces together from what little information is offered.

But the author, Giancarlo Stampalia, clearly has an anti-gay bias.

And, yet, I would guess that he himself is gay or closeted.

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(Beauty this ethereal was rare on the motion-picture screen.)

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Grant Williams served in the Air Force before and during the Korean War from 1948 to 1952.

He died at the age of 53.

As a veteran, he is buried at the Los Angeles National Cemetery. 

During his short career, he only made 14 films.


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Navarro and Romero have very similar backgrounds, they are both Catholic and Latino.  Romero, who imagined must have had an intense bromance with Tyrone Power seems to have lead a happier life as gay man.

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Oh... if Romero had any interaction with Grant, we would all know about it since he was quite the gossip.

Novarro was born in 1899 and Williams in 1931 and that is important because many with "alternative" interests in their virile twenties had an easier time dealing with it in the 1920s than in the 1950s, McCarthy era and Hollywood Confidential. Novarro also hung around "artistic types" who were more open in self expression. As his career mushroomed, he merely had to keep it all secret from the public, primarily because so many of his fans were women who wanted his screen persona to fall in love with them like he does Dorothy Janis in The Pagan. (Those who want to lust over a young Ramon should choose that title and Ben-Hur for prime viewing since he can barely keep his clothes on in both.)

What was tragic with Novarro in the end was that he was too accepting of strangers. Although America was still very homophobic in 1968-69 and the trial of his killers was scandalous news, in hindsight, it should not have been. It isn't that big of a deal for a man in his late sixties, who can't just go out and find somebody at a bar due to transportation issues, to hire attractive men for companionship even if the California law was border-line about such activities then. As Soares claims, many of those he hired admitted that not much happened beyond mutual touching since he was mostly just lonely and too intoxicated to be any threat.

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Navarro was at the mercy of the two thugs he hired ( sorry but I really can't feel a lot of sympathy for the killers) Navarro's death is very common even today- with older gay men who feel lonely and isolated and meet cute guys on grinder and end up dead.  Navarro's career seemed to have faded with his beauty. Romero aged into character roles- the Joker was a masked villain after all. I really do wish Romero had written an honest biography.

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For quite some time, I've been collecting publicity photos of Grant Williams.

What's striking about them is, of course, his ethereal beauty.

Also, equally striking, is the man's loneliness that just leaks into every photo.

Was it primarily self-imposed?

I think so.

On her death-bed, his mother told him that she hated him.

What was up with that?

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2 hours ago, jaragon said:

Navarro was at the mercy of the two thugs he hired ( sorry but I really can't feel a lot of sympathy for the killers) Navarro's death is very common even today- with older gay men who feel lonely and isolated and meet cute guys on grinder and end up dead.  Navarro's career seemed to have faded with his beauty. Romero aged into character roles- the Joker was a masked villain after all. I really do wish Romero had written an honest biography.

The book on him doesn’t show sympathy for the killers. It just gives background information leading up to the incident, including Paul’s ferocious temper, being unemployed and struggling, his homophobia, etc. The sad part is that crimes against gays back then were treated far more lightly than even today, as if “they deserve it for their deviant lifestyle”. 

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3 hours ago, jaragon said:

Navarro was at the mercy of the two thugs he hired ( sorry but I really can't feel a lot of sympathy for the killers) Navarro's death is very common even today- with older gay men who feel lonely and isolated and meet cute guys on grinder and end up dead.  Navarro's career seemed to have faded with his beauty. Romero aged into character roles- the Joker was a masked villain after all. I really do wish Romero had written an honest biography.

Yes, Cesar Romero was such an excellent interview, I have read.

He lasted several decades, experienced a lot and knew a lot.

His relationship with Tyrone Power would make for first-rate reading.

Perhaps he did write an autobiography - that remained unfinished.

I bought an autobiography by Clifton Webb.

It was unfinished - and then completed by another hand.

Ray Stricklyn, in his autobiography, had some interesting stories about Clifton Webb.

Like Webb's attempts to get Ron Ely fired from "The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker".

Or Webb's refusal to have anything to do with a dinner guest who was leavng nothing to the imagination.

For an in-depth look at Cesar Romero, I would recommend "Hollywood Gays" by Boze Hadleigh.  

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