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WISECRACKER: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM HAINES, HOLLYWOOD'S FIRST OPENLY GAY STAR

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Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines, Hollywood's First Openly Gay Star

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
William J. Mann
genre:
Biography, Movies

We gave it a B+

WISECRACKER: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM HAINES, HOLLYWOOD’S FIRST OPENLY GAY STAR William J. Mann (Viking, $29.95) A silent- film heartthrob who made a successful transition to talkies, Billy Haines never hid his homosexuality from the public eye. In this trenchant, sensitive bio, journalist Mann details the sad price Haines paid for his quick-witted candor: Due to the conservative climate in 1933, Haines’ studio demanded that he marry or lose his contract. He chose the latter fate — and became an interior decorator. Haines’ story might seem obscure, but Mann foregrounds it against an illuminating portrait of early Hollywood’s gay underground and pointedly contrasts it with the experiences of Haines’ friends, such as Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, and Barbara Stanwyck, who Mann asserts were ”wisecrackers” (1920s slang for gay) who opted for the closet — and stellar careers. B+