The Golden Age of Hollywood reminds us of a time where the actors were glamorous, their careers illustrious, and their legacies undying. For many of us, the stars that ruled the silver screen are a source of complete fascination. From Marilyn Monroe to James Dean, these individuals are simply iconic.
While some of them had demons that were known to the public, others were trying to keep a lid on their private lives that had the potential to destroy their careers. During a time when you could get arrested for homosexuality, these A-listers were having to keep their preferences firmly under wraps — often to the detriment of their mental health.With a wife and two kids, actor Anthony Perkins had a picture-perfect life, but he was hiding a big secret.
Katharine Hepburn’s Relationship With Spencer Tracy Was Just A Front
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Known for her impeccable talent as well as her androgynous appeal, Katharine Hepburn was an institution. The actress won four Academy Awards over her 60-year long career, and supposedly had a 25-year relationship with fellow actor Spencer Tracy. However, it may have been a ruse.
Screenwriter and gay rights activist Larry Kramer claimed that the relationship was just friendship that benefited them both, stating: “Hepburn and Spencer Tracy were both gay. They were publicly paired together by the studio.” Another Hollywood name, Scotty Bowers, claims that he set the actress up with over 150 women over the course of 50 years.
Did James Dean Go Both Ways?
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James Dean is one of the most iconic stars of his era, despite having a relatively short career. With a bad-boy persona, cheekbones sharp enough to cut you, and a mop of golden hair, he was a pin-up for the ages — but rumors swirled about his sexuality.
Before Dean dated lots of women before he died tragically at the age of 24, some of whom claim he was very passionate. But following his death, his close friend Jonathan Gilmore wrote a book disclosing a sexual relationship he had with Dean. It’s not the only claim, either. In James Dean: Tomorrow Never Comes, authors Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince assert that he was involved in “kinky sadomasochistic sex” with fellow actor Marlon Brando.
Marilyn Monroe Had An Affair With Joan Crawford
Like James Dean, Marilyn Monroe will be forever remembered as a striking beauty, sex symbol, and talent who was taken far too soon. Although Marilyn passed away at just 36, she had already been married three times. According to one of Marilyn’s last therapists, Dr. Ralph Greenson, Marilyn admitted to affairs with some high profile women, including Joan Crawford.
In taped transcripts of the sessions, Marilyn says, “Oh yes, Crawford. We went to Joan’s bedroom. Crawford had a gigantic orgasm and shrieked like a maniac. Next time I saw Crawford she wanted another round…After I turned her down, she became spiteful.”
While some hid their secrets, Marlo Brando didn’t care what anyone thought.
Marlon Brando Didn’t Care What People Thought
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Marlon Brando is widely regarded as one of the greatest actors to have ever lived. In his first major film role, he portrayed Stan, the brute husband that torments his sister-in-law in A Streetcar Named Desire. All brooding looks, muscles, and intensity, Brando openly admitted he’d had homosexual experiences in his life.
Apart from alleged affairs with James Dean, Brando’s biography claims that he also had dalliances with Cary Grant, Montgomery Clift, Sir John Gielgud and even Bob Dylan. In a 1976 interview, the actor said, “Homosexuality is so much in fashion, it no longer makes news. I have had homosexual experiences, and I’m not ashamed. I’ve never paid much attention to what people think about me.”
Greta Garbo Was Linked To Marlene Dietrich
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Greta Garbo was one of the first screen icons ever to exist, working in the ’20s and ’30s. The Swedish-born actress was notoriously private about her life and quit acting at just 35. The next 50 years of her life were spent alone, unmarried and without children, in isolation.
Rumors abounded about her private life, and she was linked to many famous actresses, most notably Marlene Dietrich. The pair supposedly met when they were both in their early 20s, but Dietrich wasn’t interested in a relationship, just a physical affair. Poor Greta was so hurt she denied knowing her. She apparently called her affairs “exciting secrets.”
Anthony Perkins Dabbled In Extramarital Affairs With Men
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Best known for his role as the chilling killer Norman Bates in the Psycho films, Anthony Perkins was a supposed family man, married with two kids. While they looked like the perfect family, Perkins dabbled in extramarital affairs with men.
Perkins dated many, but his longest gay relationship was with actor Tab Hunter. The two would often go on movie dates but would purchase their tickets separately and sit in different rows to not draw attention to themselves. Perkins remained married to his wife but died of AIDS in 1992 at 60 years old.
