Saturday, January 2, 2016

William Haines, 1900-1973

A young William Haines (r.) with a very young Joan Crawford

Today marks the birth anniversary of actor William Haines, who was born on this day in 1900. Haines won a "new faces" contest in 1922 that got him a contract first with Goldwyn, and then with MGM when Goldwyn merged with the other studios that would become MGM in 1924. Haines quickly became popular as a leading man in light romantic comedies, such as Tell It to the Marines, or West Point which I apparently haven't blogged about before.

Haines had a voice that would have made the transition to sound just fine, but there was a bigger problem, which is that he was gay and pretty darn open about it being an open secret that people in Hollywood knew but didn't get mentioned in all the fan mags of the day, for obvious reasons. Still, Louis B. Mayer wantd Haines to go through with a sham marriage for appearances' sake, and when Haines refused, phffft there went the contract.

With the kibosh put on Haines' acting career, he went into a second career, which was as an interior designer. He still had all those old Hollywood friends, with Joan Crawford being near the top of the list, and the old-time Hollywood crowd recommending him to one another kept Haines in an active decorating career for the rest of his life until his death in 1973. Apparently he also remained with the same partner for 45 years or more until his death, something not particularly common in Hollywood regardless of whether it's a homosexual or heterosexual relationship.

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