elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
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elisa_rolle

Otis Bigelow and Bill Miller

This post is strictly related to the one I posted sometime ago about Bill Harris, Jack Fontan, Ray Hunger and Alexander Jensen Yow (http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1347308.html), i.e. it's about those beautiful men whose beauty still fascinates us from glossy black an white pictures. They were friends, lovers and sometime long-time partners of photographers, painters, writers, and sometime they were kept men, like Bill Miller. Today I will tell you the story of Otis Bigelow "the best-looking man in Manhattan in 1940, the one who had chosen a beautiful sailor over a suntanned millionaire", only to be betrayed by the beautiful sailor with the same suntanned millionaire, and the one who inspired Gordon Merrick to write the first "happily ever after" Gay Romance; the beautiful sailor was Bill Miller, a man who is listed at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale where his papers are collected as "designer" but of whom you will not find any info on the net as an artist, but plenty you will find as a lover of millionaires and notable artists. He collaborated with Kinsey, sharing his personal journals where he recorded all his sexual encounters with various men. (Picture left: Otis Bigelow, right: Bill Miller)

Following an excerpt from The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America by Charles Kaiser:

"Otis Bigelow lived in Manhattan. He would never think of himself the same way again after the summer of 1942. Bigelow turned twenty-two that June. A striking native of Exeter, New Hampshire, where his father had been a master at the Phillips Exeter Academy, Bigelow was an only child.


Otis Munro Bigelow III was a playwright and theatrical agent whose varied career in the performing arts included acting and dancing. He was the best-looking man in Manhattan in 1940, the one who had chosen a beautiful sailor (Christian William “Bill” Miller) over a suntanned millionaire (George Gallowhur), only to be betrayed by the beautiful sailor with the same suntanned millionaire. Otis is also the one who inspired his then roommate Gordon Merrick to write his happily ever after gay romances. Otis M. Bigelow died in 2007 and was survived by Thierry Mahe, his life partner of more than 50 years.



After his father died, his mother sent him away to Rumsey Hall, a British-style school in Washington, Connecticut, where "Sir, yes, sir" was the required form and the students wore black ties to dinner.

At twelve Bigelow was already having sex with his classmates, but they didn't think their pastime had anything to do with being "gay" or "homosexual," words that they had never heard spoken. "In my world, in the thirties, it simply did not exist," Bigelow recalled.

Like millions before him, and millions after him, Bigelow believed he was simply going through "a stage.... It was just friends, you know, doing something for a friend. There was no masculinity or femininity involved. I thought for many years that it was fine, and that it was a substitute for girls. I always thought I would get married. I went out with girls and loved girls; they were interested in me and I in them and we got along beautifully."

His roommate at Rumsey, an admirer of Tarzan, taught Bigelow how to masturbate. "He loved to go off into the woods and tie me to a tree. Then I would say, 'Oh, Tarzan, Tarzan, where are you?' And he would come swinging through the trees and carry me away."

In 1934, Bigelow transferred to Exeter; two years later, his mother died, and he was devastated.

At Exeter, "There were a couple of guys who could actually see through me, both of whom I think turned out to be totally straight. They would say, `Want to come down to my room?' And I would sneak down after lights out, we would fuck each other between the legs. That's what friends are for! It was just a friendly but mechanical act. More fun than doing it by yourself or doing it with a pillow--or a milk bottle. We tried everything." Later, in New York, he learned the forties slang for this kind of primitive sex: "first-year Princeton."

Once, at a bus station away from school, he was a little more adventurous. "I had gone to the movies and had taken the bus back and went into the john. There was a nice-looking fellow standing there and he took one look at me and took me into one of the booths and stood me on the john. I thought it was wonderful, but I had a terrible attack of conscience afterwards. I went home and scrubbed myself. I had never heard of such a thing."

