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Kulp, Nancy (1921-1991)  
 
page: 1  2  

Kulp died of cancer at her home in Palm Desert, California on February 3, 1991.

Lesbian News hailed Kulp for creating a role model for young lesbians in the 1960s with the Jane Hathaway character, who was intelligent, decisive, respected, self-sufficient--and a member of a women-only bird-watching club.

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While Kulp may have projected a lesbian image in her work, she did not proclaim her own lesbian identity publicly. Like many other actors of her era, including Rock Hudson, with whom she worked in Strange Bedfellows, she undoubtedly realized that revealing her sexual orientation could seriously jeopardize--indeed, possibly end--a career.

In a 1989 interview with Boze Hadleigh, Kulp was painfully circumspect in speaking of her sexual identity.

"As long as you reproduce my reply word for word, and the question, you may use it," she told him. "I'd appreciate it if you'd let me phrase the question. There is more than one way. Here's how I would ask it: 'Do you think that opposites attract?' My own reply would be that I'm the other sort--I find that birds of a feather flock together. That answers your question." Never in the course of the interview did she refer to herself as a lesbian.

When not focusing on what Hadleigh called "the Big Question," which Kulp corrected to "the Fatal Question" in terms of show business, she spoke more freely, decrying the fact that when the media present human interest stories "they mean heterosexual human interest, exclusively"; responding to a question about "a significant other" in her life with a coy "Into each life a little romance must fall"; and expressing admiration for gay Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, who, she noted, had been outed.

Asked if she would have come out as a member of Congress, Kulp replied, "Not voluntarily. If I were outed, then I would not deny it." After further discussion she added, "If one is past fifty or sixty, it's almost like saying that most of your life you've been too embarrassed to admit it or to speak up."

Unfortunately for Kulp, she lived in a time and a culture in which an acknowledgment of one's homosexuality was defined as an admission, and she worked in an industry in which speaking up about it constituted answering a "fatal question" professionally.

Linda Rapp

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arts >> Cukor, George

Responsible for many of the most popular and critically praised films of Hollywood's golden age, George Cukor became typed as a "woman's director," a phrase that may have also alluded to his homosexuality.

arts >> Flynn, Errol

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social sciences >> Frank, Barney

Openly gay U. S. congressman Barney Frank has been a leader not only in the cause of gay and lesbian rights but also on issues including fair housing, consumer rights, banking, and immigration.

arts >> Hudson, Rock

A product of Hollywood's star system, Rock Hudson became an international symbol of heterosexuality, wearing a mask until it was savagely ripped off when he was diagnosed with AIDS.

arts >> Tomlin, Lily

Less well-known for being herself than for the many memorable personages she "becomes" during her performances, comedienne Lily Tomlin has long been a supporter of gay and lesbian rights, but only recently came out herself.


    Bibliography
   

"Beverly Hillbilly Nancy Kulp Is Now Hell-bent for Congress." People Weekly 22 (November 5, 1984): 77.

Hadleigh, Boze. "Nancy Kulp." Hollywood Lesbians. New York: Barricade Books, 1994. 77-96.

"Nancy Kulp, 'Beverly Hillbillies' Star, '84 House Hopeful." Chicago Sun-Times (February 5, 1991): 54.

Voorhees, John. "Nancy Kulp Is Enjoying Her Latest Role as a 'Hillbillies' Host." Seattle Times (April 5, 1987): 9.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Kulp, Nancy  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated August 17, 2005  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/kulp_n.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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