Gay/Bisexual Actors in Old TV Shows ( Pt 5 )

 

Peter Wyngarde

Peter Wyngarde (1933 – )

Peter Wyngarde was born in Marseilles, France to an English father and a French mother. For about three years between 1969 and 1972, he portrayed the suave, silky-voiced, woman chasing sleuth Jason King in two series, (Department ‘S’ and Jason King), and seemed to be forever getting the girl, but always avoiding kissing her at the last moment – week after week. His arrest in 1974 and again in 1975 in men’s toilets on ‘gross indecency’ charges pretty much curtailed his career, even though his homosexuality was well known in acting circles. In fact, he had been in a sexual relationship with prominent actor Alan Bates for a decade, and was known around the industry by his nickname ‘Petunia Winegum’.

 

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Amanda Bearse (1958 – )

Diminutive Amanda Bearse is both an actor and director. Her big break came in 1987 when she was cast to play Al Bundy’s next door neighbour Marcy Rhoades in the hit sitcom Married with Children (1987-97). By 1991 she was directing the show (over 30 episodes), as well as stints directing Reba, Dharma & Greg and Veronica’s Closet. She came out as a lesbian in 1993, the first prime-time actress to do so, and is currently married to Carrie Schenken. They have two children.

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Derek Jacobi (1938 -)

It may be difficult to envisage, but Derek Jacobi’s brilliant performance as Claudius in the 1976 series I, Claudius, might not have been if executives had opted for either Charlton Heston or Ronnie Barker in the role, both of whom were seriously considered! Discovered by Laurence Olivier, Jacobi has been an icon of the British theatre for decades, despite his two year attack of ‘stage fright’ back in 1981 that threatened to end his career. His forte has always been the stage (then television), but he is impressive in whatever medium he chooses. His life-long partner of 27 years is Richard Clifford, a fine actor himself.

 

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Stephen Fry (1957 – )  

Stephen Fry played Anthony Melchett in Black Adder. He is an extraordinary man. Probably, the best way to describe him would be to list what makes him tick, so here goes. I stress these are not in any order of importance whatsoever:

  1. Emma Thompson described him as ‘90% gay and 10% other’.
  2. Flies his own classic biplane.
  3. Narrates the audiobook versions of the Harry Potter series.
  4. Is an avid collector of teddy bears.
  5. Suffers from bipolar disorder.
  6. Drives his own black cab when in London.
  7. Speaks German fluently.
  8. Has attempted suicide in 2012, and may well do so again, he says.
  9. Is a brilliant and prolific writer.
  10. Works tirelessly for charity.
  11. Was a millionaire at 30.
  12. As a youth he spent time in prison for credit card fraud.
  13. Is 1.94m tall.
  14. Is married to Elliott G Spencer as of January, 2015.
  15. Is co-founder of the Bear Rescue Foundation.
  16. Fervently supports the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece.
  17. Hosts the British panel show ‘QI’.
  18. Has a staggering general knowledge.

Two Stephen Fry quotes:

On being gay:” My first words, as I was being born…I looked up at my mother and said, ‘that’s the last time I’m going up one of those’.”

‘Homophobia is still a world problem. Homosexuality isn’t and never has been. Homosexuals are not interested in making other people homosexual. Homophobes are interested in making other people homophobic.’

Roseanne

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Sara Gilbert (1975 – )

Sara Gilbert is the younger half-sister of actress Melissa Gilbert, (Laura Ingalls Wilder in the iconic series Little House on the Prairie (1974-83). Success came for Sara when she was picked to portray Darlene Conner in Roseanne (1988), a role she made her own for nine years. Between 2001 and 2010 she was in a same sex relationship with writer/producer Ali Adler. They had two children. She has since had a third child with her spouse Linda Perry. All three children were conceived with the help of a sperm donor.

