Containing Multitudes Since 2004
I mean, who knew he was gay?
Well . . . as bad documentaries tell us, 'It was a more innocent time.'Or at least a more clueless one. I mean, Liberace mounted two successful lawsuits against newspapers in the 50s, just because they hinted that he wasn't exactly Gary Cooper when it came to the machismo spectrum.That fact alone ought to tell any litigator everything they'd ever need to know about juries.By the by, a happy and prosperous new year to ya, Sam!
At least one of the Liberace lawsuits had very little to do with juries and a great deal to do with British law. Under the British libel laws the burden of proof in libel cases resides with the defence - in other words Liberace didn't have to prove that he wasn't gay even if the "charge" was just implied. Instead it was required that the Daily Mirror provide concrete proof either that Liberace was a homosexual (a crime in Britain at the time) or that "the statement was a view that a reasonable person would hold." I don't know what that would entail in this case, but clearly the Mirror didn't prove that position either.
Don't go assuming this was an unknowing or innocent era - far from it, for even as the media was complicit in covering up scandals under the guise of exposing them, it enabled a nasty kind of "slavery" via blackmail that wasn't so much secure as implied. Willson brought into the star system a lotta faces in a lotta pillows, beefcake and bimbette - almost too many; it was a pretty hard job keeping them on a leash, I imagine. A the height of his fame in the very early sixties, my maternal grandmother once remarked at a party how she loved Rock Hudson, and my father, a rigging salesman, and his friend Jack, a contractor, exchanged glances and rolled their eyes as she walked away into the kitchen. Their wives caught that, and my mother said quietly, "What's wrong with that?" "He's queer as hell, I thought everybody knew that," said Dad. My Mom gave him a shush look - us kids were right around the corner playing pool in the game room, and all our heads had snapped around like gaffs'lls in a sea-change, and I couldn't half believe what we'd just heard. I happened to be closest to the hallway, and I strained to hear it as Jack said under his breath, "I don't think any of those guys with screwy names like Rock, or Tab or Rory aren't queer, it's all over the place. And you can't trust any of the women in the movies either - every one of 'em is hiding something, if you ask me." My Mom said in a practical way, "Then don't go smashing what somebody else gets from the movies, it's all acting, after all, and some is just more of an act than others." My Dad and Jack cracked grins and just shook their heads - what they took away from movies was obviously judged through a fairly narrow view of some things in a way, although it was an unspoken one. My dad wasn't one to foist his opinions on me regarding pretty much anything except drugs - he was almost quaintly obscure regarding sex and talk thereof, figuring I had my own path to walk in that respect, but he did say one thing after that party was over, and he drew me aside. "Son, I know you heard us talking about things you might not understand, but I don't want you be afraid to ask me anything about you what heard, either, any time." I had heard the word queer, and homo before, (gay wasn't in common use back then) and had an exaggerated idea what it was, but I didn't want to seem ignorant - I was pretty full of myself back then as a kid - so I shook my head. My Dad gave a little smile, "Don't be too sure you know what we were saying in there - just remember not everything is what it seems in the movies, especially with guys with funny names." He grinned, "Well, most of the time anyway." A few years later when we had "The Sex Talk", most of which I already had a good idea of what was what, he asked me about that day, and I said, "Yeah, you were right - I didn't know what was going on, and I guess I'm glad I didn't. Movies were more....fun, to watch that way." "That's what I figured," he said. "Movies are getting pretty wide open these days, so use your judgment when you take a girl out to one, you never know what you might see." This was in the late sixties, so you can imagine how wide open things busted in a few years. By then the actors with overly macho names were in the dustbin, pretty much, and it was actually harder to figure the orientation of Hollywood stars - so much for beefcake.
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