I do, but only because I recently read a really good book Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines, Hollywood's First Openly Gay Star. William (Billy) Haines (1900-1973) was a silent-screen movie idol. Good looks, decent acting, and a sharp tongue won him a host of fans.
|I can't see why they thought he was hot in the 1920s, no not at all.|
Then he fell in love. On a trip to New York in 1926, Haines met James "Jimmie" Shields. He convinced him to move to Los Angeles with him, where he could get him work as an extra. Shields agreed. They became a couple and stayed together for the next 40 years, until Haines death. Joan Crawford once remarked that they were the happiest married couple in Hollywood.
|From left: Shields, Haines, Joan Crawford, and unknown dude in the 1940s. I love men in black tie.|
Haines was awesome. He refused to deny his homosexuality.
He rejected Hollywood hetro-normative demands and decided to leave acting. Using his connections, Haines became an interior designer, creating furniture and designing beautiful homes for the rich and famous in Hollywood. But don't let that fool you into thinking they just gave him work. Haines was one of the best ever and became a legend in the design world. His furniture is still in demand, with two chairs having been sold recently for $43,000.
Don't think his life was easy. He and his partner were beat up at least on one occasion in 1936 by an angry mob of reportedly white supremacists from their home. No charges were laid, of course. The couple settled in Brentwood, California. Haines died of lung cancer at the age of 72. A sad ending note, however. His life partner Shields could not live without him, and committed suicide soon after.
|Rest in peace, you magnificent man.|