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Special Features Index  

 
Spotlight Film Actors: Gay and Bisexual Male
 
spacer Gay and Bisexual Male Film Actors have made significant contributions to cinematic art and Western culture from the silent era forward. Although few gay actors have been permitted the luxury of openness, many have challenged and helped reconfigure notions of masculinity and, to a lesser extent, of homosexuality. spacer
 
 
Chad Allen (b. 1974) gained fame playing an autistic child on the hit television show St. Elsewhere. Unlike many child stars, Allen successfully made the transition to accomplished adult actor and producer. Allen, who is openly gay, has also become an advocate for glbtq rights.
 
 
  Jon Robin Baitz (b. 1961) is a leading contemporary American playwright known for works that are both morally serious and politically conscious. His career has included gigs as a television and film producer as well as a film actor.  
 
 
  John BarrowmanJohn Barrowman (b. 1967) is an actor and singer who has won plaudits as a musical theater star, as well as for his roles in film and television.  
 
 
  Sir Dirk Bogarde (1921-1999) only tacitly acknowledged his homosexuality during most of his life, but he deserves credit as the first actor to create a sympathetic gay character in British film.  
 
 
  Raymond BurrRaymond Burr (1917-1993) was a television and film actor who will always be identified with Perry Mason, the character he played in a long-running courtroom drama series, but he has a particular significance in glbtq history for his response to the pressure he faced as a gay actor in a homophobic culture.  
 
 
  Charles Busch (b. 1954) has distinguished himself through his virtuouso performances of "grand dame" characters and through his writing of dramatic vehicles for these roles. His acting credits include roles in Die Mommie Die and Psycho Beach Party.  
 
 
  Dan ButlerDan Butler (b. 1954) is an actor best known for his portrayal of "Bulldog Briscoe" on the television comedy Frasier. Butler not only came out as a gay man, but also authored and starred in the gay-themed play The Only Worse Thing You Could Have Told Me.  
 
 
  Simon Callow (b. 1949), a versatile British actor, has played a wide variety of roles on the stage, in films, and on television, but has remarked on his special affinity for gay roles.  
 
 
  Richard ChamberlainRichard Chamberlain (b. 1935) rose to fame in the in the early 1960s playing the title role in the popular American television series Dr. Kildare. His career took a very successful turn in the late 1970s and early 1980s when he became the undisputed king of the cable television mini-series.  
 
 
  Graham Chapman (1941-1989) was a comic actor, writer, and member of Britain's madcap Monty Python troupe. He was in the vanguard of actors to come out publicly as gay.  
 
 
  Noel CowardNoël Coward (1899-1973) was an accomplished playwright, film and television actor, composer, singer, and cabaret performer. Coward dominated the British stage between the world wars, then reoriented his career in the direction of America.  
 
 
Leslie Cheung (1956-2003) was an androgynously handsome Hong Kong actor and pop singer who played sexually ambiguous characters, as well as romantic leads in both gay- and heterosexually-themed films. His suicide shocked fans who were unaware of his history of depression.
 
 
  Montgomery CliftMontgomery Clift (1920-1966) was not only an extraordinary actor, but also an isolated and tortured, closeted gay man, who used drugs and alcohol to escape his pain.  
 
 
  Alan CummingAlan Cumming (b. 1965) is a versatile actor who has performed a wide variety of roles on stage, screen, and television, earning numerous awards for his acting and also for his support of glbtq causes.  
 
 
  Brad Davis (1949-1991) was an American gay film icon who has been described as "the first heterosexual actor to die of AIDS," even though he was widely known as bisexual within the entertainment community.  
 
 
  James DeanJames Dean (1931-1955) spent only two years in Hollywood before his untimely death, but during that time he became an enduring icon of American film, one whose brooding non-conformity helped challenge rigid notions of masculinity.  
 
 
  Divine (1945-1988) was a character actor, nightclub singer, and international cult star who generally performed his stage show and movie roles in drag. Divine became famous through his appearances in John Waters' films.  
 
 
  Christopher Durang (b. 1949) is a fiercely comic playwright, as well as actor and screenwriter, who often incorporates gay themes and characters in his plays.  
 
