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Special Features Index  

 
Spotlight Film Actors: Lesbian and Bisexual Female
 
Lesbian and Bisexual Female Film ActorsLesbian and Bisexual Actresses have played a significant role in Hollywood since the days of silent film, but their contributions have rarely been recognized or spoken of openly. The "lavender marriage" is by no means a relic of the past despite the path-breaking careers of openly lesbian stars such as Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O'Donnell, and Lily Tomlin.
 
 
Josephine BakerJosephine Baker (1906-1975) achieved acclaim as the twentieth century's first international black female sex symbol, but kept carefully hidden her many sexual liaisons with women, which continued from adolescence to the end of her life.
 
 
Tallulah BankheadTallulah Bankhead (1903?-1968) is today remembered mostly as an irreverent wit and volcanic life force, though she was also one of the most significant actresses of her time.
 
 
Anita BerberAnita Berber (1899-1928) was an expressionist exotic dancer and actress in German silent movies who epitomized for many the decadence of Weimar-era Berlin for decades.
 
 
Sandra BernhardSandra Bernhard (b. 1955) is a sharp-tongued comedienne, writer, singer, and actor known almost as well for her amorphous sexuality as for her cynical wit.
 
 
Margaret ChoMargaret Cho (b. 1968) is a Korean-American bisexual actress turned stand-up comedian who has become one of the most prominent Asian Americans in show business and in glbtq culture.
 
 
Ellen DegeneresEllen DeGeneres (b. 1958) has made great contributions to the world of comedy and participated in several film projects, but she will probably be best remembered as the first lesbian to star as a lesbian on her own network television show.
 
 
Lea DelariaLea DeLaria (b. 1958) has been a proudly out lesbian from the very beginning of her career. She has earned accolades for her talents as an actor, a singer, and a stand-up comic.
 
 
Portia De RossiPortia De Rossi (b. 1973) moved almost effortlessly from a teen modeling career to acting roles in film and television; her widely publicized relationship with Ellen DeGeneres has made her one of the best known lesbians in American pop culture.
 
 
Marlene DietrichMarlene Dietrich (1901-1992) was an actress and cabaret performer who scandalized society almost as much by wearing trousers in public as by her numerous love affairs with both men and women.
 
 
Frances Faye (1912-1991) is best known as a jazz vocalist and cabaret performer, but the openly bisexual entertainer is also remembered for her riveting performance in the 1977 film Pretty Baby.
 
 
Lynn FontanneLynn Fontanne (1887-1983) and her husband Alfred Lunt were known as the first family of the American theater, but theirs was a lavender marriage. Their presentation of themselves as the ideal married couple may have been their greatest performance.
 
 
Jodie FosterJodie Foster (b. 1962) is one of the most accomplished film actresses of her generation. Foster has been a glbtq icon for decades, though only recently has she obliquely acknowledged her lesbianism.
 
 
Greta GarboGreta Garbo (1905-1990) was a mysterious, aloof, occasionally androgynous actress who ignited the passions of men and women alike.
 
 
Sara GilbertSara Gilbert (b. 1975) is an actress who became a favorite with lesbian audiences for her portrayal of tomboy Darlene on the long-running television series Roseanne. Gilbert came out publicly as a lesbian in 2004.
 
 
Lesley Gore (b. 1946) was one of the few successful female solo artists during the era of the "girl groups." She is also a successful songwriter and actress. In 2003, she came out publicly and hosted an episode of In the Life.
 
 
Joan JettJoan Jett (b. 1960) is an aggressive, punk-influenced guitarist and singer associated with the "riot grrrl" phenomenon. She remains vital as a musician, producer, and actor and has attracted a sizeable lesbian following.
 
 
Cherry JonesCherry Jones (b. 1956) is a versatile American actress who became the first out lesbian to win a Tony Award when she was chosen as Best Actress in 1995.
 
 
Sheila KuehlSheila Kuehl (b. 1941) was once best known as a youthful actor. She is now best known for her work as a California legislator and advocate for glbtq rights.
 
 
Nancy Kulp (1921-1991) was an accomplished character actress who specialized in playing prim, straight-laced spinsters, most notably bank secretary Jane Hathaway on the long-running situation comedy The Beverly Hillbillies. Kulp publicly acknowledged her lesbianism only towards the end of her life.
 
 
Eva Le GallienneEva Le Gallienne (1899-1991) was an actress, director, producer, teacher, and memoirist, as well as translator. She was one of the most successful figures in the American theater for several decades. Though she had many lovers, she was never comfortable with her lesbianism.
 
 
Jane LynchJane Lynch (b. 1960) is an out lesbian actress who has forged a successful career on television, in movies, and on the stage, including some memorable turns portraying lesbian characters.
 
 
Agnes MooreheadAgnes Moorehead (1900-1974) was not publicly out as a homosexual, but she became a lesbian icon by virtue of her choice of roles during a long and distinguished career. She is probably best known for her role as Endora, the tart-tongued mother-in-law on the situation comedy Bewitched.
 
 
Holly NearHolly Near (b. 1949) is a singer, songwriter, and activist who began her career as an actress, appearing in numerous plays, films, and television episodes.
 
 
Cynthia NixonCynthia Nixon (b. 1966) is an award-winning actress who has performed on stage, on television, and in film. She recently acknowledged publicly that she is bisexual and in a loving relationship with a woman.
 
 
Rosie O'DonnellRosie O'Donnell (b. 1962) is a comedian, actress, television talk show host, and openly gay mom who has achieved remarkable success in her relatively short career.
 
 
Cornelia Otis SkinnerCornelia Otis Skinner (1901-1979) was renowned as a sublime comic talent and gifted character actress during the middle of the twentieth century.
 
 
Wanda SykesWanda Sykes (b. 1964) is an actress and comedian who has never been shy about addressing sensitive or controversial issues on stage. She has also become a spirited advocate for glbtq rights.
 
 
Lily TomlinLily Tomlin (b. 1939) is a comedienne less well-known for being herself than for the many memorable personages she "becomes" during her performances. Tomlin has long been a supporter of gay and lesbian rights, but only recently came out publicly.
 
 
Ethel WatersEthel Waters (1896-1977) is perhaps best remembered for her award-winning performances as an actress, though she was also a renowned Blues singer.
 
 
Suzanne WestenhoeferSuzanne Westenhoefer (b. 1961) is an out, proud, pretty, and funny stand-up comedian and an outspoken supporter of glbtq and feminist causes.
 
 
Elsie De WolfeElsie de Wolfe (1865-1950) enjoyed a career as an actress before helping to create the profession of interior decorating. She was also one of the central figures of an elite New York "Amazon enclave" during the early years of the twentieth century.
 
 
 

 
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