Here’s a little light reading I put together, featuring some great entertainers whose sexuality never seemed quite certain to many. Their talents have provided us with lots of joy, whether or not they were . . . you know . . .
Dom Deluise —Nope, straight.
In 1965, Dom married his wife Carol and remained quite happily together until his death. They had three sons; I can only imagine the laughter in that home!
Dom made a name for himself as a comedic actor. He’s perhaps best known for his appearances in the Cannonball Run movies and for voicing animated characters in the American Tale and All Dogs Go To Heaven franchises. He was very close friends with actor Burt Reynolds and director Mel Brooks who said of him:
“. . . he created so much joy and laughter on the set that you couldn’t get your work done. So every time I made a movie with Dom, I would plan another two days on the schedule just for laughter”
Here’s Dom and Orson Welles recreating an old Marty Feldman skit:
Little Richard — Wooooooooooooooooooo! Shut up!
Here he is at Muhammad Ali’s 50th Birthday Celebration:
Little Richard makes me happy and makes me sad . . . the man’s been a musical legend for longer than I’ve been alive . . . hell, almost longer that my parents have! With an ego the size of a star-system, Richard once gave Jimi Hendrix a dressing down for upstaging him at a concert by playing the guitar with his teeth.
A spiritual man from a very religious family, Richard seemed so much happier when he was out and gay. Now . . . it seems he’s hedging his bets out of fear of what the Almighty might have in store for him. Tisk tisk. This article gives the reaction from Black Twitter that I, as a salty Zesta cracker, probably should not — even if I agree wholeheartedly. (The Ike Turner simile had me in stitches.)
Below is a news bit featuring part of an interview he gave last year sans makeup and wig. The full interview is too sad, disappointing, and potentially damaging for me to post so I’ll leave those interested to Google. You be the judge:
Victor Buono — Bingo! Certified Queer™!
Nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for his supporting role as Edwin Flagg in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Buono was a magnificent comic and character actor. He’s easily recognizable as TV Villain King Tut from the ’60s era Batman show and many other guest-starring roles playing characters much older than he was.
Young Victor’s grandmother, who had been a vaudevillian performer, taught her grandson many songs and works for the stage, encouraging him to perform for family and guests. As an actor, he remained in great demand from his teenage years until his untimely death of a heart attack at age 43.
Victor, unusually for the time, lived rather openly with his male lovers and was known to be quite a playboy. He’s quoted as saying:
“I’ve heard or read about actors being asked the immortal question, ‘Why have you never married?’ They answer with the immortal excuse, ‘I just haven’t found the right girl.’ Because I’m on the hefty side, no one’s asked me yet. If they do, that’s the answer I’ll give. After all, if it was good enough for Monty Clift or Sal Mineo…” — Victor Buono
Victor read some of his hilarious original poetry on Johnny Carson’s Tonight show and shared a touching poem about a grandmother while chatting on the sofa.
Last year’s Feud, a mini-series dramatizing the Hollywood rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, explores Buono’s sexuality. In one scene, Victor is caught giving another man head, arrested, and promptly phones his pal Bette Davis to bail him out. While this episode is mostly fictional, it would’ve been quite typical of the man as well as the times he lived in.
Victor was something of a trailblazer for Gay men and well loved by all who worked with him. Charming, intelligent, compassionate, and kind, he’s one entertainer that folks ought to know a little more about and a fellow we can be proud of.
Here is Victor reading his own Skinny Poems for Fat Lovers: