Farley Granger: Goldenboy
BY Advocate Contributors
March 29 2011 1:20 PM ET
Samuel Goldwyn, Granger’s boss, was the worst, the actor says. When the 17-year-old star-to-be became friendly with legendary composer Aaron Copland, who was crafting the score for The North Star, Goldwyn cautioned him against being seen in public with Copland. “Goldwyn said, ‘He’s suspected of being a homosexual,’” Granger remembers. “I told him, ‘So? You want me to tell one of the greatest composers in the world that I can’t be seen in public with him? Forget it. Tear up my damn contract!’”
Granger recalls only one other instance in which Goldwyn warned him about fraternizing with another gay man. “He said I shouldn’t be seen with Arthur Laurents because he was gay and because he was a Communist,” says Granger of the famed playwright and screenwriter. “I don’t think that last part was true,” he adds, laughing.
Granger says he ignored Goldwyn’s counsel and continued his friendship with Laurents. Eventually the pair became lovers. The romance lasted four years, Granger says, though he refuses to go beyond confirming the relationship.
While his romances with famous men may remain mysterious, Gran-ger’s affairs with women are well-documented. In the late ’40s, gossip columnist Louella O. Parsons paired him with Joan Evans, his costar in 1949’s Roseanna McCoy, and he was engaged to Janice Rule in the mid ’50s. Granger insists that these romances were real and that he resisted the “arranged” affairs some stars endured. Goldwyn didn’t interfere with the actor’s love life until he read of Granger’s engagement to Shelley Winters.
“That one with Shelley drove Goldwyn up the wall,” Granger recalls, laughing. “He told me I should marry Jane Powell or Ann Blyth but not someone like Shelley, who was always playing this kind of sexy hooker type. I was supposed to be the boy next door.”
Although he truly wanted to marry Winters, “she was so impossible that I talked myself out of it,” says Granger. “I love her to death—we’re still great friends—but she’s nuts. Janice Rule and I lived together, and I felt I was in love with her, but something was saying, Don’t do this. I’m glad I didn’t.”
Granger saw several gay actors cave in to studio pressure and marry. “It was never a fair deal for their wives or their kids,” he says. “These guys were living a lie, and they usually ended up regretting it.”
As an example, Granger cites Robert Reed, whom he replaced in a gay role in Deathtrap on Broadway in 1981. “That was a tragic case,” Granger says. “He kept pretending. He was married, but he was sneaking out and picking up men all