We often think of Hollywood as being accepting of homosexual men and women. After all, we have Alan Cumming, Neil Patrick Harris, Jodie Foster, and Ellen DeGeneres who are out and proud. Hollywood has also given us great films about same-sex relationship and gay rights such from Brokeback Mountain to Milk.
But there was a darker time in Hollywood when homosexual stars had to keep their sexuality as private as possible. Society wasn’t as tolerant and Hollywood had no interest, at the time, in challenging society’s norms.
Many film studios had “moral clauses” in their contracts. These would threaten a star’s career if they were found to have relations with the same sex.
The studios were happy to assist the LAPD’s vice squad to hunt down these stars. In turn, the LAPD was happy to assist the paparazzi to expose these stars and ruin their careers overnight.
One of the great icons of early Hollywood was James Dean. He won over the hearts of many American women with his portrayal of Jim Stark in Rebel Without A Cause. But it wasn’t just women who fancied the actor. James Dean himself is rumored to have had an interest in men.
One popular anecdote pushed by Dean was that he avoided being drafted for the Korean War by “kissing the medic.” During his short life, there were rumors that Dean was gay. When asked to discuss the matter, he reportedly said, “No, I’m not homosexual, but I am also not going through life with one hand tied behind my back.”
It was believed that Dean pursued relationships with Hollywood legend Marlon Brando as well as advertising executive Rogers Brackett.
Decades after his passing James Dean remains one of the greatest sex symbols that Hollywood has ever produced. He remains a heartthrob for many women…as well as for many men! He’s considered a gay icon and perhaps if times had been different, he’d have been more open about his feelings for men.
But James Dean wasn’t the only sex symbol known for pursuing same-sex relationships. Many men must have gawked at the image of Marilyn Monroe’s dress flying up in The Seven Year Itch. But there must have been many women who did the same.
In a 2012 biography of the icon, author Lois Banner claimed that Marilyn Monroe desired women and had affairs with them. It was believed that she allegedly had affairs with Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, and Barbara Stanwyck.
Actress Judy Garland allegedly claimed that Marilyn Monroe once pursued her at a party. There were also rumors that her marriage to baseball player Joe DiMaggio ended because she preferred women.
Were you aware that these two great sex symbols were likely secretly homosexual? Before we tell you even more about old Hollywood stars who were secretly homosexual, please like this video and subscribe to our channel for more unique and fascinating stories. Now, back to the video…
It wasn’t just the younger sex symbols who were reported to pursue same-sex relationships. One of the legendary couples of Hollywood was the actor Spencer Tracy and actress Katharine Hepburn.
In October 2016, Vanity Fair published an excerpt of Katharine Hepburn’s biography by William J. Mann. In this excerpt, it was claimed that Spencer Tracy would use the services of Scotty Bowers.
Bowers was known as the pimp for servicing Hollywood’s closeted homosexuals. He also claimed to have had an affair with Spencer Tracy.
So how did the allegedly homosexual Spencer Tracy have a relationship with actress Katharine Hepburn? It’s believed that their pairing was created by Hollywood studios who wanted to create the image of a great couple.
Scotty Bowers also knew Katharine Hepburn well and claimed that she was attracted to women. He claimed to have introduced the actress to many women over the years. One woman was named ‘Barbara’ and allegedly the two of them met for several years. Upon Katharine Hepburn’s death, Barbara allegedly received $100,000 check from the actress’s estate.
Let’s return now to one of the greatest leading men in Hollywood history. We know that James Dean was rumored to have pursued an affair with Marlon Brando. But what did Brando himself think about homosexuality?
We know about Brando’s brute sexuality on display in films ranging from A Streetcar Named Desire to Last Tango In Paris. It’s films like these which made women fawn over him. But he had no problem with having affairs with men as well.
In his 1976 autobiography, the actor claimed that homosexuality had become so “in fashion” that it was no longer news. He further stated that he had many ‘homosexual experiences’ and that he wasn’t ashamed to admit it and that he couldn’t care less about what others thought of him.