Bigelow loved the theater, and he played all the leading ladies at Exeter until his voice began to change. In Androcles and the Lion, he was Lavinia and he had to kiss the handsome captain on the cheek. He told the director he didn't want to do it, but the director insisted that he follow the script. "So I did. It was a strange feeling."

When he graduated from Exeter in 1938, he ignored his uncle's admonition to go to college. Instead, he moved to New York, where he hoped to become an actor. While performing summer stock in Rye Beach, New Hampshire, Bigelow had met Gordon Merrick, an actor who had just graduated from Princeton. Bigelow and Merrick used to kiss, but nothing more. Although they shared an apartment when they reached New York, Bigelow was still planning to marry a woman. And quite quickly Gordon decided that he was "very into not being gay," Bigelow recalled.

Three decades later, Merrick wrote The Lord Won't Mind, one of the first gay novels to become a best-seller in the seventies, and he modeled one of its beautiful young men after Bigelow. The other man sharing their apartment was Richard Barr, another Princeton graduate who went to work for the Mercury Theatre that fall and participated in Orson Welles's menacing broadcast of The War of the Worlds. Later, Barr became one of Broadway's most illustrious impresarios. He was Edward Albee's confidant and produced many of his most important plays, including The Zoo Story, Tiny Alice and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In 1968 he coproduced Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band, and, eleven years later, Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. For twenty-one years, he was president of the League of American Theatres and Producers.

Bigelow would never be as famous as his roommates, but among gay men in New York he was a legend: a great many considered him the best-looking man in Manhattan. His life proved how far good looks and good manners could take anyone--regardless of gender or sexual persuasion.

Bigelow socialized with a group of gay men whom his contemporary, the playwright Arthur Laurents, derided as "the silver and china queens." Laurents described these gentlemen as "a class of gay from way back that was always as right-wing as possible, out of a desperate desire to belong. And they haven't changed. It's like gay couples who to try to emulate heterosexual couples. Nothing could be more stupid. I mean that one is sort of the husband and the other is sort of the wife and they have to have fidelity and all this kind of nonsense--instead of seeing how lucky you are if you're two men and have freedom."

Bigelow, Merrick and Barr selected an apartment on East 54th Street, sandwiched between the nightclub El Morocco and a store selling artificial limbs. A subway token still cost a nickel (as it had since the system opened in 1904); the rent for two rooms with a garden, plus kitchen and bath, was $45 a month; and a cluster of nearby restaurants offered shrimp cocktail, a small steak, dessert, and coffee for the grand sum of fifty cents. Instead of office buildings, Third Avenue was lined with brownstones, and it was dominated by the Elevated, whose rumblings Bigelow could hear from inside his apartment.

The nooks and shadows created by this shaft down the center of the avenue played a significant role in gay life in New York before the war: they offered a multitude of discreetly darkened meeting places right in the heart of the metropolis. "It was a little bit spooky," said Murray Gitlin, a Broadway dancer who remembered Third Avenue as "one of the only cruisy places" in the 1940s. "It was like being under palm trees on a summer night," Franklin Macfie quipped. "You could very easily feel you were in Rio!"

"The city smelled totally different than it does today," said Jack Dowling, who later worked for Colt Studios, one of the first emporiums of erotic photographs of attractive men. "There wasn't that much trash on the street, and the air had the wonderful smell of washed concrete. Downtown it smelled of diesel truck exhaust. The Village around West 11th Street, late at night, smelled of baking bread from commercial bakeries. All of the East Side, from the Thirties all the way up to the Sixties, was filled with rooming houses which had their own unique odors."

But Otis Bigelow never went "cruising" outdoors. His good manners, beautiful features and handsome clothes made him immensely sought after at all the most fashionable cocktail parties. And even though he continued to believe that he was destined to marry a woman, he led a very gay Manhattan life.

"I had a tuxedo and tails and all sorts of suits. What I wound up doing, pretty much, when I started, was living on my looks because it was terribly social in those days. Gay bars, no. I didn't go to those until later. But there were elegant bars like Tony's on Swing Alley on West 52d Street where Mabel Mercer sat and sang.