Rock Hudson’s wife hired a private investigator to validate her suspicions.
Rock Hudson’s Wife Outed Him
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While Hollywood insiders knew Rock Hudson’s sexuality, it wasn’t revealed to the world until he succumbed to AIDS in 1985 at 59 years old. Until then, he had managed to keep his private life private. The actor was married for three years to Phyllis Gates, but it was Gates who originally confronted him about his preferences, hiring a private eye to follow him.
She referenced his “great speed” in the bedroom and asked if he was the same way when he was with men. In tapes acquired by the media, Hudson, then 32, gave a brash response. Phyllis accused her husband of picking boys up off of the street, telling him everyone knew.
Montgomery Clift Dated Men And Women
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Like most famous actors of his time, Montgomery Clift was enigmatic and painfully good looking. The ’50s heartthrob enjoyed a successful career and was every bit as successful with the ladies and gents.
Singin’ in the Rain actress Debbie Reynolds spoke of Clift in her memoir, recalling his relationship with legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor. “They laughed and giggled while making out in front of us all. Even though Monty had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, it was obvious that he and Elizabeth had been intimate.” Sadly the actor was in a terrible car accident that disfigured his face, causing him to turn to alcohol. He died of a heart attack at 45 years old.
See which Goldern era actress was dubbed Hollywood’s biggest closeted lesbian soon.
Clark Gable Was “Gay For Pay”
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There are fewer names more recognizable than the one and only Clark Gable, once dubbed The King of Hollywood. Gable loved the ladies and married five times, but he was no stranger to homosexuality either. Rumors circulated in Hollywood that the star used all of his charms to get to the top in showbiz.
In David Bret’s biography of the star, he claims that Gable was “gay for pay” and enjoyed having sex for money. The actor’s past sometimes landed him in awkward situations as he didn’t want it getting out. Some say it was this that caused the firing of George Cukor from Gone with the Wind.
Barbara Stanwyck Was Dubbed “Hollywood’s Biggest Closeted Lesbian”
Barbara Stanwyck worked the Hollywood hustle harder than anyone else. Over 60 years, the honorary-Oscar winner starred in almost 90 movies. The New York beauty was married twice, but there has always been speculation that both marriages were smokescreens, planned by studios to hide her sexuality.
Actor Clifton Webb has dubbed Stanwyck “My favorite Hollywood lesbian,” while her second husband Robert told another actress that Barbara was a lesbian and they didn’t share a bed together. Her biographer even remarked, “people would swear she was Hollywood’s biggest closeted lesbian.” Like many others in her position, Barbara never publicly addressed the rumors.
Carey Grant And Randolph Scott Were More Than “Roommates”
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It might seem unlikely, considering Carey Grant was one of the most notorious lotharios around. Grant was married five times and had one daughter, but he allegedly had relationships with at least two men. Both Grant and actor Randolph Scott were ‘roommates’ for 12 years, living in a mansion nicknamed Bachelor Hall.
While we don’t know anything for sure, in a documentary about costume designer Orry-Kelly, it’s revealed that the Australian met Archie Leach (aka Carey Grant) before he made it big in 1925. According to the film, the pair were lovers for nine years before Grant realized he had to cover up his sexuality to hit the top as an actor.
Joan Crawford Leveraged Her Sexual Prowess
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There are fewer screen sirens as prominent as Joan Crawford, who left a lasting effect on the industry. The beauty was adored by men and women alike and was well-known to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh. In her time, people had their suspicions but it was never proven.
In David Bret’s biography on Crawford, he suggests that she used her sexual prowess to further her career, while EJ Fleming claims in his book that MGM paid $100,000 to put a stop to the release of a lesbian pornographic film starring Crawford before she got famous. We’ll never know for sure, but throw Marilyn Monroe’s confessions into the mix and it’s highly probable.
Raymond Burr And Robert Benevides Were More Than Business Partners
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Raymond Burr was best known for his role as defense attorney Perry Mason, as well as his portrayal of a disabled detective in Ironside. Although the actor married Isabella Ward in the ’40s, the marriage didn’t last long.
In the ’60s, Burr met another actor that caught his eye. This time it was Robert Benevides. The pair were a known couple to those around them, but Robert was officially listed as Burr’s business partner, buying and selling land together in the ’80s. When Raymond passed away in 1993, he left his entire estate to the young actor who remained his partner for over 40 years. Robert sold Raymond Burr Vineyards in 2017.
