TopBilled

Tabloid headlines about stars' sexual orientations

31 posts in this topic

I was reading a TV message board on another site, and someone posted an article from the National Enquirer about a sitcom actress supposedly being a lesbian (though she's been married to the same man for over 20 years). 

 

It occurred to me there are lots of these types of headlines, whether they are actually true or not. 

 

Do these kinds of headlines really sell magazines..?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hollywood is probably the gayest place in the world - but, of course, Hollywood would never admit it.

 

When Lee Garlington, who became Rock Hudson's lover, went to Hollywood to break into "the business", he said that he couldn't wait to get there, because he knew that it was oh-so-gay.

 

Henry Willson, Rock Hudson's agent, was famous for his stable of "gay actors".

 

When Natalie Wood became interested in Robert Wagner, her mother warned her that Robert Wagner was a client of Henry Willson's.

 

Howard Hughes put his boyfriend, Jack Buetel,  into the leading male role in "The Outlaw" - and, thereafter, kept him under lock and key - forcing him to eat a diet that would enrich his "fluids" - and refusing to loan him out to Howard Hawks for "Red River".

 

Katherine Hepburn, who tried to lead a closeted life - sort of - paid a well-known procurer to set her up secretly with a long succession of young women.

 

Anthony Perkins had a long love affair with Grover Dale, and, even when they both decided to go "straight", Anthony Perkins had allowed Grove Dale and his wife to live in Anthony Perkins' New York brownstone.

 

Alexis Smith and her "husband", Craig Stevens were both gay - they had simply decided to get "married" to make life easier.

 

This list could go on and on. 

 

And, of course, it could have made headlines in the tabloids - but it never, ever, did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ray-- I don't want to be a broken record-- but by all indications-- Katharine Hepburn did what she pleased in every situation and in some of those situations there are certainly a number of men involved.

 

I know the book you're talking about; I've got it on audio play--

 

But in terms of this woman, I think we'd have to look at not just audio play but her whole life. However, I guess you could say that some bisexuals are indeed, closeted.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Howard Hughes put his boyfriend, Jack Buetel, into the leading male role in "The Outlaw" - and, thereafter, kept him under lock and key - forcing him to eat a diet that would enrich his "fluids" - and refusing to loan him out to Howard Hawks for "Red River".

 

 

That reminds me of how Howard Hughes ruined Jane Greer's film career because she wouldn't marry him and worse than that she subsequently married another man.

 

People who have seen her in Out of the Past with Robert Mitchum can't figure out why she wasn't a great movie star.

 

Well, Howard Hughes owned her contract and he saw to it that she was off the screen for several years after Out of the Past.

 

Previously Hughes had quite a reputation with the ladies. The two that I can recall--who we're close to actually marrying him as well were- - Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers.

 

From 1957 to 1971 Hughes was married to the largely forgotten actress Jean Peters.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was reading a TV message board on another site, and someone posted an article from the National Enquirer about a sitcom actress supposedly being a lesbian (though she's been married to the same man for over 20 years). 

 

It occurred to me there are lots of these types of headlines, whether they are actually true or not. 

 

Do these kinds of headlines really sell magazines..?

The smirk factor is alive and well in some individuals and in some segments of the population. I think it involves the idea of being privy to things which the people in question "don't want us to know". You're right that there are still a lot of these headlines, involving public figures from the president on down. As your second post noted, Travolta and Cruise seem to take top honors and the tone has shifted over the years from the broader "Who's gay and who isn't" type of headline to more focused articles involving specific (and I assume paid) sources and allegations. Watching it all play out, it seems that the theme has shifted some from the shame of being gay to the hypocricy of not being honest about it, which I guess is progress of a sort. I also think gay people have had a hand in it too, since our own tendency to gossip about such things has maybe given some sense of legitimacy to the sharks in publishing who want to make a buck repackaging this stuff for a wider audience. As to whether or not it sells magazines, the biggies are still in business after all these years, so they must have a pretty good idea of what readers respond to.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The smirk factor is alive and well in some individuals and in some segments of the population. I think it involves the idea of being privy to things which the people in question "don't want us to know". You're right that there are still a lot of these headlines, involving public figures from the president on down. As your second post noted, Travolta and Cruise seem to take top honors and the tone has shifted over the years from the broader "Who's gay and who isn't" type of headline to more focused articles involving specific (and I assume paid) sources and allegations. Watching it all play out, it seems that the theme has shifted some from the shame of being gay to the hypocricy of not being honest about it, which I guess is progress of a sort. I also think gay people have had a hand in it too, since our own tendency to gossip about such things has maybe given some sense of legitimacy to the sharks in publishing who want to make a buck repackaging this stuff for a wider audience. As to whether or not it sells magazines, the biggies are still in business after all these years, so they must have a pretty good idea of what readers respond to.

