Last week, both Odd Future singer Frank Ocean and longtime glass closet denizen Anderson Cooper both came out of the closet. In the few months before that, we saw both stripper-with-a-body-of-gold Matthew Bomer and Big Bang Theory übernerd Jim Parsons make the declaration too. At this rate, everyone in Hollywood will be openly gay by 2015! But who was the first celebrity to come out of the closet?
Despite what you might think, it wasn't Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, or even fitness guru Richard Simmons (who, to my knowledge, has never professed his love for anything other than aerobics and short shorts). It was an actor named Billy Haines.
But Haines didn't get his People magazine cover — the actor lived in the 1920s as a silent film star who was a huge box office draw, thanks to films like The Midnight Express, Little Annie Rooney, and Navy Blues. His luck only continued in 1926, when he met his life-long partner Jimmy Shields in New York before the couple moved in together in Los Angeles. While their partnership was well known in Tinsel Town, it was still a secret to the public.
That all changed in 1933, when Haines was arrested in a YMCA after getting frisky with a sailor (only four decades before the Village People!) and his sexual orientation became public. Louis B. Mayer, the infamous head of MGM studio which had Haines under contract, demanded that Haines marry a woman and denounce being a homosexual in the press. Haines, however, refused in order to stay with Shields, and because of his respectable pride, the actor's contract was canceled.
Haines never worked as an actor again. Instead, he became an interior decorator for stars like Joan Crawford, making him the envy of every gay decorator that has ever lived (and there have been a few).
As it turns out, the actor was well ahead of his time. It wasn't until the '60s when stars would come out again — and, when they did, the discovery was hardly met with celebration. Tommy Kirk, a Disney child actor who starred in The Shaggy Dog and The Absent-Minded Professor, came out in 1963 at age 22 after Walt Disney found out he had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy. He was fired by the studio and, while he did outreach work for the gay community, never had steady acting work again (although he eventually started a carpet cleaning business). According to Sal Mineo's website, the Giant and Rebel Without a Cause actor came out in the late '60s, but he was killed in 1976 in a robbery gone bad.
Indeed, things did get better for gay Hollywood elite, even if some felt they had to qualify their sexual preference in order to be accepted in the industry. Laying the groundwork for other musicians to be as gay as they wanna be, Elton John came out as bisexual in a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone. But as we all know, Elton turned out to be "bi now, gay later," and only admitted he was, in fact, homosexual after divorcing wife Renate Blauel in 1988.
In the late '80s, a rash of British actors including Ian McKellen, Rupert Everett, and Stephen Frye came out and their revelations refreshingly didn't impact their careers — after all, McKellen went on to costar in two of the most successful franchises of all time, The Lord of the Rings and X-Men. That industry- and fan-wide acceptance lead to our modern age, which sees celebrities periodically come out of the closet with nary a shrug (unless, of course, you're a headline writer). While there have been many trailblazers to make it safe for gay actors to live and work openly, we all really have Billy Haines to thank, who made a very tough decision back when it had very difficult consequences. Maybe Frank Ocean should dedicate a song or two to him?
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
Frank Ocean Comes Out, Makes Waves With Tumblr Letter
Anderson Cooper: 'The Fact Is, I'm Gay'
Queen Latifah: I Haven't Come Out
Don't have the heart to sit through the three hour broadcast? That's fine, but you're no better than those of us that do (even if your name was written in the sky today). In the event you still care who won, I've bolded the winners of each category as soon as they were announced. If there's no bold name in a category, it means the award hasn't been given out yet, but be sure and check back later to see who took home the prize.
