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
10 Reviews
"In 1930 William Haines was Hollywood's number-one box-office draw - a talented, handsome, wisecracking romantic lead. After leaving acting he went on to become the interior designer to Hollywood's elite - everyone from Carole Lombard and Jack Warner to Nancy Reagan - and to such clients as Ambassador Walter Annenberg, who commissioned him for the American Embassy in London. Through it all, he never disguised who he was: Off-screen, he was openly gay to reporters and studio chiefs alike, and at his side at all times was his lover, Jimmie Shields. In a world where truth is often distorted in the funhouse mirror of Hollywood, Billy Haines lived a completely authentic life." "Here is William Haines's virtually unknown story - rich in detail, revelations, and scandal. As the political climate in Hollywood changed, Billy refused to go along. He bucked studio pressure to stop carousing and get married, leading to skirmishes with Louis B. Mayer and the police; there was even a violent encounter with gay-bashing white supremacists in 1936. Here, for the first time, the stories of Hollywood's gay stars are seen in context with their times and with one another, revealing a pattern of intimidation by the studios and, ultimately, the establishment of the Hollywood closet. Alone among his contemporaries - Ramon Novarro, Cary Grant, Tyrone Power - Haines refused to play the game, and so was booted out." "In the end, however, he triumphed: In his new profession of interior design Billy gained Hollywood's abiding respect, and his union with Jimmie Shields lasted nearly fifty years."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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

User Review  - Diane - Goodreads

More than any other star William Haines epitomized the "anything goes" attitude of the 1920s. This is just a splendidly written book by William T. Mann which could equally have had the title "The ... Read full review

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

Contents

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19261928 96
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Copyright

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About the author (1998)

William J. Mann is an American novelist, biographer, and Hollywood historian best known for his studies of Hollywood and the American film industry, especially his 2006 biography of Katharine Hepburn, Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn. Kate was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2006 by the New York Times. Mann was born in Connecticut and received his Master's degree at Wesleyan University. His first novel, The Men From the Boys, was published by Dutton in 1997. His other biographies include How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood, and 2014's New York Times bestseller: Hello Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand.

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