"There were a number of places where wealthy, youngish men had duplex apartments on Park Avenue, and pretty much any day if you dropped by at five o'clock there would be people there for cocktails and, more often than not, somebody would say, 'Well, I have tickets to the ballet and we can drop in on Tony's later.' I was polite and gorgeous, and I was always jumping up to get drinks for people. I had social graces.

"I might meet somebody at a cocktail party who would be staying at the St. Regis. I would walk him home, and he would say, 'Why don't you come up for a drink?' And then he would say, 'Well, why don't you stay over? We'll have breakfast and it'll be nice. Don't walk all that way home: you can sleep on my sofa.' Then there would be a little bit of this and that. It was friendly prep-school sex."

After a few weeks, a friend named Nicky Holden, whom Bigelow thought of as someone "on the fringes of society," introduced Bigelow to "an important acquaintance. It turned out to be an older man of thirty who owned a house on Beekman Place," Bigelow recalled, someone who had made his fortune in the printing business. "He was Jewish and not terribly attractive, but a wonderful man--a funny, witty, cultivated man. He started to invite me to dinner and take me to the theater." His name was Robert Goodhue and he drove a custom-built Packard V-16 convertible. "You cannot imagine what that was like! You could hardly turn around a corner it was so long! It was black with red trim and wire wheels and red leather and a rumble seat. After a couple of weeks, he said, 'I'd like to get out of town for the weekend. Would you like to go to Atlantic City?' Well, that's where you took somebody cheap. So I said, 'I don't think Atlantic City.' And he said, 'How about Williamsburg?' And I said, 'I'd love to' It's funny--I did such a dramatic thing. He was so nice to me, and he used to like to kiss me, though I wouldn't let him kiss me on the mouth. He'd always say, 'You're so beautiful!' We got to Williamsburg and we had this marvelous great big double room. So I said, Well, he deserves it. And I like him. So this eighteen-year-old kid, being very sophisticated, said, 'Well, you've been so nice to me, would you like to see me as I really am?"' The answer was a very rapid "Yes!"

"So I took off all my clothes and let him do me. Well, he thought that was wonderful. I didn't mind. So that became something that we did once in a while when we got back from the theater." When their relationship ended, his patron dissolved into tears and handed his young friend an envelope that contained a check for one thousand dollars.

Bigelow carried the check around for months because he was afraid the bank might report him to his uncle--and he wouldn't know how to explain the check. After he enrolled in Hamilton College, he finally confided in a sympathetic dean, whom he thought was probably gay. The dean assured him he could rely on the bank's discretion, and Bigelow deposited the check in his account.

He immediately bought a 1933 Ford Roadster, "a wonderful car," for the huge sum of one hundred dollars. The other nine hundred was enough to provide him with plenty of spending money for the rest of his college career.

At Hamilton, Bigelow wrote a play, which John C. Wilson, a "class" producer, optioned. Wilson asked him to come to New York in the summer of 1942 to rewrite it. In Manhattan, Bigelow met Maury Paul, a portly gentleman from Philadelphia, who was the original Cholly Knickerbocker society columnist for Hearst. It was Paul who coined the term cafe society one night at the Ritz right after World War I, to describe the unprecedented new groupings of old money with new. Paul noticed that these disparate fun lovers had learned to be friendly in public, even though they would never invite one another to their homes.

"He was supposed to be so evil, but he never laid a glove on me," Bigelow recalled. "He was amused by me." One day Paul took him downstairs to the basement storage room of his apartment house, which was jammed with luxurious furs. "Pick out a coat!" Paul commanded. "I have fifty of them!" Bigelow chose a floor-length raccoon coat but promised to return it. "I don't want it back," the columnist shouted. "Keep it!" Another time the two of them spent an afternoon together at the Liberty Music Shop on Madison Avenue, listening to classical music. "I was just so thrilled by it. We came out with two packages of everything we had listened to and he gave one to me. It was my introduction to classical music--a lifelong pleasure. He was wonderful.

