glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy






Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

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.

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

  <previous page   page: 1  2    

Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about The Arts

   Related Entries
arts >> Overview:  American Television, Situation Comedies

American television sitcoms have consistently reflected the presence of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people, often in distorted and stereotyped ways, but occasionally in ways that acknowledge our humanity and complexity.

arts >> Overview:  Film Actors: Lesbian

Lesbian actresses have played a significant role in Hollywood, but their contributions have rarely been recognized or spoken of openly; the "lavender marriage" is by no means a relic of the past.

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

Handsome, athletic, graceful, and charismatic, actor Errol Flynn was widely rumored to enjoy sexual relations with men as well as women.

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.


"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  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  


This Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.