elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
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elisa_rolle

Oreste Pucciani & Rudi Gernreich

Oreste Francesco Pucciani was born in Cleveland on April 7, 1916, the son of a candy manufacturer. He attended the Cleveland public schools and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Adelbert College, Western Reserve University (now Case Western University) in 1939. He took his doctorate in Romance languages from Harvard in 1943. In 1946-47, Pucciani studied in France and Italy on a Sheldon Traveling Fellowship, meeting Sartre and his companion Simone de Beauvoir. Returning to the United States in 1947, Pucciani lectured at Harvard, before joining the faculty of the University of California Los Angeles as an Assistant Professor of French in 1948. He was became an Associate Professor in 1954, and a full Professor in 1960. He was chairman of the French department from 1961 to 1966, and became emeritus in 1979. (P: The Original Mattanite Society)

Pucciani's scholarly interests were diverse. His doctoral dissertation was devoted to the reception of Walt Whitman in France. The French Theater since 1930 (1954) remains a useful anthology of French theater in the years between the world wars. He also published a well regarded translation of Racine's masterpiece Phédre in 1961. But Pucciani is best known as an interpreter of the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, and pioneered in teaching courses on Sartre at UCLA before the philosopher's works were translated into English.

In addition to his work on Sartre, Pucciani was well known as a theorist on methods of language acquisition. He had studied with Emile B. de Sauzé at Western Reserve in the 1930s, and was an ardent champion of Sauzé's "direct method" of language teaching, in which all instruction, including explanations of grammar and vocabulary, is given in the target language. In the late 1950s, Pucciani pioneered in adapting the direct method (still little known outside the Cleveland public schools) to the UCLA French Department's language program. The highly successful and influential textbook, Langue et Langage, published by Pucciani and Jacqueline Hamel in 1967, described the department's experience with the direct method, and revealed the advantages of immediate and total immersion in a foreign tongue.


Rudi Gernreich was an Austrian-born American fashion designer who introduced the monokini in 1964. Gernreich met Harry Hay in July 1950, and the two became lovers for 2 years. In 1953, Gernreich met Oreste Pucciani, chairman of the UCLA French department, who was a key figure in bringing Jean-Paul Sartre to the attention of American educators. In 1988, after Gernreich's death, Pucciani established the ACLU Rudi Gernreich-Oreste Pucciani Endowment Fund to support the fight for GLBT rights.

For his services to French language and culture, Pucciani was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Legion of Honor by the French government in 1965.

Pucciani was the long-time lover of fashion designer Rudi Gernreich. In 1988, after Gernreich's death, he established the ACLU Rudi Gernreich-Oreste Pucciani Endowment Fund to support the fight for GLBT rights.

He died in Los Angeles on April 28, 1999.

Source: http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt1n39r3q8/

Rudi Gernreich (August 8, 1922 – April 21, 1985) was an Austrian-born American fashion designer who introduced the single-piece topless monokini in 1964, and had a long, unconventional, and trend-setting career in fashion design. He was also an early gay activist who helped fund the early activities of the Mattachine Society.

Gernreich was born in Vienna, Austria. His father was a stocking manufacturer who committed suicide when Gernreich was eight years old. Gernreich learned about feminine fashion in his aunt’s dress shop.

After the German Anschluss (when Nazi Germany annexed Austria) on March 12, 1938, Hitler, among many other acts, banned nudity. Austrian citizens were advocates of exercising nude, a rejection of the over-civilized world, which may have influenced Gernreich's later designs. His mother and Rudi escaped to the United States as Jewish refugees, settling in Los Angeles, California. Gernreich was very much against sexualization of the human body and the notion that the body was essentially shameful. 

Initially, his mother survived by baking pastries that Rudi sold door-to-door. His first job was washing bodies before autopsy at the morgue of Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. He told Marylou Luther, “I grew up overnight. I do smile sometimes when people tell me my clothes are so body-conscious [that] I must have studied anatomy. You bet I studied anatomy.” He attended Los Angeles City College, where he studied art and apprenticed for a Seventh Avenue clothing manufacturer. He attended the Los Angeles Art Center School from 1941 to 1942.


William Claxton. Peggy Moffitt modeling Gernreich's monokini was initially published in Womens Wear Daily on June 4, 1962.

Gernreich met Harry Hay in July 1950, and the two became lovers. Hay showed Gernreich "The Call", a document outlining his plan for a gay support organization, which Gernreich declared the document as "the most dangerous thing [he had] ever read". In 1951 Gernreich was convicted in a homosexual entrapment case. He was an enthusiastic financial supporter of the venture, though he did not lend his name to it, preferring to be known by the initial "R". Gernreich ended the relationship with Hay in 1952.

In 1953, Gernreich met Oreste Pucciani, chairman of the UCLA French department, who was a key figure in bringing Jean-Paul Sartre to the attention of American educators. Oreste Pucciani was also a pivotal figure in the gay rights movement. The two men kept their relationship private as Gernreich believed public acknowledgment of his homosexuality would negatively affect his fashion business.

Gernreich died in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 62 from lung cancer.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudi_Gernreich

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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Tags: activist: oreste pucciani, days of love, lgbt designers
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