Did Richard Pryor Have An Affair With Marlon Brando?
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Late comedian Richard Pryor managed to keep his private life relatively private up until his widow Jennifer released a shocking statement to gossip site TMZ in early 2018, detailing her husband’s affair with Marlon Brando in the ’70s.
“It was the ’70s! Drugs were still good, especially quaaludes. If you did enough cocaine, you’d [expletive] a radiator and send it flowers in the morning,” she wrote. Famed music mogul Quincy Jones had also mentioned the coupling in an interview, explaining that Brando would “[expletive] James Baldwin, Richard Pryor, Marvin Gaye.” Pryor’s daughter from a previous marriage vehemently rebuked the claims.
Spencer Tracy’s Smokescreen Relationships
Spencer Tracy enjoyed a lustrous 40-year career in the Golden Age of Hollywood. While Tracy did marry and had two kids, he became estranged from his wife, Louise. They never divorced, which he blamed on his Catholic background.
Like many male stars, Tracy had a reputation for boozing and women, with several high profile romances under his belt — most notably with Katharine Hepburn. However, Tracy stayed at openly gay George Cukor’s house for weeks on end, supposedly getting down and dirty with the director’s young male friends. It’s also rumored that his relationship with Katharine was just a smokescreen and was never consummated.
Tab Hunter Had A Long-Term Relationship With Anthony Perkins
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86-year-old Tab Hunter had a great run in the ’50s and ’60s with films like The Lawless and Island of Desire, starring opposite Linda Darnell. Hunter was arrested at a gay party in 1950, but it was kept under wraps. In 1955, his agent leaked the information to dissuade the tabloids from running a story about Rock Hudson.
The media was elated with the information, having never responded well to Hunter. When Natalie Wood and Tab became an “item” for a short while, headlines read “Natalie Wood, Tab Wouldn’t.” Despite this he was still popular, enjoying a good career. He had a long-term dalliance with Anthony Perkins and told all in his 2005 memoir, Tab Hunter Confidential.
Scotty Bowers Reveals Vincent Price Was Gay
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Vincent Price had a very distinctive voice and was well known for his creepy and brilliant performances in horror movies. While he was an undoubtedly an amazing actor, he also had a colorful private life. The star was married three times, to Edith Barrett, Mary Grant, and Coral Browne.
Known as “Vinny” to Scotty Bowers the notorious pimp, Price was a newlywed when they met, but Bowers insisted “Vinny was decidedly gay and the marriage would not last. I tricked Vinny for years. [Expletive] with him was pleasant, unhurried, gentle… high-class stuff all the way.” His daughter Victoria stated she was “As close to certain as can be that he had physically intimate relationships with men.”
Up next: the star who dubbed herself “ambisextrous.”
Tallulah Bankhead Dubbed Herself “Ambisextrous”
Tallulah Bankhead was at the peak of her career in the ’40s, but very forward thinking. When the Kinsey Reports were published — books detailing sexual behaviors — the actress claimed they were “Old hat. I’ve had many momentary love affairs.”
According to several sources, the starlet liked men as well as women, having romances with some of the leading ladies of the day. Greta Garbo and Billie Holiday were both in Bankhead’s little black book. Humorously she used to dub herself “ambisextrous.” Tallulah was ahead of the curve when it came to female empowerment. What a queen.
Marlene Dietrich And The “Sewing Circle”
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Marlene Dietrich was a law unto herself. “I am at heart a gentleman,” she said of her being. The prominent star often went against the grain of what was expected of the typical Hollywood actress, wearing tuxedos and boxing for fun.
There’s no doubting that she had a slew of male lovers, including Gary Cooper and James Stewart, but she also had affairs with Greto Garbo and possibly Claudette Colbert. It wasn’t a good career move to be openly gay at that time in Hollywood, so Dietrich kept her sexual preferences to herself, becoming part of the secret society of LGBT elite which she called her “sewing circle.”
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Ramon Novarro starred alongside Great Garbo in 1931’s Mata Hari. His exotic Latin image was adored by the ladies, making him a money magnet for MGM. MGM’s Louis B. Mayer supposedly pressured the actor to get married, but Novarro refused, preferring the company of men.
Unfortunately, it had an impact on his career which peaked soon after Mata Hari. During his life, he was involved with journalist Herbert Howe as well as a wealthy businessman, Noel Sullivan. The actor met a grisly end at the age of 69 when he was beaten to death by two male prostitutes who tried to extort him for money.