Great post. Though I think there is still a shock factor-- people pick up the latest copy because they are shocked to read that little Joanie Cunningham from Happy Days (Erin Moran) got drunk and kissed a woman in a bowling alley with her husband and friends looking on. So she must be a lesbian, and it must be reported. 

 

Cruise has sued tabloids in Britain and America for publishing these reports. Others can't sue because these things are printed after they're deceased. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But do these things still have the same impact in our internet age?  In which a rumor goes faster via twitter ?  I think it's funnier to find old magazine in which stars that now we know were gay pretended to be straight for the sake of studio publicity? And was Howar Hughes gay or bisexual or just strange?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But do these things still have the same impact in our internet age? In which a rumor goes faster via twitter ? I think it's funnier to find old magazine in which stars that now we know were gay pretended to be straight for the sake of studio publicity? And was Howar Hughes gay or bisexual or just strange?

Jaragon--

 

You need a little historical perspective here. It's not funny that people pretended to be straight in Hollywood - - they didn't do it because they were forced to by the studio-- they did it so that they would have a career and so that they could be in Show Business.

 

Also you need to remember that there were a number of actors pretending to be white people, who were actually something else - - they did that so that they would have a career as well.

 

Civil rights for all people in the United States is something relatively new--

Really only appearing in the latter latter part of the twentieth century.

 

And, by the way, you're right--Howard Hughes was just strange.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But do these things still have the same impact in our internet age?  In which a rumor goes faster via twitter ?  I think it's funnier to find old magazine in which stars that now we know were gay pretended to be straight for the sake of studio publicity? And was Howar Hughes gay or bisexual or just strange?

It's probably a generational thing. I'm not sure who actually reads those things, but I suspect it's older people who grew up with magazines. Their proximity to the cash register in supermarkets must mean that they're a reliable impulse buy, though mostly I see people thumbing through them while they're waiting in line, then putting them back.

 

I get your point about phony articles on closeted stars in old magazines; it's like those old cigarette ads with "doctors" saying it's good for their throat. From a modern perspective it's more than a little ridiculous. But Princess is right that the social forces which made that necessary aren't funny at all, any more than her point about "whitewashing" ethnicity in order to work.

 

As an older person myself, it's amazing to me how quickly things lose their "newness" and fade. As a gay person, I have personal memories of the long struggle for acceptance and while I understand that the whole goal was that it should become a non-issue, it's still disheartening to see that history passed over. That having been said, I think it's important for younger people to move forward with as little shame and as light a heart as possible and I'm happy for all of you who can do so.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those magazine covers just show me how it is still controversial to be gay and it's still taboo to suggest controversy that someone is gay and that it is owed to the public that they be out with it. 

 

Honestly, for anyone who has been in the closet, being pressured to be out can be as soul-sucking as it is to be kept in, and I don't know how famous people deal with it. Their lives are already under so much pressure. 

 

Personally, coming out is an agency issue- meaning, unless the person says that they are, giving them that respect to be the first to say is important. There is so much speculation that someone is, and so much controversy if someone believed to be is when they say they aren't. In Hollywood, any talk is good talk so long as it doesn't harm the person in any way. So, the pressing pressure of wanting to out Tom Cruise is good because people are still talking about Tom Cruise. Still, if he feels comfortable to come out, I don't want to discredit his comfort by forcing him out of the closet. 

 

As for the classic movie stars we know and love, I extend the courtesy to the privacy of their lives, as they cannot speak for themselves and if they have any living relatives who should speak for their loved one, I would still extend that courtesy because given the extreme time of heterosexism of which they lived, forcing them out of the closet just for our own modern appreciation is on par with forcing an elderly individual out of a bedroom they just got attached to just because you prefer them in a better room even though the family had strict limitations and orders to suggest otherwise. 

