By Christopher Harrity
Originally published on Advocate.com June 12 2014 4:00 AM ET
Music to listen to while practicing kissing your pillow.
"Young Love" by actor-singer Tab Hunter was released by Dot Records. It first reached the Billboard charts on January 19, 1957. On the Disk Jockey chart, it peaked at number 1; on the Best Seller chart, at number 1; on the Juke Box chart, at number 1; and on the composite chart of the top 100 songs, it reached number 1. The success of this record led Warner Bros., where Hunter was under contract, to form Warner Bros. Records.
Music to listen to while sulking and putting Vitalis in your hair.
Sal Mineo already had a solid acting career when he started putting out records. Before he released his first single, he had appeared in several major productions on Broadway and in films. When he turned to rock and roll, his first efforts were equally successful. In 1957 he released a pair of singles, "Start Movin' (In My Direction)" and "Lasting Love." The former broke into the Top 10 and remained in the Top 40 for more than three months, while the latter hit number 27. (Source: AllMusic.com)
Music for boys with conflict-y mother issues. ("Oh God, Mother, blood!")
The emo boy prototype, Tony Perkins began his recording career in 1956 after he sang “A Little Love Goes a Long, Long Way” during a Goodyear TV Playhouse production called Joey. Executives at Epic Records were impressed with Perkins’s vocal abilities and offered him a recording contract, which led Perkins to record a self-titled album for Epic in 1957. Afterward he recorded two albums for RCA, From My Heart and On a Rainy Afternoon, both released in 1958. But having received much praise for his performance in William Wyler’s film Friendly Persuasion (1956), Perkins focused more on his acting career as the '50s came to a close, and he never recorded another album. (Source: Cinebeats.Wordpress.com)
Music to play doctor to.
In 1962, in his first venture into singing, Richard Chamberlain recorded a single of the theme from Dr. Kildare, "Three Stars Will Shine Tonight" (written by Jerry Goldsmith and Pete Rugolo), and it was soon followed by an album called Richard Chamberlain Sings (1962). Both records were a success. Richard Chamberlain sang in three Dr. Kildare episodes, "Love is a Sad Song" (1963), "Rome Will Never Leave You" (1964), and "Music Hath Charms" (1965). During the Dr. Kildare days, he made the movie Joy in the Morning and sang the title tune. His second album was called, precisely, Joy in the Morning (1964). Other singles followed. After Dr. Kildare ended, Chamberlain ventured into musical theater in the stage version of Breakfast at Tiffany's, but the ill-fated show was canceled by the producer after tryouts in Philadelphia and Boston, and only three previews in Broadway. In 1967, Chamberlain played the role of Tony in a summer stock production of West Side Story, with performances in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Long Island. (Source: RichardChamberlain.net).
Really? Jim Nabors is gay? I was shocked when my mother's hairdresser told me.
The sometimes sketchy Wikipedia says this: "On January 29, 2013, Hawaii News Now reported that Nabors married his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader, at Seattle, Washington's Fairmont Olympic Hotel on January 15, a month after same-sex marriage became legal in Washington.
"An urban legend maintains that Nabors married Rock Hudson in the early 1970s, shortly before Nabors began his relationship with Cadwallader. At least publicly, the two were never more than friends. According to Hudson, the legend originated with a group of 'middle-aged homosexuals who live in Huntington Beach' who sent out joke invitations for their annual get-together. One year, the group invited its members to witness 'the marriage of Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors,' at which Hudson would take the surname of Nabors' most famous character, Gomer Pyle, becoming 'Rock Pyle.' Those who failed to get the joke spread the rumor. Because the urban legend had raised the risk of both of them getting legitimately outed, Nabors and Hudson never spoke to each other again."
Those damn middle-aged homosexuals.
Music to get angsty to.
What? You don't know who Rod McKuen is? In the late '60s he was the best-selling poet in the U.S. His translation of Jacques Brel's songs led to Brel's popularity in the United States. Hell, even Frank Sinatra recorded an album of his songs. He was the gravelly voiced, craggy sexpot of the '60s and '70s. Rock Hudson didn't just make albums with anyone, you know. McKuen stayed sort of undercover about his sexuality for years, but looking back at his titles, it was like a billboard. Like: More Rod '77.
