Haines was probably born on January 2, 1900 in Staunton, Virginia, the third child of George Adam Haines, a cigar maker, and Laura Virginia Haines (née Matthews). Two older siblings died in infancy. He had four younger siblings: Lillian, born in 1902; Ann, born in 1907; George, Jr., born in 1908; and Henry, born in 1917. He was baptized at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Staunton at the age of eight, where he later sang in the choir. He became fascinated with stage performance and motion pictures at an early age, spending hours watching early silent films in the local theatres.
Haines ran away from home at the age of 14, accompanied by another unidentified young man whom Haines referred to as his "boyfriend". The pair went first to Richmond and then to Hopewell, which had a reputation for immorality. Haines and his boyfriend got jobs working at the local DuPont factory, producing nitrocellulose for $50 a week. To supplement their income, the couple opened a dance hall, which may have also served as a brothel.
His parents, frantic over his disappearance, tracked him through the police to Hopewell. Haines did not return home with them, remaining instead in Hopewell and sending money back home to help support the family. The couple remained in Hopewell until most of the town was destroyed by fire in 1915. Haines moved to New York City. It is unclear whether his boyfriend accompanied him. Following the bankruptcy of the family business and the mental breakdown of George, Sr., the family moved to Richmond in 1916. Haines returned home in 1917 to help support them. With his father recovered and employed, Haines returned to New York City in 1919, settling into the burgeoning gay community of Greenwich Village. He worked a variety of jobs and was for a time the kept man of an older woman before becoming a model. Talent scout Bijou Fernandez discovered Haines as part of the Samuel Goldwyn Company's "New Faces of 1922" contest and the studio signed him to a $40 a week contract. He traveled to Hollywood with fellow contest winner Eleanor Boardman in March of that year.
Edith Gwynne Wilkerson (wife of Trocadero owner Billy Wilkerson), Jean Harlow, William Powell, William Haines' lover Jimmy Shields (standing), Anderson Lawler, unidentified man (standing), William Haines, Edith's sister Marge (bottom), Cafe Trocadero, 1935 (©2)
William Haines was a film actor and interior designer. In New York in 1926, Haines met Jimmie Shields, probably a pick-up on the street. Haines convinced Shields to move to Los Angeles. In 1933 Haines was asked to choose between a sham marriage and Shields. Haines chose Shields and they remained together for the rest of their lives. Soon after Haines died, Shields, who suffered from Alzheimer's Disease, put on Haines' pajamas, took an overdose of pills, and crawled into their bed to die.
Jimmie Shields & William Haines were interred side by side in Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery. William Haines died from lung cancer; soon afterward Jimmie Shields, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, put on Haines' pajamas, took an overdose of pills, and crawled into their bed to die.
George Cukor’s Beverly Hills residence in 1935. “The house suits me perfectly, and I know that I belong here,” said Cukor. “That’s his skill and his talent.” Dark walls and velvet draperies added drama to the Georgian-inspired dining room.
Haines's career began slowly, as he appeared in extra and bit parts, mostly uncredited. His first significant role was in Three Wise Fools (1923). He attracted positive critical attention and the studio began building him up as a new star. However, he continued to play small, unimportant parts at Goldwyn. It was not until his home studio loaned him to Fox in 1923 for The Desert Outlaw that he got the opportunity to play a significant role. In 1924, MGM lent Haines to Columbia Pictures for a five-picture deal. The first of these, The Midnight Express (1924), received excellent reviews and Columbia offered to buy his contract. The offer was refused and Haines continued in bit roles for Goldwyn. Haines scored his first big personal success with Brown of Harvard (1926) opposite Jack Pickford and Mary Brian. It was in Brown that he crystallized his screen image, a young arrogant man who is humbled by the last reel. It was a formula to which he was repeatedly returned for the next several years.
On a trip to New York in 1926, Haines met James "Jimmie" Shields, probably as a pick-up on the street. Haines convinced Shields to move to Los Angeles, promising to get him work as an extra. The pair were soon living together and viewed themselves as a committed couple.
