Burt Lancaster, who starred in such Golden Age classics as From Here to Eternity, was a Hollywood actor unlike any other. Burt didn’t get his start in Hollywood until the age of 33. Prior to this point he’d been both a circus acrobat and a USO performer in the military. When Burt broke onto the scene in Hollywood, he made a point of doing things his way. Burt chose to exercise his freedoms both in his business and in his personal life. In Hollywood, he created his own production company so that he could be in charge of his own projects. At home, he sexually experimented with various partners of both genders while working through three marriages and being a father of five children. In addition, Burt campaigned against blacklisting. Join Facts Verse as Burt Lancaster’s biographer reveals his million-dollar secret.
Burt Lancaster was born on November 2, 1913, in East Harlem. Growing up during the Great Depression, Burt’s mother was incredibly tough on the young boy in hopes that toughening him up might allow him to find success in an equally harsh world. His mother was a large woman, and she wasn’t above pinning her son down and beating him if he wasn’t acting the way that she wanted. While this instilled values in Burt at home, he lashed out as much as possible on the streets. Burt’s experiences as a youth on the streets of New York instilled a different type of toughness in the boy.
Burt’s mother insisted that her son destined for better things than street life. In addition to instilling manners in the young boy, she also allegedly taught him about society. Burt became aware of class and race issues during the Great Depression. And these things were on his mind when he ventured into Hollywood and faced blacklisting.
From a young age, Burt expressed interest in acrobatics. During his young adulthood, he dropped out of school with his friends and they joined the circus. They began performing an acrobatic routine, eventually becoming moderately successful. However, an injury received on the job made it so that Burt had to give the career up during his 20s. Burt excelled at acrobatics despite his height. Burt grew to be 6’ 2”, while most gymnasts are much shorter. Burt’s height was a disadvantage in his chosen profession of acrobatics, but it was an advantage in Hollywood.
Before venturing into Hollywood at the age of 33, Burt worked for a time as a USO performer. Burt entertained military troops, though it wasn’t work that he felt very passionately about due to his political beliefs. During this period, someone saw star potential in Burt and offered him a part on Broadway. Feeling unsure about his future, Burt tenuously accepted. He ended up enjoying acting, and made his Hollywood debut in 1946, starring in The Killers.
Burt Lancaster became instantly successful in Hollywood thanks to his good looks and charisma. Burt was willing to go places on the screen that many of his peers weren’t, which allowed him to take on roles that exhibited the entire wide range of his talents. The actor found continued success over the 1950s, acting in such films as From Here to Eternity, The Crimson Pirate, and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Another film that Burt starred in during the 1950s was Sweet Smell of Success. Unlike many of Burt’s other films during the decade, the film saw him cast as a rather unlikable and off-putting figure. While audiences at the time didn’t much like seeing the star in such a light. Performances such as this are one reason that Burt remains such a widely respected actor of his generation. The star wasn’t afraid to show his dark side to the audience in his wide variety of roles.
Not only did Burt take roles that he thought would be challenging to both him and the audience, but he also turned down roles that he didn’t feel jived with his personal beliefs. The actor infamously turned down the lead role in Ben-Hur, which ended up going to Charlton Heston. Burt was allegedly offered $1 million to play the part, but turned it down because it didn’t appreciate the film’s overt religious themes.
For his time, Burt Lancaster was certainly an actor that worked against societal norms both on and off the screen. Not only did he choose the strangest roles he could find on the screen. He also practiced deviant behaviors in his personal life, even during his three marriages. In fact, the FBI investigated Burt for nearly three decades for his alleged promiscuous bisexuality! If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
For many decades, rumors have persisted that Burt Lancaster was bisexual. The star’s various wives alleged that he could seen having affairs with men and women when he married to them. Although Burt’s alleged bisexual tendencies have never been proven, the actor incredibly outspoken liberal with plenty of gay friends! One of those friends was fellow star Rock Hudson.
During the FBI’s investigation of Burt Lancaster, they turned up information that suggested the star liked to take part in orgies with his friend Rock Hudson. The FBI found this information by raiding the house of a notable wealthy socialite that happened to frequent many of the same gay clubs as Rock. Rock was an open homosexual during his time in Hollywood. And he also made history during the 1980s when he became one of the first big-name celebrities to die after contracting the AIDS virus.
Some speculate that Burt Lancaster wasn’t actually bisexual. But simply refused to denounce homosexuality out of support for his homosexual friends, such as Rock Hudson. Burt certainly the picture of masculinity during his physical peak. Though he wouldn’t have been the only masculine star in Hollywood to be hiding his true sexual orientation. Still, the testimony of Burt’s wives alleges that the actor liked to have affairs with men in addition to women. During the final year of Rock Hudson’s life, Burt helped his longtime friend out by lending his celebrity to a fundraiser for AIDS victims.
Burt always chose to do things his way, whether in Hollywood or in his relationships. He started his own production company and spoke out against the blacklisting of Hollywood Communists during the 1940s. Burt also investigated for his alleged ties to the Communist Party of America as a result of his defense of blacklisted actors. However, the actor’s popularity with audiences proved to be more powerful than Hollywood’s blacklisting practices.
Despite being an alleged bisexual swinger, Burt married three times over the course of his life and had five children. June Ernst is his first wife, whom he had married in 1935 and divorced in 1946. The same year that he made his Hollywood debut. Burt and June had actually fallen out well before the 1946 finalization of their divorce. It was during Burt’s time as a USO performer that he met his second wife, Norma Anderson. Norma became pregnant by accident in 1946. Burt’s first instinct was to start making plans for his new lover to get an abortion. When Norma insisted that abortion wasn’t an option, Burt and her got married.
Burt married Norma Anderson in 1946, and their marriage lasted until 1969. Throughout those years, the two had a total of five children together. All the while, Burt continued allegedly seeking out casual sex partners, whether they were male or female. As one might imagine, these behavioral tendencies got even worse as Burt became a bigger Hollywood celebrity. Burt was unfaithful to his wife, and Norma tried to find solace by excessively consuming alcohol. After over two decades, it became apparent that the relationship was no longer going to work.
Burt stayed unmarried for over two decades after his 1969 divorce from Norma Anderson. In 1990, Burt married third and final wife Susan Martin, who was with him at the time of his death in 1994. Although Burt remarried, he never had any additional kids after the five he had with Norma. Burt was bound to a wheelchair as a result of a stroke by the time that he married third wife Susan Martin, and he spent the final years of his life unable to do much.
For the most part, Burt Lancaster liked to keep to himself. He didn’t have a lot of close friends in Hollywood, with some of his closest friends being Kirk Douglas and Rock Hudson. Although Burt and Kirk were very good friends, there is one legendary incident where Burt supposedly made Kirk cry during a public appearance.
Burt was known to have mood swings, which meant that he could lash out and offend people that he might otherwise be friendly with. This supposedly occurred one day while Burt was making a public appearance with fellow actor Kirk Douglas. During the appearance, Burt was said to have made a remark disparaging Kirk for the fact that the much shorter actor had to wear lifts in his shoes. As mentioned before, Burt was 6’ 2”, while Kirk was 5’ 9”. The remark apparently upset Kirk so much that the actor began crying. However, the incident wasn’t enough to cause the two to stop being friends. After Burt’s death, Kirk continued talking positively about the actor until his own death in 2020.
Although it has never been proven that Burt Lancaster was bisexual, it seems that this was very likely the case! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that actor Burt Lancaster was under investigation from the FBI for his alleged bisexuality, or did you think that all Hollywood leading men were the epitome of masculinity? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!