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy SeriesJesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern FamilyChris Colfer, GleeJon Cryer, Two And A Half MenTy Burrell, Modern FamilyEric Stonestreet, Modern FamilyNeil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy SeriesJane Lynch, GleeJane Krakowski, 30 RockKristen Wiig, Saturday Night LiveSofia Vergara, Modern FamilyJulie Bowen, Modern FamilyHolland Taylor, Two And A Half Men Outstanding Actor In A Comedy Series Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm Tony Shaloub, Monk Steve Carell, The Office, Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory Outstanding Actress In A Comedy Series Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, The New Adventures Of Old Christine Tina Fey, 30 Rock Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie Toni Collette, The United States of Tara Lea Michele, Glee Outstanding Reality-Competition Program American Idol Dancing With The Stars The Amazing Race Project Runway Top Chef Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series John Slattery, Mad MenMartin Short, DamagesAaron Paul, Breaking BadTery O'Quinn, LostAndre Braugher, Men Of A Certain AgeMichael Emerson, Lost Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama SeriesChristina Hendricks, Mad MenRose Byrne, DamagesArchie Panjabi, The Good WifeSharon Gless, Burn NoticeElisabeth Moss, Mad MenChristine Baranski, The Good Wife
Outstanding Actor In A Drama Series Jon Hamm, Mad Men Hugh Laurie, House Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights Michael C. Hall, Dexter Matthew Fox, Lost Outstanding Actress In A Drama Series January Jones, Mad Men Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU Glenn Close, Damages Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series The Tonight Show with Conan O'BrienThe Daily Show with Jon StewartThe Colbert Report with Stephen ColbertSaturday Night LiveReal Time with Bill Maher Outstanding Actress In A Miniseries Or Movie Dame Judi Dench, Return To Cranford Hope Davis, The Special Relationship Claire Danes, Temple Grandin Joan Allen, Georga O'Keeffe Maggie Smith, Capturing Mary Outstanding Actor In A Miniseries Or Movie Sir Ian McKellen, The Prisoner Dennis Quaid, The Special Relationship Jeff Bridges, A Dog Year Al Pacino, You Don't Know Jack Michael Sheen, The Special Relationship Outstanding Made For Television Movie Endgame Moonshot Temple Grandin Georga O'Keeffe The Special Relationship You Don't Know Jack Outstanding Drama Series True Blood Dexter Mad Men The Good Wife Lost Breaking Bad Outstanding Comedy Series Curb Your Enthusiasm Modern Family The Office 30 Rock Glee
DreamWorks' "Gladiator" should be victorious again on the box office battlefield this weekend.
With "Gladiator" still commanding a 30% first-choice tracking score among opening and released movies, there's little doubt the R-rated action adventure will keep a tight grip on the top spot.
If "Gladiator" slips 36% from its $34.8 million opening, its second weekend tribute will still be a handsome sum of about $22 million.
DreamWorks is distributing "Gladiator" domestically, while Universal is releasing it internationally. The two studios co-financed the film, which reportedly cost $103 million to make, and are 50-50 partners, sharing equally in its success.
Directed by Ridley Scott, it stars Russell Crowe.
Warner Bros. and Franchise Pictures' PG-13 rated sci-fi action adventure "Battlefield Earth," opening at 3,307 theaters, should win the battle for second place. With its 19% overall first-choice tracking score, it's likely to gross about $10 million.
"It's a 22% first choice for males under 25 and a 29% first choice for males over 25," explains one studio executive. "Its awareness is 80% and the definite interest is 42% for males."
Directed by Roger Christian, it stars John Travolta, Barry Pepper and Forest Whitaker.
Universal's PG-13-rated comedy "Screwed," opening at 1,760 theaters, is a 12% first choice in the tracking. It is likely to be third with $7-8 million.
"It certainly did pop on the tracking," says an insider. "It's a 20% first choice for males. The awareness for males is 81% and the definite interest is 48% for males."
Written and directed by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, it stars Norm MacDonald, David Chappelle and Danny DeVito.
Universal's "U-571" should float downstream two slots to fourth place in its fourth week. If the PG-13-rated World War II submarine drama falls 40%, it will gross about $5 million.
Directed by Jonathan Mostow, "U-571" stars Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi.
New Line's PG-13-rated time thriller "Frequency" should tumble one peg to fifth place in its third week. If it slides 35%, it will do about $4 million.
Directed by Gregory Hoblit, it stars Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel.
Columbia's PG-13-rated youth appeal dance film "Center Stage," opening at 1,506 theaters, isn't likely to kick off in the Top Five given its modest 7% first-choice tracking.
"It's not showing on the tracking much at all," notes one studio executive.