 

A person should know the difference between gossip and fact. Sure, gossip is fun, but it can also hurt. I never bought William Mann's theory that Katharine Hepburn was gay and Spencer Tracy was her beard or vice versa. There have been many criticisms that contest Mann's desire to sell a book to sell a book. A dead celebrity is fair game always in our world. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those magazine covers just show me how it is still controversial to be gay and it's still taboo to suggest controversy that someone is gay and that it is owed to the public that they be out with it. 

It's an image thing. The whole image of what the star, his agent, his family, his production company wants us to believe about him. The tabloids screw with that, and those headlines take potshots (and sometimes pay the price in court).

 

But it's not the subject matter of being gay so much as it is exposing a vulnerability. Headlines about stars on their deathbeds or straight stars getting caught in extramarital affairs also expose vulnerabilities. And again, it means that the constructed, mythic image about a star might be on a collision course with the truth. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's an image thing. The whole image of what the star, his agent, his family, his production company wants us to believe about him. The tabloids screw with that, and those headlines take potshots (and sometimes pay the price in court).

 

But it's not the subject matter of being gay so much as it is exposing a vulnerability. Headlines about stars on their deathbeds or straight stars getting caught in extramarital affairs also expose vulnerabilities. And again, it means that the constructed, mythic image about a star might be on a collision course with the truth. 

That still says that being gay is weak. That it is a vulnerability that shouldn't be let out in the open. I can understand the business end of it, but there are no morality clauses in cinema anymore, and no need to cover it up outside of societal pressure. I don't take exception to Hollywood actors in regards to the privacy I want in my own life. If I were famous, I would want those details shared on my own terms, and not forced out of me for scandal's sake or otherwise. 

 

Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet in her private, personal life long before she came out in her public life. I think the way she did that was exemplary with the hinted jokes and the build-up. The backlash, of course, was sadly unfortunate, but also indicative of the backlash still received today, albeit calmer.  Still, she came out publicly on her own terms, which, in fame, is better than being forced to come out, like people still do to Queen Latifah for example. 

 

I understand what you mean about image, but I remember that, as an actor myself, non-famous at that, that I portray many images of humanity. If I were to add fame to that, that would limit me based on sellable image, but we aren't living in the '50s anymore where we have to hide and duck and cover from possible arrests. Still, we haven't unlearned the behavior of forcing out anyone different from ourselves to say so. If Tom Cruise wants to come out of the closet, that's on him. I may not respect him all too much, but I respect his right to privacy and his right to cue the public when the time comes if the time comes. 

 

Speculation is healthy, but suggesting a famous actor is gay without their say is not okay, because fame doesn't take away from suicide statistics, for which GLBT individuals still suffer the risk off in today's "modern" world. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That still says that being gay is weak. 

You're right, it does. And there's nothing wrong with saying that, because for some people it is still true. That their sexuality is a weakness and a vulnerability (thus putting them at the mercy of tabloids). You personally may not agree with it, but it's a reality for a lot of closeted people in Hollywood.

 

Going back to your analogy about moving a person from one room to another. We cannot move all the gay actors into a politically correct room of pride, because that is not how life works. And that is why the tabloids continue to have power over these vulnerable areas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're right, it does. And there's nothing wrong with saying that, because for some people it is still true. That their sexuality is a weakness and a vulnerability (thus putting them at the mercy of tabloids). You personally may not agree with it, but it's a reality for a lot of closeted people in Hollywood.

 

Going back to your analogy about moving a person from one room to another. We cannot move all the gay actors into a politically correct room of pride, because that is not how life works. And that is why the tabloids continue to have power over these vulnerable areas.

But other people give those tabloids that power, rather than stop and think about the merits and questioning it. Like, assuming that we know Tom Cruise's sexuality than he does, and justifying the supposed closet around him that fame and heterosexism has created for every GLBT individual famous or not. That's not only disrespectful towards his agency, but ours too. That's why we lose when we assume. 

 

As for the classic movie stars who have had a following in the GLBT community, I think it is not wrong to challenge the assumptions. It is one of the daily trias of being GLBT in a heterosexual America. To challenge. To stand up to the powers, and to not fall prey to them just because he or she is famous and you aren't. To stand up to those who don't like the attention, calling it a distraction, and directly and indirectly saying it is wrong to be gay. The world may work a certain way, but it hasn't always worked a certain way in the past, and it's stupid to think it will work the same way in the future. 