"Once when I went by to see him, there was the handsomest young man I had ever seen: beautifully dressed, beautifully groomed. He was the guy he was keeping. It was trade Maury had picked up, polished up, dressed up. Straight. He came in once or twice a week from New Jersey. Maury bought him a house. The young man was married and had a child. That was his arrangement. Strange man; as nice a man as you would ever want to meet."

Then Bigelow finally fell in love with a sailor: "the most beautiful person I ever saw. It was instant." He met Bill Miller at a party, and fifty years later Bigelow still remembered the moment. "A Frank Sinatra recording of 'I'll Be Seeing You' was playing on the phonograph. We went out and had dinner. So I was in love, and he was in love. He was stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and we kind of spent that month together."

Bill Miller is also famous among his contemporaries as one of the most gorgeous men in 1940s Manhattan. Paul Cadmus drew him, George Platt Lynes photographed him, and everyone wanted him. Miller was by far the most powerful attraction Bigelow had ever felt. "We were at the Waldorf-Astoria in the suite of some wealthy man who invited us to stay over in the spare bedroom," Bigelow remembered. "We were in bed. I looked at Bill, and I thought, 'I can't live without him.' And that was that." Bigelow finally admitted to himself that he really was gay. "I had to face the fact that I had changed."

Bigelow's life was complicated somewhat by the fact that he had met a man named George Gallowhur (1905-1974) earlier in the summer, another "older man" with a slightly higher public profile: a dashing thirty-seven-year-old industrialist who lived in a brownstone in Turtle Bay, an elegant group of houses surrounding a common garden in the East Forties. Gallowhur's neighbor across the rhododendron was Katharine Hepburn. A few doors down was Philip Johnson, the future architect. "George was family to me," Johnson remembered. "He was a rich boy around town who worked." Johnson described himself and Gallowhur as "chickenhawks"--gentlemen who preferred the company of younger men.

The striking, tall, blond Swedish American had made a fortune by inventing Skol, the first successful suntan lotion. While still a student at Princeton in 1926, Gallowhur drew attention to himself by crossing the Atlantic in a fifty-four-foot cutter. Afterward the undergraduate joked to The New York Times that he had considered asking for caviar when the skipper of an ocean liner turned off course to ask whether his tiny craft needed any assistance.

Paul Cadmus remembered Gallowhur as someone who "gave the appearance of being very, very businesslike and a straight American," but who actually "loved to go in for sailors and things like that." Gallowhur fell madly in love with Bigelow, who found him "stunning," but did not reciprocate his feelings. To entice the young undergraduate, Gallowhur made the young man an extraordinary offer.

Bigelow was about to enter his final year in the Naval Reserve Officer Training program at Hamilton. If the student would live with him, Gallowhur would purchase a ship. Then he would donate it to the Coast Guard--on the condition that Bigelow would become its captain. Bigelow was convinced that Gallowhur had the power to keep his promise, and to specify that Bigelow could not be sent to the Pacific.

Bigelow was still seeing Gallowhur when he met Bill Miller, "so I had to tell George I couldn't see him anymore." Gallowhur begged him to reconsider. "Let me give a dinner party for six people," the industrialist suggested. Bigelow could bring Bill, who would sit next to Gallowhur at dinner; afterward Bigelow could choose between them. "Give me a chance!" Gallowhur pleaded.

Bigelow agreed and brought Miller to Turtle Bay. After coffee had been served, Gallowhur took Bigelow aside. "Have you made your choice?" he inquired.

"Yes," said Bigelow. "It's Bill."

Bigelow and Miller had only one more week together before Bigelow had to go back to college. "We were so happy," Bigelow remembered. "I went back to school and he went back into the Coast Guard." The sailor wrote Bigelow a single letter: he said he was "dead" without him, and Bigelow believed that Miller was shipping out.

