Love is a complex emotion that they say knows no boundaries. That said, there’s no denying that it also can be quite tricky to navigate at times. And in the world of entertainment, where fame and fortune often go hand in hand, the dynamics of relationships can be even more complicated. One such example is the phenomenon of so-called “lavender marriages” where gay celebrities who, for various reasons, chose to tie the knot with women. Many did it to maintain a certain public image oftentimes given little choice in the matter by their studio handlers, while others seemed to genuinely love their partners but hadn’t yet realized who they really were deep down inside.
Some may call it a cover-up, while others believe it’s a genuine attempt to find love and happiness. Whatever your stance, there’s no denying that the stories of these celebrities are fascinating and often full of drama. So, buckle up and get ready to explore the lives of some of the most famous gay celebrities who married women anyway.
Nowadays, it seems utterly absurd that anyone ever believed that Elton was anything but gay. John’s attempt to hide his true self behind a straight facade was hard to believe even back in the day, given his history of flamboyant shows, his bisexual confession in 1976, and his songs full of suggestive words. Yet he did so by tying the knot with Renate Blauel, a German sound engineer, in 1984. The marriage crumbled in 1988 after just 4 years, and John subsequently embraced his gay identity, becoming one of the loudest advocates for gay rights in the world. He wed David Furnish in 2005 after a 12-year romance.
Vincent Minnelli, famous for his marriage to Judy Garland and fathering superstar Liza Minelli, was one of the most intriguingly married men in Hollywood history. Despite being openly gay when in New York, Minnelli retreated to the metaphorical closet while in Los Angeles. Following his five-year marriage to Garland, Minnelli wed Georgette Magnani from 1954 to 1958, Danica “Denise” Radosavljevic from 1962 to 1971, and Lee Anderson from 1980 to 1986. Interestingly, Liza Minelli married her first husband, Peter Allen, in 1967, but Allen later came out as gay shortly after their divorce was finalized in 1976. Sadly, Vince Minnelli passed away due to emphysema and pneumonia in 1986 while residing in Beverly Hills.
Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck
The marriage of these two iconic actors supposedly was arranged to cover-up both stars alleged bisexuality and has been frequently labeled as a lavender marriage. That being said, it’s also been suggested that the marriage was prompted by the necessity to protect both celebs reputations after an article was published In Photoplay magazine that reported that they had been living together for years despite not being married.
It was not a big surprise when singer-songwriter Little Richard confessed in a 1995 Penthouse interview that he was gay all along. The world seemed to smile and agree with a collective sigh of, “At last!” After all, Little Richard had always worn women’s makeup on stage, exaggerated his feminine gestures in his act, and liked to dress as a woman, so his admission was not really that big of a revelation to most. What remains unclear, however, is his marriage to Ernestine Campbell from 1959 to 1963, a relationship that is hardly mentioned, let alone explained. Get ready to explore the lives of some of the most famous gay celebrities who married women anyway.
Rock Hudson’s towering and handsome presence made women go weak in the knees. He dominated the silver screen in the ’50s, often sharing it with legends like Elizabeth Taylor and Doris Day in various dramas ranging from comedies to dramas. He tied the knot with Phyllis Gates when he was 30, but the marriage lasted only 3 years, until 1958. Hudson kept his sexuality a secret, though many of his co-stars knew or at least strongly suspected that he was gay. Sadly, Hudson succumbed to AIDS-related complications in 1985 at age 60, leaving behind his long-time lover Marc Christian, who later sued his estate. Hudson’s death raised awareness and support for the AIDS crisis and its research.
Adrian Adolph Greenburg and Janet Gaynor
Janet Gaynor, a Hollywood star, and Adrian, a costume designer, wed in a “marriage of convenience” in 1939 and had a son. They both had same-sex attractions, but they hid them under a forced marriage by the studio system. Adrian died in 1959 and Gaynor remarried to producer Paul Gregory. Gaynor and Gregory befriended Broadway star Mary Martin, who also liked both genders, and her husband Richard Halliday, a drama critic who likewise kept his homosexuality a secret. The four of them lived together on Martin’s ranch in Goiás, Brazil, for a number of years.
Cole Porter, a renowned songwriter and composer, lived as if the titles of his famous songs like Anything Goes and Don’t Fence Me In were his personal life mottos. He remained married to Linda Lee Thompson for 35 years until her death in 1954 but rumor had it that Porter had many flings and affairs with men until he died in Santa Monica from kidney failure in 1964 at age 73. Porter and his late wife had no kids and most of his royalties now belong to the kids of Porter’s best friend Ray Kelly.
