Wisecracker: the life and times of William Haines, Hollywood's first openly gay star

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Viking, Jan 1, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 444 pages
11 Reviews
In 1930 William Haines was Hollywoods #1 box-office draw - a talented, handsome, wisecracking romantic lead. Offscreen, protected by a careful collaboration between studio and press, he was openly gay with reporters and studio chiefs alike. Here is Haines's virtually unknown story - rich with detail, revelations, and scandal - about silent movies and talkies; his lover Jimmie Shields, and the fifty-year relationship (Joan Crawford, their best friend, called them "The happiest married couple in Hollywood") and the enforcement of the Production Code and the establishment of the Hollywood closet, which led to the blacklisting that ultimately doomed Haimes's film career.Wisecracker sweeps from gay pool parties to the excitement of early talkies to Haines's infamous encounter with gay-bashing white supremicists in 1936. He survived the scandal to emerge as a top interior decorator to the stars and to such clients as Nancy Reagan and Walter Annenberg, who employed him for the American Embassy in London. With a cast of characters running from Tallulah Bankhead to Betsy Bloomingdale, from Clark Gable to William Randolph Hearst, Wisecracker is an astounding peice of newly discovered gay history, a chronicle of high Hollywood, and - at it's heart - a great and enduring love story.

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

User Review  - Dave Whitaker - Goodreads

This was an enjoyable read, but a bit "breezy" for me. At times, I was frustrated with the author because I felt he speculated too much on what Billy Haines was thinking or feeling. Mann would also ... Read full review

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

User Review  - Brad Vance - Goodreads

"Hollywood's first openly gay star"...and the last one for another, what, eighty years? Ninety? Anybody bid a hundred? The key here is "openly gay STAR." Haines was the one of the biggest box office ... Read full review


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About the author (1998)

William J. Mann is the author of Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn, which was named a New York Times Notable Book. Mann has worked as a freelance journalist and editor, and has written several other works of fiction and nonfiction. He divides his time between Provincetown, Massachusetts and New York City.

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