In November, Bigelow returned to New York for Thanksgiving. He was glum, thinking that Miller might have already perished at sea. In Manhattan, he stayed with George Hoyningen-Huene (1900-1968), a famous fashion photographer for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. Hoyningen-Huene had been born in St. Petersburg at the turn of the century, the son of a Baltic nobleman and the daughter of the American minister to the court of the czar.

The photographer was forty-two when Bigelow met him, and he kept himself fit with regular visits to the gym--a custom that would become almost universal among a certain class of gay men three decades later. After Bigelow had done some modeling for his host, Hoyningen-Huene tried to coax him into bed.

When Bigelow refused him, Hoyningen-Huene became furious, and started to shout: "You're doing all this moping around about that sailor Bill! Did you know that Bill has been living in Turtle Bay with George Gallowhur since about three days after you left?"

Bigelow was stunned. It was the "cruelest thing" he had ever experienced.

It was also his awakening." (Source: The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America by Charles Kaiser)

Otis Munro Bigelow III, the best-looking man in Manhattan in 1940, the one who had chosen a beautiful sailor over a suntanned millionaire, was a playwright and retired theatrical agent whose varied career in the performing arts included acting and dancing. He was born on June 2, 1920, in Exeter, NH. The only child of Otis M., who taught Romance languages at Phillips Exeter Academy, and Ruth Spalding Bigelow, he prepared for college at Phillips Exeter, where he took the lead in theatrical productions. As a teenager, "Ote" Bigelow had already performed in summer stock and looked forward to a stage career.

Orphaned in his youth and with an uncle, Robert W. Keyes of Utica, NY, as his guardian, he applied for entry to Hamilton in 1939 and was accepted. He soon became highly involved in lead roles in Charlatans productions and also as managing editor of the Continental and co-editor of Hamiltonews, for which he both wrote and drew illustrations. A member of the Publications Board and elected to the journalism honorary Pi Delta Epsilon, he also sang in the Choir and fenced for Coach Glas. Hailed by The Hamiltonian as "the seniors' most diversified artist," he was graduated in 1943. On the Hill, he had received acceptance and esteem, especially from his Theta Delta Chi fraternity brothers, "which fostered in me an everlasting gratitude and a self-esteem I had never known before."

Otis Bigelow gravitated to New York City, where he gradually came to terms with his homosexual orientation. He quickly became a prominent part of Manhattan's closeted and rarified gay society in the 1940s. During that period, he was among those interviewed by Alfred Kinsey for his pathbreaking research on Sexual Behavior in the American Male (1948). However, as a Reservist, he was soon called to active duty in the U.S. Navy and served as an officer aboard minesweepers in both the Atlantic and the Pacific theaters during World War II.

Released from the Navy as a lieutenant (j.g.) after two years in 1945, Otis Bigelow returned to New York City and resumed his acting career, making his Broadway debut as the sailor in Dear Ruth. Years of extensive touring in summer and winter stock followed, interrupted in 1941 by a year-long stint at Warner Brothers in Hollywood as an actor and screenwriter, an experience he did not particularly enjoy. In 1948, he took a year off and went to Paris "to get my mind straightened after Hollywood," and there took on odd jobs in French films, from acting to translating and devising English subtitles.

After returning to Manhattan, Otis Bigelow concentrated on writing, and almost starved doing so. But after a half-dozen ballet lessons, he was hired as a dancer for the Broadway production of The King and I and spent the next 2 years in its cast as a "Siamese slave." In 1953, he quit the hit show to go on a barnstorming tour with a dance group, Musical Americana, which covered 33 states and 25,000 miles in four months. After a summer dancing with the Jos Limon Co., he went back to "Oriental" makeup as a cast member touring with The Teahouse of the August Moon. He also subsequently toured in a production of Auntie Mame.