Haines's string of hits continued with Little Annie Rooney (1925) with Mary Pickford and Vola Vale, and Show People (1928), costarring Marion Davies. Haines was a top-five box office star from 1928 to 1932. He made a successful transition into talking pictures in the part-talkie Alias Jimmy Valentine (1928). His first all-talkie, Navy Blues, was released the following year. He starred in Way Out West in 1930. The 1930 Quigley Poll, a survey of film exhibitors, listed Haines as the top box office attraction in the country.
In 1933, Haines was arrested in a YMCA with a sailor he had picked up in Los Angeles' Pershing Square. Louis B. Mayer, the studio head at MGM, delivered an ultimatum to Haines: choose between a sham marriage (also known as a "lavender marriage") or his relationship with Shields. Haines chose Shields and they remained together for almost 50 years. Mayer subsequently fired Haines and terminated his contract, quickly recasting Robert Montgomery in roles that had been planned for Haines. Haines did make a few minor films at Poverty Row studios, then retired from film. His final films were made with Mascot Pictures, Young and Beautiful and The Marines Are Coming in 1934. He was blackballed in Hollywood, having had his name placed in the Doom Book.
Haines and Shields began a successful dual career as interior designers and antique dealers. Among their early clients were friends such as Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson, Carole Lombard, Marion Davies and George Cukor. Their lives were disrupted in 1936 when members of the Ku Klux Klan dragged the two men from their home and beat them, because a neighbor had accused the two of propositioning his son. Crawford, along with other stars such as Claudette Colbert, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Kay Francis, and Charles Boyer urged the men to report this to the police. Marion Davies asked her lover William Randolph Hearst to use his influence to ensure the neighbors were prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but ultimately Haines and Shields chose not to report the incident.
The couple finally settled into the Hollywood community in Brentwood, and their business prospered until their retirement in the early 1970s, except for a brief interruption when Haines served in World War II. Their long list of clients included Betsy Bloomingdale, Ronald and Nancy Reagan when Reagan was governor of California, and Walter and Leonore Annenberg with their 240-acre (0.97 km2) estate "Sunnylands."
Haines never returned to film. Gloria Swanson, another lifelong friend, extended him a personal invitation to appear with her in the film Sunset Boulevard (1950), but he declined.
Haines and Shields remained together for the rest of their lives. Joan Crawford described them as "the happiest married couple in Hollywood."
Haines died from lung cancer in Santa Monica, California at the age of 73, a week short of his 74th birthday, which was on the new year of 1974. Soon afterward, Shields, who suffered from what many believe to be Alzheimer's Disease, put on Haines' pajamas, took an overdose of pills, and crawled into their bed to die. They were interred side by side in Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery.
William Haines Designs remains in operation, with main offices in West Hollywood and showrooms in New York, Denver and Dallas. Haines's life story is told in the 1998 biography Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines, Hollywood's First Openly Gay Star by William J. Mann, and his designs are the subject of Peter Schifando and Haines associate Jean H. Mathison's 2005 book Class Act: William Haines Legendary Hollywood Decorator. World of Wonder produced Out of the Closet, Off the Screen: The Life of William Haines, which aired on HBO in 2001. Haines has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7012 Hollywood Boulevard.
Pennsylvania house of Ambassador Walter Annenberg and his wife, Lee
Winfield House, the U.S. Embassy residence in London. “It was exquisite,” Haines said of the 100-year-old hand-painted Chinese wallcovering he used on the garden room’s walls.
Richard Wallaces' bedroom
Constance Bennett's sitting room
George Cukor's living room
Sam Jaffe's entrance hall
Bel Air Sofa, 1951
Faux Bamboo Desk, 1959
Conversation Table, 1951
Elbow Chair, 1945
Pluto Pendant Lamp, 1950
Iron Coffee Table, 1953
Drum Chair in Red
The Valentine Sofa
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)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
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
This journal is friends only. This entry was originally posted at http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/1395339.html. If you are not friends on this journal, Please comment there using OpenID.