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andrew potter
Laird Cregar died at age thirty-one, after a film career that lasted only five years, but his wicked and sinister presence made him famous in such films as Blood and Sand, Wake Up Screaming, The Black Swan, and Hangover Square. He played the Devil in Heaven Can Wait and Jack the Ripper in The Lodger.

Historian Gregory Mank called Cregar “an anguished homosexual.” William Mann, in Behind the Screen, wrote that gay rights activist Harry HAY knew Cregar in the 1930s, when the rotund actor was living with a boyfriend, “There was no attempt to hide it. He wasn’t troubled by being gay.”

What did trouble Cregar was his weight, which kept him from obtaining the leading roles he craved. His premature death was the result of a heart attack brought on by a crash diet.

Stern, Keith (2009-09-01). Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals (Kindle Locations 3897-3904). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

Further Readings:

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr by Michael Seth Starr
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Applause Theatre and Cinema Books (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 142347371X
ISBN-13: 978-1423473718
Amazon: Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr

Now in paperback, the complete story of the actor's career, including his secret gay life. Raymond Burr (1917-1993) was an enigma. A film noir regular known for his villainous roles in movies like Rear Window, he eventually became one of the most popular stars in television history as the lead actor on two top-rated dramas, Perry Mason and Ironside, which between them ran virtually uninterrupted for 20 years. But Raymond Burr was leading a secret gay life at a time in Hollywood when exposure would have been career suicide. To protect his secret, Burr fabricated a tragic past for himself as a grieving husband and father. He claimed to have been twice widowed - he said his first wife had died in a plane crash, and his second marriage had ended with his wife's early death from cancer. And there was also a dead son - 10-year-old Michael, who lost his battle with leukemia. Neither of the wives nor Michael ever existed. But that didn't stop these lies from being perpetuated again and again, even in Burr's New York Times obituary. Hiding in Plain Sight examines the totality of Raymond Burr's career and his personal life, including his 35 years with partner Robert Benevides. The author interviewed over 30 people who knew or worked with Burr, including Angela Lansbury, Barbara Hale, Robert Wagner, Gale Storm, and more.

Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969 by William J. Mann
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult; 1st edition (October 15, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670030171
ISBN-13: 978-0670030170
Amazon: Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969

William Mann's Behind the Screen is a thoughtful and eye- opening look at the totality of the gay experience in studio-era Hollywood. Much has been written about how gays have been portrayed in the movies but no book— until now— has looked at their influence behind the screen. Whether out of or in the closet, gays and lesbians have from the very beginning played a significant role in shaping Hollywood. Gay actors were among the earliest matinee idols and gay directors have long been among the most popular and commercially successful filmmakers. In fact, gay set and costume designers created the very look of Hollywood.

With this landmark book, Mann fills a void in the Hollywood history archives. Written in the tradition of Neal Gabler's An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood and based on hundreds of hours of interviews with survivors of this golden age, Behind the Screen is destined to become a classic of film literature.

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