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Cynthia Nixon (1946 – )

Between 1998 and 2004 Cynthia Nixon starred as Miranda Hobbes in the positively lousy (but highly successful) series Sex and the City, the show that goes out of its way to convince young women that ‘slutty’ is cool. She has been an on and off Broadway actress of considerable note since the early eighties, but it took Sex and the City to get her public popularity. In the interim she had become just the fifteenth performer to hold an Emmy, a Tony and a Grammy. Cynthia had two children with her ex-boyfriend, but is now happily married to Christine Marinoni, and they also have a child.

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Kirsten Vangsness (1972 – )

We often tend to think that a lot of TV stars found fame and fortune through luck or ‘being in the right place at the right time’. Some probably did, but for most of them success came after a lot of hard work, endless rejections, and on top of a mountain of acting experience on the stage, in stand-up comedy houses, and so on. Kirsten Vangsness, who plays Penelope Garcia in Criminal Minds (2005 -), is a classic example of a performer who has done it all long before TV fame arrived. Extensive stage work, awards, and plays she has written, all form part of her resume. These days she earns $100,000 per episode of Criminal Minds. Her first lesbian relationship happened when she was 30, she says.

 

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Neil Patrick Harris (1973 – )

Neil Patrick Harris has tasted fame twice; the first time being back in 1989 when he became a teen heartthrob via his starring role in the TV series Doogie Howser M.D. The series only lasted five seasons (1989 – 93), after which he took to the stage, something he had always wanted to do. His second moment in the sun took place in 2009-10, when he found himself hosting the Emmy Awards and the Tony Awards in 2009, presenting an award at the 2010 Golden Globes, and scoring an opening act at the 82nd Oscars ceremony, also in 2010. He and his partner, David, Burtka were married in 2014 and now have two children.

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Gillian Anderson (1968 – )

Gillian Anderson, who played Agent Dana Scully from The Ex-Files (1993 – 2002), had a couple of same sex flings in her youth, but remains convinced she is not gay in the true sense of the word. ‘I always knew I still liked boys’, she told The Sunday Times Magazine in June 2015. And she certainly seems to, if her sack record is anything to go by. She has been married twice (both times to men), has a child to her first husband, plus two more to an ex-boyfriend named Mark Griffiths. ’To me a relationship is about loving another human being’, she explained. ‘Their gender is irrelevant.’ Fair enough.

 

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Portia de Rossi (1973 – )

Portia de Rossi was born Amanda Rogers in Geelong, Australia in 1973. She changed her name to Portia when she turned 15. In 1998, she joined the cast of Ally McBeal as ‘the Ice Queen’, Nelle Porter. One of her ex-girlfriends was singer Francesca Gregorini. Portia openly admits she married her first husband, Mel Metcalf, in order to get a Green Card to work in America. ‘In high school I had sex with girls quite a few times’, she recalls. ‘They were straight women who I convinced to jump in the sack with me.’ In 2008 she married Ellen DeGeneres and took her name. Today Portia de Rossi is no more. She is now Portia Lee James DeGeneres.

 

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Hayden Rorke (1910-87)

In 2011, Barbara Eden, the undisputed star of I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70), told an interviewer that Hayden Rorke was gay and had a long-time romantic partner, and that she had enjoyed dinner at their house several times. Rorke played Doctor Bellows in the sitcom, and the entire cast knew he was homosexual. It was of no consequence. Barbara’s memoir titled Jeannie out of the Bottle was released in 2011 and pulled no punches when discussing her cast-mates in the series.

 

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Beverly Hillbillies

Nancy Kulp (1921-91)

As love-sick Jane Hathaway in The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-71), Nancy Kulp was often befuddled and confused, but not so in real life. She was a highly intelligent woman, politically savvy, with a Master’s Degree in both English and French. She even ran for Congress, but lost to her Republican rival after co-star Buddy Ebsen taped a radio advertisement for her opponent in which he referred to Nancy as ‘too liberal. She and Ebsen did not speak for seven years after the election. In 1967, following her divorce, she courageously ‘came out’ as a lesbian. Even so, throughout her life she never lacked for amorous companions on the dating scene, ‘swinging both ways’ as she did.