Richardson was a TV and theater Director as well as a film and TV Producer who was wed to actress Vanessa Redgrave for five years, from 1962 to 1967. Tho couple had two daughters, both actresses: Natasha (born in 1963) and Joely Richardson (born in 1965). Richardson revealed his bisexuality in 1985, after years of rumors about his sexual preference. That same year, he learned he had HIV. The virus quickly progressed to AIDS and Richardson passed away from related complications in Los Angeles in 1991.
Perkins, who played the twisted hotel owner Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s iconic horror film Psycho, had several romances and flings with men in his youth. But he wed actress Berry Berenson in 1973 and went on to father two sons with her in 1974 and 1976. Perkins succumbed to AIDS and pneumonia in Hollywood in 1992 while Berenson tragically died on Flight 11 that smashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Alan Cumming is a Scottish actor who is openly bisexual. He was married to actress Hilary Lyon for eight years, from 1985 to 1993. Some sources claim that this was a lavender marriage, a marriage of convenience to conceal his sexuality. However, Cumming has never confirmed or denied this allegation. He later dated actress Saffron Burrows for two years before meeting his current husband, graphic artist Grant Shaffer. Cumming and Shaffer became civil partners in London in 2007 and legally married in New York in 2012. They have been together for 12 years and are reportedly very happy.
Wrangler was a trailblazing gay movie star who married a woman he adored in his later years. He wed singer Margaret Whiting in 1994 and after he quit acting, and went on to create musicals for her to perform in. Wrangler was always open about his sexuality, though he faced backlash from his fans for “going straight” when he married Whiting. His most famous quote about his sexuality was, “I’m gay, but I could never live a gay lifestyle, because I’m much too competitive.” Wrangler passed away from emphysema in New York City in 2009. Get ready to explore the lives of some of the most famous gay celebrities who married women anyway.
Angela Lansbury was a successful film and stage star before she became a detective on Murder She Wrote. She had a brief marriage to handsome actor Richard Cromwell from 1945 to 1946. When she found out that Cromwell liked both men and women, she ended the marriage right away and married actor Peter Shaw three years later. They stayed married until Shaw died in 2003. Cromwell passed away in Hollywood at age 50 in 1960 from a liver tumor. Get ready to explore the lives of some of the most famous gay celebrities who married women anyway.
Cary Grant was one of the most popular and charming movie stars of Hollywood’s golden age. He was also the subject of persistent rumors about his sexuality, which he denied throughout his life. Some sources claim that he was gay or bisexual, and that he had relationships with men before and during his five marriages to women. One of his alleged lovers was Randolph Scott, another actor with whom he shared a house for several years in the 1930s. They posed together for fan magazines and were close friends until Grant’s death in 1986. Still, there is no definitive proof that Grant was gay, and some of his co-stars and friends have defended his heterosexuality.
Grant himself said that he was not gay, but that he did not mind if people thought he was. He also said that he was “happily heterosexual” and that he loved all of his wives. Regardless, Grant’s sexuality remains a mystery and a source of fascination for many fans and biographers.
Peter Marc Jacobson
Peter Marc Jacobson was married to actress Fran Drescher from 1978 to 1999. While together, the two stars created and produced the sitcom The Nanny together. Jacobson came out as gay to Drescher after their divorce. Some sources suggest that their marriage was a lavender marriage. However, neither Jacobson nor Drescher have ever confirmed this claim to be true. They have remained friends and collaborators after their divorce, and even based their 2011 TV series Happily Divorced on their lives.
It’s troubling to imagine a time when those in the LGBTQI+ community were forced to hide their true identities by entering into marriages that were purely for optics. Fortunately, lavender marriages became less common in the 1960s and ‘70s as the gay rights movement grew stronger after the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Get ready to explore the lives of some of the most famous gay celebrities who married women anyway.
Although there was still a lack of representation in film and on television, the studios did not control the actual lives of the stars on screen, whether they were straight, gay or bisexual, nearly as much as they had done before.
Today, obviously the world has grown far more tolerant and accepting of homosexuality and various other sexual and gender-related identities. Hollywood especially seems to have welcomed the gay community with open arms in recent years as culture and society continues to evolve.
Can you think of any other gay stars who ended up marrying women and do you think any of the marriages we discussed previously were actually rooted in love? Let us know your thoughts on this complex and oftentimes hard to discuss subject in the comments section down below. And as always, thanks for watching!