Directed by Nicholas Hytner, it stars Amanda Schull, Zoe Saldana, Susan May Pratt, Peter Gallagher, Donna Murphy and Ethan Stiefel.
20th Century Fox's PG-13-rated drama "Where the Heart Is," a $9 million domestic pick up for Fox, was fifth with $5.1 million last week. Its third week should see it depart the Top Five.
Directed and produced by Matt Williams, it stars Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing and Joan Cusack.
Columbia's "I Dreamed Of Africa," which opened in ninth place last week to just $2.4 million, will be struggling to stay in the Top Ten in its second week.
"Africa," made on a mid-range budget of about $34 million, is directed by Hugh Hudson and stars Kim Basinger.
Filling out lower rungs: "Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" and "Love & Basketball."
On the limited release front: Miramax Films opens its R-rated contemporary version of "Hamlet" in New York and Los Angeles.
Directed by Michael Almereyda, it stars Ethan Hawke, Kyle MacLachlan, Sam Shepard, Diane Venora, Bill Murray, Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles.
Although this weekend won't set any records, insiders are happy because they anticipate a strong summer season spread around among most of the major studios. That's exactly the sort of summer theater owners enjoy most since it keeps their multiplexes filled with moviegoers, who are certain to buy their share of popcorn, candy and soda.
This summer should see business spread around among many mid-sized hits rather than concentrated, as it was last summer, in two mega-hits -- Fox and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace" and New Line's "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." Together, the two sequels did about $626 million in ticket sales through Labor Day weekend.
This summer there already are very high hopes for Paramount's "Mission: Impossible 2," which will own Memorial Day weekend. Although "M: I-2" doesn't arrive until May 24, it's already an enviable 23% first choice in the tracking. The original "Mission: Impossible" opened May 22, 1996, and grossed $180.9 million domestically, $284 million internationally -- for a worldwide total of $464.9 million.
Memorial Day weekend hits don't always wind up as the summer's biggest grossing films. The original "Mission," for example, was out-grossed by "Twister," which opened nearly two weeks earlier on May 10, 1996, and went on to gross $241.7 million domestically, $254 million internationally -- for a worldwide cume of $495.7 million.
Hollywood has found over the years that movies opening in mid-June or for July Fourth weekend often are the ones that rewrite the record books.
For instance, "Jurassic Park" opened June 11, 1993, and did $357 million domestically. "Independence Day" opened July 3, 1996, and did $306.2 million domestically. "The Lion King" arrived June 15, 1994, and did $312.8 million domestically. "Forrest Gump" opened July 6, 1994, and did $329.7 million domestically. "Men In Black" opened July 2, 1997, and did $250.1 million domestically. "Ghost" appeared July 13, 1990, and did $217.6 million domestically.
Looking beyond "M: I-2," at least eight other summer releases are already shaping up as potentially big box office contenders. Those generating the best buzz at this early point - listed in order of their release dates - include:
* Buena Vista/Disney's computer-animated family film "Dinosaur," which reportedly cost $150 million-plus to make (May 19).
* 20th Century Fox's R-rated comedy "Me, Myself & Irene," directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly ("There's Something About Mary") and starring Jim Carrey and Renee Zellweger (June 23).
* Columbia's action-adventure "The Patriot," set during the Revolutionary War, directed by Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day") and starring Mel Gibson (June 28), which reportedly cost about $100 million to make.
* Warner Bros.' Action-adventure "The Perfect Storm," directed by Wolfgang Petersen ("Air Force One") and starring George Clooney, which reportedly cost about $120 million to make (June 30).
* 20th Century Fox's live-action fantasy-adventure "X-Men," based on the best-selling comic book series, directed by Bryan Singer ("The Usual Suspects") and starring Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Bruce Davison, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Ray Park and Anna Paquin (July 14).
* DreamWorks' fantasy thriller "What Lies Beneath," directed by Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump") and starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer (July 21).
* Universal and Imagine Entertainment's comedy sequel "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps," directed by Peter Seagal ("Tommy Boy") and starring Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson, Larry Miller and John Ales (July 28).
* 20th Century Fox's comedy remake "Bedazzled," directed by Harold Ramis ("Groundhog Day") and starring Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley, a potential summer sleeper (Aug. 11).