Thereafter, Otis Bigelow switched from performance to stage management, off-Broadway and in summer theater. Among the productions he stage managed were Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band (1968) and those of the Williamstown Summer Theater and the Bucks County Playhouse. He also wrote plays, three of which, The Giant's Dance, The Peacock Season, and The Prevalence of Mrs. Seal, were produced off-Broadway and have since been published. He was in the theatrical agency business for 15 years until his retirement in 1984. "Enjoying life on Social Security" while residing quietly and happily with his longtime companion in a rent-stabilized midtown-Manhattan apartment, he still dabbled at writing when not traveling. For many years he maintained a summer house on Fire Island and also enjoyed trips almost every year to France, where he liked to wander through Paris and the countryside on his moped. Along the way he would scour the shops and flea markets for Art Nouveau glass and fin-de-sicle posters to add to his collection.

Otis M. Bigelow died on October 6, 2007, as reported in the classified obituary section of The New York Times. He is survived by Thierry Mahe, his life partner of more than 50 years. (http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/BIGELOW/2010-07/1278979163)

Monroe Wheeler and Glenway Wescott’s friends included a number of younger lovers. One, Christian William Miller, or Bill Miller (August 7, 1921 - 1995), had been one of the most strikingly beautiful of George Platt Lynes’s models. Miller was a lover of Wheeler’s and a family friend for many years. A later Wheeler intimate, Ralph Pomeroy, remembered, "Bill would go to a gallery and all the women and all the men would faint!" Wescott’s young friend Bernard Perlin said, "Bill Miller was ga-ga-gorgeous!" (Glenway Wescott Personally: A Biography by Jerry Rosco)









Christian William Miller was born William Henry Miller on August 7, 1921, in Newark, New Jersey. Miller attended the Franklin School of Professional Arts in New York City from 1938-1941, majoring in advertising design. From 1939-1941 he began his career in design with stints at Datzenbach & Warren, Brunschwig & Fils, and Lord & Taylor. During the years 1942-1946, Miller was enlisted in the United States Maritime Service Coast Guard Reserve. He was assigned to a research project in 1942 by the Air-Sea Agency, helping to design a device to make sea water drinkable. Miller also designed an inflatable chair that is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York (please notice that the chair was manufactured by Gallowhur Chemical Corp., that same George Gallowhur who was first Otis Bigelow's lover and then Bill Miller). In May 1951, Miller officially changed his name to Christian William Miller.


William H. Miller, Chair. c.1944, Vinylite (polyvinyl chloride) tube ring, plywood frame, aluminum legs, and string netting. 28 x 29-1/2 x 31-1/2”, Manufactured by Gallowhur Chemical Corp., The Museum of Modern Art. Gift of the Manufacturer.

Miller was known in the 1940's New York gay social scene as being one of the most beautiful men in the world. This status
made him the acquaintance, companion, and occasional model and muse of such luminaries as George Platt Lynes, Paul
Cadmus, W. H. Auden, Somerset Maugham, Alfred Kinsey, Glenway Wescott, Monroe Wheeler, Noel Coward, Philip
Wheelwright, and George Hoyningen-Huene. As an avid photographer himself, he extensively documented his social life
and travels around the world. Miller died on July 5, 1995.

The Papers at the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, include correspondence, appointment books, and other materials documenting the personal life of Christian William (aka Bill) Miller. The collection dates from 1943 to 1995, with the bulk dating from the early 1940s through the 1960s, during which time Miller lived in New York City. There are letters from Herbert Bayer, Paul Cadmus, Noel Coward, Katherine Dreier, Alfred C. Kinsey and the Alfred C. Kinsey Institute for Sex Research, the Museum of Modern Art, Cesare Pavani, a stage director for filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni, Hershel Carey Walker, Glenway Wescott, Monroe Wheeler, and others. Correspondence with Walker, the largest file with over 200 items, dates from 1948 to 1971 and includes incoming and outgoing correspondence. Letters from Cadmus span over fifty years, from 1943 to 1995, and include original drawings. Correspondence with Alfred C. Kinsey and other members of the Institute for Sex Research, which includes carbons of outgoing letters, discuss Kinsey’s research project on human sexuality, Miller’s participation in the project, his sexuality and sexual behavior, recommendations of others who might be interested in the project, and gifts to the institute.

