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Gordon Heath & Lee Payant

Gordon Heath (September 20, 1918 - August 27, 1991) was an African-American actor and musician who narrated the animated feature film Animal Farm (1954) and appeared in the title role of The Emperor Jones (1953) and Othello (1955), both live BBC telecasts, respectively directed by Alvin Rakoff and Tony Richardson. Heath found racial and sexual attitudes in Europe to be more tolerant than in the US, particularly regarding his white boyfriend, Lee Payant. The two had met in America in 1947. He and Payant settlend in Paris.

In 1945 Gordon Heath became the first African American staff announcer at a major US radio station, WMCA in New York. Later that year he starred in the play Deep Are the Roots, playing a returning war hero facing racism in American South. The play ran on Broadway for fourteen months, and then transferred, with Heath remaining in the lead, to London's West End.

He and Payant, operated a Left Bank café in Paris, France, called L'Abbaye where many of the duo's folk albums were recorded and released on various international labels including Elektra Records. They entertained enthusiastic Parisian audiences as a folk-singing duo for nearly thirty years.

Despite his early success, Heath found work as an actor only sporadically in later life. He narrated the 1956 animated Animal Farm and had a supporting role in The Madwoman of Chaillot.


UMass Amherst Libraries. Gordon Heath and Lee Payant (©2)
Gordon Heath was an African-American actor and musician who narrated the animated feature film Animal Farm and appeared in the title role of The Emperor Jones and Othello, both live BBC telecasts, respectively directed by Alvin Rakoff and Tony Richardson. Heath found racial and sexual attitudes in Europe to be more tolerant than in the US, particularly regarding his white boyfriend, Lee Payant. The two had met in America in 1947. He and Payant settlend in Paris and operated L'Abbaye.





L'Abbaye was featured in a 1952 issue of National Geographic for an article on the 2000th anniversary of Paris. Correspondence and cables from the magazine's photographers document the research process for the article. (By Emily Oswald | Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries, 2011: http://www.library.umass.edu/spcoll/story/heath.htm)


Heath and Payant at l'Abbaye, March 1950. (By Emily Oswald | Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries, 2011: http://www.library.umass.edu/spcoll/story/heath.htm)


Heath and Payant sing by candlelight in an undated photograph. (By Emily Oswald | Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries, 2011: http://www.library.umass.edu/spcoll/story/heath.htm)


An undated shot of Heath and Payant at their apartment in Paris. (By Emily Oswald | Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries, 2011: http://www.library.umass.edu/spcoll/story/heath.htm)


An undated photograph of a typical music-work session at home with Lee. (By Emily Oswald | Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries, 2011: http://www.library.umass.edu/spcoll/story/heath.htm)

Heath discussed his sexuality in his fascinating autobiography, Deep Are the Roots.

Payant, born in 1924, died on December 14, 1976. Heath died in Paris after a lengthy AIDS-related illness on August 27, 1991.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Heath

Lee Payant (born 1924 in Seattle, Washington – died 14 December 1976 in Paris, France), was an actor and film director perhaps best known for voicing the title role of the 1960s TV serial The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe in English. (Heath and Lee in the window of their apartment in Paris, February 1957. (By Emily Oswald | Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries, 2011: http://www.library.umass.edu/spcoll/story/heath.htm))

From 1949 until his death in 1976 he and his musical associate and life partner Gordon Heath ran a cafe and nightclub named L'Abbaye on the Rive Gauche in Paris. Here they both regularly played American and French folk, gospel and blues songs - being the only performers at the Abbaye. L'Abbaye was the namesake of their duet albums titled Songs Of The Abbaye (1954), Encores From The Abbaye (1955), and An Evening at L'Abbaye (1957) on the Elektra label. Payant died of cancer in Paris in 1976.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Payant

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=elimyrevandra-20
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=elimyrevandra-20

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher


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