 
  John EppersonJohn Epperson (b. 1955) is recognized as a talented actor and writer. He has had an extremely successful career performing as the glamorous and hilarious drag diva Lypsinka, among other characters.  
 
 
  Rupert EverettRupert Everett (b. 1959) came out in a press interview in Paris in 1989. Since then, the film star has defined and re-defined himself for the mass media as a gay male actor, being notably open about his homosexuality.  
 
 
  Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1946-1982) is revered as a director who brought "New German Cinema" to foreign audiences, but he was also a talented actor who often appeared in front of the camera.  
 
 
Harvey FiersteinHarvey Fierstein (b. 1954) is a stage and film actor who has had phenomenal success as both a performer and a playwright, and has been steadfastly committed to the cause of glbtq rights.
 
 
  Errol FlynnErrol Flynn (1909-1959) was a sexually magnetic actor most famous for his swashbuckling roles. During his lifetime, he was widely rumored to enjoy sexual relations with men as well as women. His first wife insisted that the rumors were true.  
 
 
  Stephen FryStephen Fry (b. 1957) scored a triumph as Oscar Wilde in the film Wilde. In addition to his career as an actor, Fry is also an accomplished comic, novelist, memoirist, and philanthropist.  
 
 
  Sir John GielgudSir John Gielgud (1904-2000) has long been acknowledged as one of the greatest British actors of the twentieth century.  
 
 
  Farley GrangerFarley Granger (b. 1925) is best known for playing strikingly handsome yet emotionally vulnerable young men in classic 1940s films, but his long and productive career encompasses theater and television roles as well.  
 
 
  Cary GrantCary Grant (1904-1986) consistently denied rumors of his bisexuality, but his good looks, charisma, and ambiguous sexuality enchanted women and men alike. Grant is credited as the first to use the word "gay" in a homosexual context onscreen.  
 
 
  William "Billy" Haines (1900-1973) was one of the top five motion picture actors from 1928 to 1933 and later became one of the most successful interior designers in the United States.  
 
 
  Neil Patrick HarrisNeil Patrick Harris (b. 1973) earned celebrity as a teenager for playing the title role in the television series Doogie Howser, M. D. Harris has since made a successful transition to mature roles and has also spoken out on behalf of glbtq causes.  
 
 
  Nigel Hawthorne (1929-2001), a British stage and film actor, was acclaimed as the first openly gay actor to be nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor for his performance of the title role in The Madness of King George in 1995.  
 
 
  Gordon Heath (1918-1991) was an African-American actor, director, and folk-singer who appeared in theater, film, television, and radio productions, but is best known as a Parisian cabaret performer.  
 
 
  Sir Robert HelpmannSir Robert Helpmann (1909-1986) was an actor, dancer, and choreographer who was present at the creation of premier ballet companies in both Great Britain and Australia.  
 
 
Rock HudsonRock Hudson (1925-1985) was a product of Hollywood's star system who became an international symbol of heterosexuality, wearing a mask until it was savagely ripped off when he was diagnosed with AIDS.
 
 
  John InmanJohn Inman (1935-2007) was an acclaimed comic actor who gained international fame for his endearing portrayal of the fey salesman Mr. Humphries on the television series Are You Being Served?.  
 
 
  Michael JeterMichael Jeter (1952-2003) was a character actor who played a wide variety of roles on stage, in movies, and on television, and also helped raise money for AIDS research.  
 
 
  Bruce LaBruceBruce LaBruce (b. 1964) is a founder of the "queercore" movement, a filmmaker, and a reluctant pornographer who reaffirms and celebrates the outsider status of homosexuals.  
 
 
  Nathan LaneNathan Lane (1956) is a highly-acclaimed actor who is not only openly gay himself, but has portrayed gay characters in several plays and films including Frankie and The Birdcage.  
 
 
  Charles LaughtonCharles Laughton (1889-1962) was an Anglo-American stage and screen actor and director who scored many triumphs in a distinguished career, but nevertheless suffered for much of his life from self-loathing resulting in part from internalized homophobia and embarrassment about his obesity.  
 
