Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 31

Translation from German: Open me up!

George Grizzard, veteran gay actor

Veteran stage, film and TV actor George Grizzard (pronounced Griz-ZARD) was a gay man who was associated with the stage dramas of Edward Albee – he originated the stage role of Nick in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (shown seated in photo above). Grizzard commented that during rehearsals he never realized it would be such a big hit. “Then it caught on like wildfire – the reaction from people and the crowds clamoring to get in. It was startling. It is such a brilliant play on so many levels. It made people's minds go wild in 1962.”

An early film success was in Otto Preminger’s Advise and Consent (1962). Notably, Grizzard portrayed John Adams in the PBS TV miniseries The Adams Chronicles (1976), but his work ran the gamut, from appearances on TV’s Golden Girls, Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Law & Order to Clint Eastwood’s film, Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Grizzard’s last movie appearance. In a varied career spanning 50 years, he was cast in 40 films, hundreds of television episodes and numerous Broadway plays. Both his Broadway and films debuts were made with Paul Newman.

Everyone liked him, and everyone knew he was gay. Because Grizzard lived quietly and respectfully, the media treated him in kind. His partner of nearly 40 years was William Tynan, also a stage and TV actor. Grizzard kept his ego in check and had a strong work ethic. He also won Emmys and Tonys and was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2002.

Grizzard died in 2007 at the age of 79 from lung cancer in NYC, where he lived with his partner, although Grizzard and Tynan also maintained a country home together in Litchfield County, Connecticut.

In this film clip from Advise and Consent, he appears with a very young Betty White.

And excellent tribute to Grizzard can be found in this article:,8599,1668755,00.html

Friday, July 29, 2011

July 29

Ivor Novello (1893-1951)

Born in Wales in 1893, Novello was one of the most popular entertainers of the early twentieth century. He was a noted composer, singer, playwright, and actor. Most considered him a rival to Noel Coward, who was six years Novello's junior. Coward later wrote that he was envious of Novello’s handsome appearance and had sought to copy his glamorous style. Coward and Novello went on to become good friends. In fact it was actor Robert (Bobbie) Andrews, Novello's life partner for 35 years, who introduced Novello to the young Noel Coward. Bobby Andrews and Novello were later to appear together in many of Novello's plays and musicals.

Novello’s first success was as a songwriter. At age 21 he wrote the music for Keep the Home Fires Burning, an immensely popular sentimental song of the WW I era that brought Novello money and fame.

In the 2002 film Gosford Park, the guests at a country house are entertained by Novello (played by Jeremy Northam), who performs on the piano. Six Novello songs were used in the soundtrack.

While Novello continued to write scores to songs, musicals and revues, he developed a career as an actor. His good looks, talent and suave style led to success on both stage and screen; he was considered England’s first great male silent film star, a British “Rudolph Valentino”. Like Coward, Novello enjoyed simultaneous careers in both Great Britain and the U.S. Novello earned enough money to buy a lavish, sprawling country house near Maidenhead in 1927. Named Redroofs, the property was the setting for extravagant, unconventional entertaining, often characterized by untempered homosexual excesses. Novello later bought a house in Jamaica where he and his partner Bobby Andrews went on holiday together.

Novello hit his stride in the 1930s, writing music for Drury Lane shows that blended musical comedy with opera, operetta and modern and classical dance. Novello usually starred in his own shows. Unfortunately, he spent a notorious four weeks in prison during WW II for misuse of petrol rationing coupons (to obtain gasoline for his Rolls-Royce), a serious offense at the time, and the trauma of this incarceration had serious and lasting effects on his life. After his release, the sentimental song We’ll Gather Lilacs (from Perchance to Dream, 1945) became a hit during WW II.

Novello remained the most consistently successful writer of British musicals until Andre Lloyd Webber came onto the scene in the 1970s.

Novello died suddenly of coronary thrombosis in 1951, at the age of 58, at his London flat in the presence of his partner Bobby Andrews. Thousands lined the streets to the funeral service, which was broadcast live on radio. For the past fifty-four years, the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters' annual awards have been nick-named the Ivors, in honor of Novello.

• Novello never allowed his left profile to be photographed or filmed.
• It was Novello who came up with the phrase, “Me Tarzan – You Jane.” Novello developed the dialogue for the 1932 film Tarzan the Ape Man.
Alfred Hitchcock cast Novello in one of his earliest films, The Lodger (1927).

The web site for the Ivor Novello Appreciation Bureau can be found at this link:

We’ll Gather Lilacs from the WW II era, sung by Marion Grimaldi.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 27

U.S. Congressman Barney Frank

Barney Frank is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-Massachusetts) and is the most prominent gay politician in the United States. He is the former chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee (2007–2011). Democratic speech writer Josh Gottheimer describes Frank as "one of the brightest and most energetic defenders of civil rights issues."

Frank often refers to himself self-deprecatingly as a “gay, left-handed Jew.” His frequent quick witted, blunt, brash and painfully honest comments have earned him a reputation that he is not to be messed with, and to say that Frank is outspoken on matters of civil rights is understatement. Just one example: In 2006, Frank and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were accused by Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) of having a "radical homosexual agenda." Frank responded, "I do have things I would like to see adopted on behalf of LGBT people: they include the right to marry the individual of our choice, the right to serve in the military to defend our country, and the right to a job based solely on our own qualifications. I acknowledge that this is an agenda, but I do not think that any self-respecting radical in history would have considered advocating people's rights to get married, join the army, and earn a living as a terribly inspiring revolutionary platform."

Frank and "driver" Steve Gobie (right)

In 1987, Frank revealed his homosexuality to the public. He was the first U.S. congressman to do so voluntarily. Just two years later he was embroiled in a scandal. He had engaged the services of a male escort some years before and subsequently befriended him, housed him and hired him as a driver, despite knowing that the driver was on probation. Worse, Frank used his House of Representatives privileges to void the driver’s parking tickets. Then Frank found out that his driver was running a prostitution service out of his Capitol Hill apartment and fired him. With that, the driver went public and told his story to the media. Surprisingly, attempts by the House Ethics Committee (led by Larry Craig - I’m not making this up) to censure or expel Frank failed, and he has won reelection ever since (fifteen times).

Although Frank brought shame to the doorstep of the House of Representatives, he did not hide from his sins. His skills at bi-partisan brokering served him well. At the same time as the Frank-Gobie Capitol Hill prostitution scandal erupted, sex-related cases were brought up against congressmen Gus Savage, Jim Bates, and Buz Lukens. One Republican congressman said, "I don't give a damn about Buz Lukens. . . I don't give a damn about Gus Savage . . . I don't give a damn about Jim Bates. . . . but if I were dying in the hospital, Barney Frank would come see me. The others would be filing for my office space."

Shortly after coming out, Frank met and began dating Herb Moses, an economist and LGBT activist; their relationship lasted for eleven years until an amicable break-up in July, 1998. Moses was the first partner of an openly gay member of Congress to receive spousal benefits, and the two were considered “Washington's most powerful and influential gay couple.”

During the sub-prime mortgage crisis, Frank was characterized as a key congressional deal-maker, an unlikely bridge between his party's left-wing base and free market conservatives in the Bush administration. Hank Paulson, the U.S. Treasury Secretary for the Bush administration, said he enjoyed Frank's penchant for brokering deals. "He is looking to get things done and make a difference; he focuses on areas of agreement and tries to build on those.”

Frank resides in a modest studio apartment in Newton, Massachusetts, and a small apartment in Washington, DC.