Here's to the ladies who record.
OK, this whole section was so I could have a page to add Judith Anderson's Medea to. Oh, and Janis Ian's "Stars" is the best song ever written. Barbara Cook does an awesome version. OK, that last part was so gay I feel queasy.
Cries and whispers.
These two Johnnies were the most intense song stylists of the middle of the last century. Johnnie Ray was a gonzo, anguished crooner and drinking buddy of Judy Garland. Nothing more important can be said. Johnny Mathis was the creamy, sweeter-than-honey-dipped-sugar-cane-voiced doll boy. Mathis did finally come out long after anyone cared, but he was a chart-topper for years.
George Maharis of Route 66 fame was a sexy bad boy who got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Repeatedly. Here's a quote: "George Maharis Arrested in Men's Room," Gay Scene, December 1974: "Famous Hollywood actor George Maharis was arrested November 21 and charged with committing a sex act with a hairdresser in the men's room of a gas station in Los Angeles. ... He was booked on a sex perversion charge along with Perfecto Telles, 33, the hairdresser, and released on $500 bail, according to police." An earlier guilty plea for a Hollywood lewd conduct arrest on 15 December 1967 with a male is also documented." I used to run into George at the gym in Hollywood. He was devilishly sexy at 77. Really.
Jack Larson was the actor who played Jimmy Olsen on the original Superman television series. But that alone would be burying the lead. He was also the longtime partner of director James Bridges and once was a boyfriend of Montgomery Clift. Larson was a talented librettist and worked with gay composer Virgil Thompson on his opera Lord Byron. Larson owns and lives in the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed George Sturges House in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles.
Rock Hudson's moody picture is for his album of songs written by Rod McKuen.
It was a more patient time. Can you imagine sitting in your living room in a nice Eames lounger listening to Christopher Isherwood read A Single Man in his reedy, dry-as-burnt-toast voice? Make yourself a nice Rob Roy to sip.
Invite all the boys over and have a listening party. We suggest gin. On this list: Jim Bailey — actually an amazing talent, his Judy Garland is astonishing; Bette Davis Sings — That's a lie; Co-Star with Tallulah Bankhead — the record that invented Lypsinka. You can act along with Tallulah here; Geraldine: Don't Fight the Feeling (are you listening, Tyler?) — Flip Wilson kills; Rusty Warren in Orbit — straight people's camp. Funnier and funnier the more you drink. The first really raunchy lady on record; The Art of Ruth Draper — the opposite of Rusty Warren, Draper was cerebral, moving, and deeply funny. Annette Bening just did a one-woman show of her work here in L.A.; Tallulah again in All About Eve. Can you imagine her line reading of "Fasten your seat belts"? Interesting to note, the real event that inspired the author of the story that All About Eve was based on was an incident in Tallulah's life.
Odds and ends.
Paul Lynde in all his angry, closety glory; Merv Griffin was a recording star before his talk show and game show empire was built; Zebedy Colt was the first man to record love songs to men (we think, so let us know if you know different.) He was also a porn star in straight films; We are not sure if Peter Berlin actually sings on this. We imagine him to sound a bit ike Marlene Dietrich; the Master, Noël Coward's best album.
Amused and disturbed all at once.
Anything we say about these album covers could put us in legal hot water. Write your own captions.
Music all the kids like these days.
I can't believe that the editors critisized this piece telling me that no one would know any of the people on the previous pages. "Does it have to be all gay people?" they whined. They asked that I get some more contemporary album covers. I don't know the sexual orientation of all these fellows, I haven't slept with all of them. So here you are, kids! Wham!'s Make It Big — make what big?; Freddie Mercury's Made In Heaven — a rainbow chubbie. Subtle; The Very Best of Peter Allen — forget the album, where can I get a silver waist cincher?; Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits — has anyone ever seen Barry and Barbara Walters in the same room?; Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road needs no comment; Luther Vandross's Your Secret Love feels cryptic and sweetly sad; Paul Williams's Songs for the Family of Man boasts the ultimate aviators; young unknown David Bowie had a pert little shag on his first album cover.