 
  Alfred LuntAlfred Lunt (1892-1977) and Lynn Fontanne, with whom he lived in a "lavender marriage," were dubbed the "first family of the American theater." In addition to his many stage roles, Lunt enjoyed a significant career in film.  
 
 
  Roddy McDowallRoddy McDowall (1928-1998) was a British-born actor who made a graceful transition from a juvenile star to a highly versatile character actor on both stage and screen.  
 
 
  Sir Ian McKellenSir Ian McKellen (b. 1939) is arguably the finest Shakespearean actor of his generation and was the first British subject to be knighted after publicly revealing his homosexuality, an event that proved more controversial within the gay community than in the mainstream.  
 
 
Sal MineoSal Mineo (1939-1976) was twice nominated for an Academy Award and enjoyed success as a stage director and recording artist. He is remembered chiefly for his performance in Rebel without a Cause.
 
 
  John Cameron MitchellJohn Cameron Mitchell (b. 1963) had already achieved recognition as an actor, but his multiple talents as performer, writer, and filmmaker came to wide public notice in 2001 with the release of his prize-winning film, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  
 
 
  George Nader (1921-2002) was a popular leading man of the 1950s and 1960s. He did not publicly acknowledge his sexual orientation and his long relationship with his partner Mark Miller until after the death of Rock Hudson in 1986.  
 
 
  Ramon NovarroRamon Novarro (1899-1968), the romantic idol of Hollywood silent films in the 1920s, has been perceived as a distinctly effeminate performer. Even though he enjoyed great success as a heterosexual leading man, his homosexuality was a fairly open secret in Hollywood.  
 
 
  Ivor Novello (1893-1951) was a show business renaissance man extraordinaire. He not only composed the scores of musical comedies, but also acted in films while dominating the London stage as a playwright and romantic leading man for three decades.  
 
 
  Anthony Perkins (1932-1992), who will forever be remembered for his portrayal of Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, often seemed as tortured in his personal life as the troubled characters he played on film, hiding--and perhaps despising--his true nature while desperately seeking happiness and "normality."  
 
 
  David Hyde PierceDavid Hyde Pierce (b. 1959) is an award-winning actor better known for his comic performance on the long-running hit comedy television series Frasier than for his many film roles.  
 
 
  Craig Russell (1948-1990) was one of the major female impersonators of the 1970s and 1980s. He was also an accomplished actor who starred in the Canadian feature film Outrageous (1977), one of the first North American films with a gay theme to achieve widespread distribution  
 
 
  Dick Sargent (1930-1994) is most widely remembered as "the second Darrin" on the television sitcom Bewitched. Sargent remained closeted for most of his career, but came out in 1991 and embraced gay activism as a "new mission in life."  
 
 
George TakeiGeorge Takei (b. 1937) is best known for his role as Mr. Sulu on the cult-classic television series Star Trek and subsequent films. Since coming out as a gay man, he has also been an articulate advocate for glbtq rights.
 
 
  Rudolph ValentinoRudolph Valentino (1895-1926) was the most popular silent-screen star. His androgynous persona, at once assertively virile and gracefully sensitive, threatened traditional images of American masculinity in a crucial period of cultural change.  
 
 
  Bruce Vilanch (b. 1948) is a comedy writer and performer who has appeared on stage, television, and film and is a tireless proponent of glbtq causes.  
 
 
  Clifton WebbClifton Webb (1891-1966) rescued the Film Sissy from secondary status, then moved on to a variety of comic and dramatic roles.  
 
 
  Kenneth Williams (1926-1988) was an actor, raconteur, and writer beloved by the British public as much for his outrageously camp persona as for his comedic skills.  
 
 
  Paul Winfield (1941-2004) was a film, stage, and television actor who was openly gay in his private life, but maintained public silence about his homosexuality.  
 
 
  B. D. WongB. D. Wong (b. 1960) came to prominence with his extraordinary performance in M. Butterfly and has since established himself as a talented character actor in film and television and as a champion of glbtq causes.  
 
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