12 Comments on Gay/Bisexual Actors in Old TV Shows ( Pt 5 )

  1. Robert Conrad a homosexual???? God no.

  2. Re. The comment about Peter Wyngarde.

    Almost the entire piece is based on what appears in Donald Spoto’s erroneous biography about Alan Bates. That book is now being challenged. The truth about Mr Wyngarde can be found on the following blog: http://www.peterwyngarde.wordpress.com More articles challenging these outdated and threadbare views and opinions will be posted on there in the coming weeks.

    I have know Peter almost my entire life, and don’t recongnise the person described above. It’s all just newspaper scandal and misinformation.

    • Thank you for your note, Tina. I barely wrote anything about either gentleman, other than to say they were bisexual. Mr Spoto’s book recounts many conversations with family and friends which, I presume you are saying were invented by him. There are countless articles in newspapers and magazines stating the sexual proclivities of both men and mentioning them living together for a decade. I have no doubt you have known Mr. Wyngarde almost your entire life, but many of these articles claim he led a double life that he took great pains to conceal. Could he not have concealed his bisexuality from you and others as well? I recently discovered that a man I had played cricket with for twenty years was gay. None of us had the faintest inkling. Nor did his wife! I feel extremely sorry for homosexuals who had to conceal their lifestyles or risk prison time if found out. It was utterly unfair and cruel. In the case of both Alan and Peter the risk of exposure was even more so, and the penalty was not just possible prison, but the destruction of their careers, their livelihoods, as well. If I am incorrect, Tina, I apologize, but I can only assess what I have read from a number of sources and reach my own conclusions.That is all any historian can do. Had I been writing an in depth biography of either man I would have researched farther and wider. Then again,Spoto appears to have done that, yet you reject his conclusions which is, of course, your prerogative.

  3. People always leave Robert Conrad off these lists, yet he probably bedded as many young men as any one else. (He liked blonde tops — a friend of mine had an affair with him for several months, which seemed to be as long as any of them lasted.)

    • Thank you for your comments, Nathan. I have read in several sources that Conrad was/is gay, but it all appeared to be hearsay so I did not pursue it. I shall investigate further.

  4. Autobiographies: They can be as self disclosing as their author will
    allow. I’ve only read two, L. Horne’s, and Bacall’s first, so I speak
    from little experience. Biographies could be more objective unless
    author chooses to “fictionalize.” I choose book review comments mostly by readers, and try not to be too influenced one way or another.

    • I have read hundreds, perhaps thousands, of biographies, autobiographies and memoirs over the past 50 or so years. These days they are EVERYWHERE, presumably for two reasons: a) self-publishing, kindle etc. make it much more affordible for everyone. b) because the old stars are dying off at a rate of knots there is less chance of writers being sued.

  5. I just found your response to my June 26 comment on gay, bi-actors,
    where I inquired about your sources.
    I’ve never, in past been aware of, or interested in private lives of
    actors, so I had no ideas about “studio publicity peoples” stories.
    I asked my question, having become acquainted w/Porter’s Bogart
    books, through mostly unfavorable reviews, and passages on internet,
    causing me to wonder about validity of bks.

    • I tend to strongly favour autobiographies over any other source. Anything else I use depends on how many ‘seemingly’ reliable sources I can find as verification. I recall reading in Stewart Granger’s autobiography ‘Sparks Fly Upwards’ how he and his good friend Michael wilding had a sexual episode during an air raid over London. ‘These things happen in wartime’, he said, or words to that effect. He made no big deal about it, so I do not for a moment believe he mentioned it to help sell his book. It was just a casual comment. Someone like Kenneth Tynan would probably have made it the focus of the entire book. We can never be 100% certain of everything we write, but we can cross-check and then make an assessment as to the validity of the information. I tend not to read reviews by critics. Who knows whose agenda they are serving? I probably sound paranoid, but there are so many people in the movie industry willing to say or write ANYTHING to suit their purposes, whatever they may be. I would much rather trust my own judgment and instincts – and research.

  6. It should be no surprise that Hollywood had/has gay, bi- actors.
    How about citing your sources of this info!

    • I wonder, have you ever asked the studio publicity people to verify or confirm THEIR stories down the decades, or do you just accept them as gospel?

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