Saturday, June 22, 2019

Quips and Quotations (Teflon Celebrity Edition)




 We lived in fear of an expose, or even one small remark, a veiled suggestion that someone was homosexual. Such a remark would have caused an earthquake at the Studio. Every month, when Confidential came out, our stomachs began to turn. Which of us would be in it? The amazing thing is that Rock, as big as he became, was never nailed. It made one speculate Rock had an angel on his shoulder, or that he'd made a pact with the devil, because he seemed under supernatural protection.


--George Nader 

















19 comments:

  1. Or was it the studio paying off people in order to protect him? I'd be more inclined to believe that than simple luck.

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    1. Debra, I'm inclined to agree with you. In fact, it may have been the bigger the star you were, the LESS likely you would be nailed. But I find the quote interesting not so much for what it says about Hudson but about Nader, a minor movie star, barely a movie star at all. Much farther down the Hollywood pecking order, he would have been considered much more expendable from the studio's point of view, and even likely was threatened with exposure from the studio (as a way of keeping him in line) and thus looked upon Rock Hudson (whom he knew) with no small amount of envy.

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    2. Debra, now that I think of it, Nader speculates Hudson made a pact with the devil, and so he did--with the Studio!

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  2. I agree with you and Deborah. There were NO angels, just powerful people with lots of money.

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    1. Mitchell, the haves and have-nots of the LGBTQ world is something that interests me quite a bit. Rock Hudson was definitely one of the haves.

      Ironically, those who fought the good fight at Stonewall, many of them homeless teenagers and homeless transgender people, were definitely the have-nots. What Hudson thought about all that remains a mystery.

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  3. Hi, Kirk!

    I remember George Nader. As a boy I saw Nader in the el-cheapo sci-fi/horror film Robot Monster, and I was a regular viewer of his TV series The Man and the Challenge.

    Nader wrote: "Rock, as big as he became, was never nailed." I'm not gonna touch that one with a ten foot pole! :)

    We've come a long way, baby, and if everybody gets on board for 2020, we can help make sure this country doesn't take a giant step backward to a time when a person's sexual orientation could be used against him or her.

    I hope you're having a nice weekend, good buddy Kirk!

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    1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Shady, you've had good one-liners before, but that one took me completely by surprise! And to think I've looked at that quote about a half a dozen times these last few days!

      Thanks for dropping by. I thought you might skip this one.

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  4. What an awful way to live...my first boyfriend ruled his life like Rock
    How sad

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    1. This is how I celebrate Pride Month, John, by reminding everybody just how fucked up it used to be, and how some people remained fucked up even when it stopped being like that, including, it sounds like, your first boyfriend.

      Did he LOOK like Rock? That would have been some compensation.

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  5. People would have known. Were many nailed by Confidential? Like outed?

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    2. Andrew, here's a few names: Liberace, Lizabeth Scott, Marlene Dietrich, FDR's Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles, Van Johnson, Johnnie Ray, Tab Hunter

      Liberace sued the magazine. It was settled out of court. Liberace reportedly getting $40,000 from Confidential. A year later, Liberace sued a British newspaper columnist for implying he was gay (he was called a "fruit") The jury ruled in Liberace's favor. Neither scandal seemed to hurt his career any.

      Scott's name was said to be in a lesbian call girl's address book. She was also said to have frequented a lesbian bar in Paris owned by Marlene Dietrich. She sued Confidential. Hung jury. Mistrial. Paramount Pictures did not renew her contract, but her career may have been on the slide anyway. She made up for it by doing a lot of TV. according to one biography, she spent the rest of her life assuring men on dates that she was not a lesbian (whether they cared or not.)

      Dietrich: Anything they said about her was probably true. Anything they DIDN'T say about her was probably true. No discernible effect on her career. Americans in the 1950s were willing to forgive a sexy woman with a foreign accent. She could get away with anything--and did.

      Welles: Confidential reported the FDR had reluctantly fired the Under-Secretary in 1943 for soliciting sex from two African-American Pullman car porters during a train trip. This was true though newspapers at the time reported he had been let go due to policy differences. Sumner spent the rest of his life writing books, giving speeches, and appearing as a talking head on TV public affairs program, all of which continued despite the Confidential story (it may just have been that people who avidly watch public affairs programs or listen to speeches by former public officials just didn't make up a large part of Confidential's readership.) Welles DID have some explaining to do to the missus. He said he was drunk at the time. She accepted his excuse.

      Van Johnson. Confidential was relatively kind to him. Yes, he had once been a homosexual but had "rid himself of his abnormality" thanks in part due to a car accident he had been in. Must have been a early, and rather odd, kind of conversion therapy.

      Johnnie Ray. Confidential simply reported what was already known. In 1951, the "Cry" singer had solicited an undercover vice cop in a rest room. He pleaded guilty and paid a fine, and then spent the rest of the 1950s denying his guilt! I think what saved him (and perhaps others) is that his fan base was composed mostly of heterosexual women who wished him to be heterosexual as well, and if he said he wasn't, that was good enough for them. As Gore Vidal once said, denial is not a river in Egypt.

      Finally, Tab Hunter. Confidential's story, mostly true, had that Hunter had been busted at party where men were dancing with men and women were dancing with women that was busted up by the cops. When the story broke, Hunter thought his career was over, but, coincidentally, at the very same time he appeared on the cover of Photoplay--which had a higher circulation--with Natalie Wood. His largely female fan base had to pick and choose, and they chose Photoplay.

      Andrew, I've treated this all rather humorously because that's the writing style in which I'm most comfortable, but keep in mind that in the 1950s, it wasn't simply about celebrities being embarrassed. To be gay was to be against the law. Plus, it was considered a mental illness. These stars had very good reason to be wary of Confidential.

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    3. "Finally, Tab Hunter. Confidential's story, mostly true, had that Hunter had been busted at party where men were dancing with men and women were dancing with women that was busted up by the cops."

      The cops may want to bust up that sentence--and I wouldn't blame them!

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  7. It does seem to surprise many, though this was back in the day where the people who were known to be, couldn't hide it to save their life.

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  8. Adam, the 1950s were a whole different era. LGBTQ people weren't merely despised, they were invisible, nonexistent, almost mythical products of a kind of urban folklore. Homosexuality was considered such an ultra-rare form of mental illness, that it was inconceivable to the average person that anybody outside of an insane asylum could be queer. In fact, the word queer itself was once synonymous with madness. Because of this perceived rarity, people were given the benefit of the doubt, even Liberace. I don't know how familiar you are with Liberace, Adam, but for those of us who remember his flamboyant personality, it seems ridiculous that he could sue for a gay libel and come out on top--yet that's exactly what happened.

    Singer Johnnie Ray didn't fit the stereotype as neatly as Liberace, but he had a performing style that to post-Stonewall eyes might come across as gay. In 1959, he was arrested a second time for soliciting an undercover vice cop. Instead of paying a fine he decided to fight it in court and was acquitted by an all-female jury. Unfortunately, his career went into a steep decline after that, at least here in the United States.

    "Poor old Johnny Ray
    Sounded sad upon the radio
    But he moved a million hearts in mono
    Our mothers cried, sang along, who'd blame them"

    --Dexys Midnight Runners

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  9. I sometimes wonder if the press wasn't a bit kinder and nicer in those days too.

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    1. Jenny, the press did keep people's secrets back then. Whether it was out of kindness or some other reason, I'm not sure.

      One possibility is that it was a lot easier back in the 1950s and earlier to run afoul of obscenity laws. Writing about somebody sex life may have been considered obscene whether it was true or not.

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