Appointment books document activities between 1944 to 1969 and mention Paul Cadmus, Hershel Carey Walker, Glenway Wescott, and Monroe Wheeler, as well as W. H. Auden, Cecil Beaton, Christopher Isherwood, Stephen Spender, Gore Vidal, and others. The books serve as diaries, and include entries on sexual activities using the Kinsey institute codes. Other materials include drafts of writings, financial records, photographs, and clippings and printed ephemera. There are three holograph manuscripts by Jean Genet, entitled "Boule de Neige", "L’Enfant Soleil", and "Solennel Enfant Soleil." Photographs include Miller, Glenway Wescott, Monroe Wheeler, Hershel Carey Walker, and others.

Papers are also held at ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives in California. The collection comprises the photographs, papers, and artwork created, inspired, or collected by Christian William Miller, 1886-1989. As an avid photographer and model, Miller moved through the New York gay social scene of the 1940s and 1950s, interacting with noted gay artists. The bulk of the collection consists of photographs documenting this social life as well as his travels, activities, family, and friends.

Richard Barr (6 September 1917 – 9 January 1989) was an award-winning American theater director and producer. He served as the president of the League of American Theatres and Producers from 1967 until his death.

Richard Barr was born on 6 September 1917 in Washington, D.C. under the name Richard Baer to parents David Alphonse Baer and Ruth Nanette Israel. In 1938, he graduated from Princeton University, where he had acted in various plays. From 1941 through 1945, Barr served as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force in World War II. He died of AIDS-related liver failure at Mount Sinai Hospital on 9 January 1989.

Richard Barr began his theatrical career as an actor in the company of Orson Welles at the Mercury Theatre. His first professional appearance came there in a production of Danton's Death in 1938. Later that year, he took part in the infamous radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. Other than a brief stint of variety theatre at the Provincetown Playhouse in 1940, Barr remained with the company until he left for the war in 1941. After the war, Barr became an accomplished director and producer. In 1961, he won his first drama desk award. His 1962 original Broadway production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? earned him two Tony Awards: Best Play and Best Producer (dramatic). His 1979 original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street earned him the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical and the Tony Award for Best Musical. In 1967 Barr was elected president of what was then known as the League of American Theatres and Producers, an office he would hold until his death in 1989. As president he shifted Broadway's curtain times from 8:30 PM to 7:30 PM in an effort to bring in more businessmen during the weeknights. The experiment was considered a success, though curtain times were later shifted to 8:00 PM, where they have remained to this day.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Barr
In 1938, Otis Bigelow, later a playwright and theatrical agent, while performing summer stock in Rye Beach, New Hampshire, met Gordon Merrick, an actor who had just graduated from Princeton. Bigelow and Merrick used to kiss, but nothing more. Although they shared an apartment when they reached New York, Bigelow was still planning to marry a woman. And quite quickly Gordon decided that he was "very into not being gay," Bigelow recalled.
Three decades later, Merrick wrote The Lord Won't Mind, one of the first gay novels to become a best-seller in the seventies, and he modeled one of its beautiful young men after Bigelow. The other man sharing their apartment was Richard Barr, another Princeton graduate who went to work for the Mercury Theatre that fall and partecipated in Orson Welles's menacing broadcast of The War of the Worlds. Later, Barr became one of the Broadway's most illustrious impresarios. He was Edward Albee's confidant and produced many of Albee's most important plays, including The Zoo Story, Tiny Alice and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He coproduced Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band in 1968, and, eleven years later, Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. For twenty-one years, he was president of the League of American Theatres and Producers. --The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America by Charles Kaiser


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
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time

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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