Thursday, October 13, 2005

Female film stars

Teresa Theophano , at glbtq, has written about lesbian film stars.

She points out:

1. A "lavender marriage," is one between a gay male star and and a lesbian stars 'for reasons of career insurance and social approval'.

2. A "sewing circle," is a gathering of Hollywood lesbians.

Theophano tells us about Nazimova:

'Bisexual' actress Nazimova had long-term involvement with 'gay' actor Charles Bryant.

In 1918, Nazimova moved to Hollywood. She bought a large Spanish-style house, the Garden of Allah, a hotel and apartment house where a number of Hollywood stars would live.

In the 1920s, Nazimova became one of the most popular movie stars in America.

Reportedly, Nazimova had 'lesbian relationships' with Mercedes de Acosta, stage actress Eva Le Gallienne, film director Dorothy Arzner, and Oscar Wilde's 'lesbian' niece Dolly.

The 'Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America' was formed in 1922. It brought in the Motion Picture Production Code in 1929.

The Code, also known as the Hays Code, decreed that there would be no "immorality" or "impropriety" on screen - only chaste kisses and heterosexual characters.

The Code was applied to actors' private lives; and drug use, adultery, sexual promiscuity, and especially homosexuality were grounds for blacklisting.

According to Theophano:

'The consolidation of the movie industry into a few powerful studios rendered gay and lesbian actors particularly vulnerable...

'Many lesbian actresses retreated ever more deeply into the closet, dating or even marrying men in order to appear heterosexual'.

Marlene Dietrich remained 'openly bisexual' and Tallulah Bankhead 'appeared unconcerned about the gossip surrounding... (her) sexuality'.

During Hollywood's golden age 'Hollywood lesbians tended to socialize at private parties.'

Nazimova and Salka Viertel, 'a lesbian screenwriter', organised parties.

According to Diana McLellan, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich enjoyed a brief affair.

Garbo never married and 'became famously reclusive after her retirement', aged 36.

Dietrich, who had had a husband and child in her early 20s, 'maintained her notoriously seductive ways with both men and women throughout her long career'.

Reportedly, De Acosta and Le Gallienne, 'aside from their relationships with each other and Nazimova, both became involved with Garbo at different times; de Acosta also had an affair with Dietrich.'

Tallulah Bankhead 'was intimate with one of the only openly lesbian actresses of the time, comedienne Patsy Kelly. Bankhead reportedly had affairs with both Dietrich and Garbo and also claimed to have slept with Barbara Stanwyck'.

In her memoirs and conversations, film actress Louise Brooks 'reminisced about affairs with women, including a tryst with Garbo'.

Other actresses rumored to be lesbian or bisexual, 'including Janet Gaynor, star of A Star is Born (1937), and Mary Martin, best known for her Peter Pan role. Reportedly, the "best friends" both had "lavender marriages," to a costume designer and an interior decorator, respectively'.

Film actress Lily Tomlin's support of gay rights led many to suspect her lesbianism for decades. She remained hushed about her sexual orientation until early 2001. The statement she made concerning her thirty-year relationship with writer Jane Wagner 'was not entirely unambiguous'.

Actress and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres's public coming out in 1997 'was a landmark in the advancement of lesbians in the entertainment industry. The well-publicized relationship Ellen maintained with film actress Anne Heche ... made them for a while the only high-profile out lesbian couple in Hollywood'.

In 1993, actress Amanda Bearse became the first prime-time television lesbian to come out. 'She reported that her announcement, prompted by a threat of "outing," had no negative repercussions on her career'.

Bearse remained a part of the cast of Married with Children until its 1997 finale.

Former child star Drew Barrymore and current It-Girl Angelina Jolie 'are open about their bisexuality ... actress Ione Skye 'went public about her relationship with lesbian model Jenny Shimizu'.

Actress Sandra Bernhard 'has also been forthcoming about her bisexuality - and about her involvement with superstar singer Madonna - for years'.

'Actress Margaret Cho proclaimed herself bisexual in the late 1990s.'

Reportedly, out lesbians include Guinevere Turner, Cheryl Dunye and Leisha Hailey, half of the out lesbian pop duo The Murmurs.

Anne Heche was cast in a romantic lead opposite Harrison Ford in Six Days Seven Nights (1998) after acknowledging her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres.

'The most recent, high-profile coming out' was that of actress Rosie O'Donnell.

O'Donnell declared in March 2002, on ABC's Primetime Thursday, that she is in fact a lesbian mom.

Over the years, 'rumors of lesbianism or bisexuality have persisted about several Hollywood actresses' such as:

Catherine Deneuve,
Kristy McNichol,
Helen Hunt,
actress and musician Queen Latifah,
and actress and singer Whitney Houston.

According to Theophano:

'The multiple Academy Award-winning Jodie Foster occupies a special place in the hearts of many lesbians. She often plays relatively butch on screen, but refuses to discuss her private life at all... Actor Russell Crowe mentioned that Foster influenced his band's song "Other Ways of Speaking," which is about "meeting somebody that you think [you] could easily fall in love with . . . but they . . . in fact play for a different team."'


Patricia Juliana Smith, at, wrote about Mercedes de Acosta (1893-1968).


'IN THE 1920's there were four glorious female stars in Hollywood Heaven: all imported from Europe. Adored by their fans, rich and famous, all were acquainted with Hollywood's most nimble lesbian Lothario - the writer Mercedes de Acosta....


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