In fact, there are rumors that Marlon Brando enjoyed having affairs with many of Hollywood’s top stars throughout the ages. He was always known to be outspoken with his opinions and his views.
Marlon Brando showed us that he was very ahead of his time by boldly stating that he didn’t have any opposition to homosexuality. Perhaps in years to come he’ll be remembered as a champion for gay rights when it wasn’t so fashionable.
We mentioned that one of Marilyn Monroe’s flings was with the actress Barbara Stanwyck. In fact, it seems that there are numerous biographers, journalists, and cinephiles alike who have speculated about her sexuality.
Her relationships with Robert Taylor and Frank Fay are believed to have been just “for show,” much like the relationship between Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Unlike Marlon Brando, Barbara Stanwyck would fiercely guard her private life and her sexuality.
In fact, she would throw journalists and writers out of her house when she would get pushed about her sexuality. In her later years, she would accuse one journalist of senior abuse for asking about her sexuality.
One of the most frightening screen performances that classic Hollywood has given us was Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The enigmatic role was played by actor Anthony Perkins, who himself was an enigma.
While he was married and had two children, it was rumored that he would pursue relationships with men on the side. Once again, Scotty Bowers comes into the picture, as he claimed that he would introduce the actor to many “handsome young men.”
It’s also rumored that the actor received flack and was often mocked for his alleged homosexuality. If such is the case, it’s only natural that he tried his best to keep his personal life as private as possible.
Another character actor who allegedly also had relations with men was Montgomery Clift. Some media outlets have done their best to depict the actor as a troubled soul who battled depression due to hiding a dark secret.
However, there’s another perspective that he was actually very comfortable with his affections for men. Many of Montgomery Clift’s roles involved him being a brooding and almost depressive character.
Yet, this was in stark contrast to his real-life personality. He was known to be very lighthearted and carefree when he was with his partners. He also refuted many of the restrictions that Hollywood studios put on actors. He refused to take roles that he didn’t feel suited him.
This put Montgomery Clift ahead of his time. Upon reflection, perhaps he was a pioneer in making Hollywood more accepting toward homosexual stars.
But we must remember that not everyone could be as bold or open as Marlon Brando or Montgomery Clift. One of the biggest crossover stars during the early days of Cinema was the Welsh actor and composer, Ivor Novello.
Until 1967, homosexual relations were illegal in the UK. As such, he had to keep his sexuality private in his native country. But traveling across the pond to Hollywood changed nothing, as the climate in the first half of the twentieth century was still hostile to homosexuality.
Ivor Novello never publicly revealed his sexuality. Nevertheless, among his social circles it seemed that his homosexuality was apparent. It’s also believed that prior to 1967, the British police would turn a blind eye to his liaisons with men.
In Hollywood, it seems as if he managed to escape the LAPD’s vice squad as well as the snapshots from the paparazzi.
One wonders that had he been born in a different era, he could be open about his feelings without worrying about keeping it quiet from others.
Today, things have changed tremendously in Hollywood. As we discussed in our introduction, this is one of the few industries that’s tolerant toward homosexuals. It’s now an industry where the biggest stars as well as newcomers can be open about their sexuality.
Many of the earliest supporters of same-sex marriage came from Hollywood. In recent years, many great Hollywood films have revolved around same-sex relationships.
As we now take it for granted, we must remember that this wasn’t always the case. We must remember how Ivor Novello kept his sexuality a big secret. We must remember how Barbara Stanwyck was bothered by intrusive journalists and authors.
We must also be grateful for actors such as James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Montgomery Clift who weren’t afraid to be open about homosexuality. It’s because of their frankness that Hollywood has made progress.
So what do you think about how Old Hollywood stars who were secretly homosexual were treated? Do you feel that progress came too late? Do you also think Hollywood should ignore a star’s private lives and values?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
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