 

Personally, I can understand the modern confusion of not knowing what to call someone's sexual and gender identity, but not budging from terms that will continue to change as the human mind evolves in time and then blaming what you don't understand on the people you don't understand. The only cue to go from in that respect is heterosexuals who discriminate openly with their whining about political correctness. Well, they set the terms of what is offensive while also setting the offense. They need to learn from their prejudices and do better by the people whom they meet and know and come out to do so. Time will march on, and it will continue to. Maybe in 50 years, it won't be tabloid controversy to speculate an actor's sexual identity, because it wouldn't be a scandal by then. The work we do today will better the future for tomorrow. Some of us have to get off our lazy bums and work. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know that in the studio era the stars were forced to play the straight role because that is how they were sold to the public. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know that in the studio era the stars were forced to play the straight role because that is how they were sold to the public. 

Yes, Natalie Wood was Tab Hunter's "beard" - she accompanied him on many a date and, then, let me hook up with his real date, usually Tony Perkins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, Natalie Wood was Tab Hunter's "beard" - she accompanied him on many a date and, then, let me hook up with his real date, usually Tony Perkins.

 

I think before this period of time, Natalie Wood was really close with Raymond Burr. People were very puzzled about the whole thing because she was a great deal younger than him.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think before this period of time, Natalie Wood was really close with Raymond Burr. People were very puzzled about the whole thing because she was a great deal younger than him.

Not sure if you're joking, but that's the funniest thing I have read today..!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure if you're joking, but that's the funniest thing I have read today..!

Well, we don't know all the details - - but they spent an awful lot of time together and they were what we used to call an "item".

 

The theory was that she was trying to be independent from her mother but at the same time her mother approved because she thought Natalie was safe with Raymond Burr. The benefits for Burr were obvious.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought Burr was gay.

 

Natalie Wood was a wild child, from at least her mid-teen years. She used to run around with James Dean, Nick Adams, Dennis Hopper and others, and got into as much trouble as they did. A recent Hopper bio I read made it seem that that whole scene was very free and fluid sexually, free love before the concept was wide spread.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought Burr was gay.

 

Natalie Wood was a wild child, from at least her mid-teen years. She used to run around with James Dean, Nick Adams, Dennis Hopper and others, and got into as much trouble as they did. A recent Hopper bio I read made it seem that that whole scene was very free and fluid sexually, free love before the concept was wide spread.

All this talk about Natalie Wood is really opening up my brain - - the most interesting match that she had that got the most publicity was Elvis Presley.

So that the only way they could date would be that they would close the whole bowling alley and they would have a date, that sort of thing.

 

Natalie would have been the first high-profile Show Business star that Elvis ever dated. Juliet Prowse, Ann-Margaret and so forth,they all came later.

 

I get a lot of my primary information about Nat from the old Movie Mags, Tab Hunter's autobio and from a book that her sister, Lana Wood wrote.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought Burr was gay.

 

Natalie Wood was a wild child, from at least her mid-teen years. She used to run around with James Dean, Nick Adams, Dennis Hopper and others, and got into as much trouble as they did. A recent Hopper bio I read made it seem that that whole scene was very free and fluid sexually, free love before the concept was wide spread.

Dean, Adams, Hopper and "fluid sexuality" a movie about this would be hot

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dean, Adams, Hopper and "fluid sexuality" a movie about this would be hot

You'd have to add Sal Mineo to the mix - and you'd get "Rebel Without A Cause".

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

It occurred to me there are lots of these types of headlines, whether they are actually true or not. 

 

Do these kinds of headlines really sell magazines..?

TopBilled, I believe these type of headlines sell magazines. And not just LGBT headlines either.

 

My sister works at Walmart, and she sometimes sneaks around on Fridays (that's when the new magazines are displayed) and reads the headlines. She sometimes tells me the headlines or I see them for myself.

 

One other thing you should probably know: These types of magazines often disrespect the deceased. One headline I read a few years ago was James Garner's Amazing Secret Life. The headline went on to say Garner cheated on his wife with Doris Day and Lauren Bacall and was a drug addict. Another headline I read right after Rod Taylor passed away was His Deadly Battle With Anorexia. It hurts to see anyone disrespected, and it's worse with the deceased because there's nothing they can do about the lies published in those types of magazines.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us