isn't coming out. He's always been out.
Frankly, he never found much use for the closet beyond
being a good place to hang his suits. And if being
bisexual doesn't bother him, why should it concern
Since starring in
two key gay films by Alfred Hitchcock, Rope
(1948) and Strangers on a Train (1951), Granger has
been a tantalizing figure. Forthright and open about
sleeping with men as well as women throughout his
career, he has been happily partnered with TV producer
Robert Calhoun (As the World Turns, The Guiding
Light) for the last 45 years. His new
autobiography, Include Me Out: My Life From Goldwyn
to Broadway (St. Martin's Press), written
with Calhoun, reads with equal candor about the
industry and his escapades.
juicy anecdote after another: Granger lived with writer
Arthur Laurents (and walked in on him being too
friendly with a delivery boy); he had romps with Ava
Gardner, Barbara Stanwyck, and Leonard Bernstein;
stared down Edward Albee; and maintained a tumultuous
lifelong friendship with Shelley Winters (and nearly
The book should
be a window into an era when gay actors worried about
being outed so much that they'd marry women and avoid
all roles with the slightest hint of gay subtext. But
what's noticeably absent from Include Me
Out is angst. Granger doesn't talk about his
worries, coming out to his parents, or guilt of any
loved men. I have loved women. I will talk with affection
and without guilt or remorse about both," he
Even the simplest
question about whether he considers himself gay or
bisexual doesn't engage him. "I'm too
old to worry about that," says the 81-year-old.
"I've done too much."
Calhoun, 76, is less reticent, readily discussing the moment
he knew he was gay, the couple's support of the
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and
Granger's unwillingness to place importance on his
"It's very frustrating for reporters because
they often ask him what it was like being gay in
Hollywood at his age," says Calhoun. "And his
answers seem like he's avoiding the question.
I've grilled him on my own afterwards, just to
say, 'Well, come on, you must have had some
feeling,' but he never had any feeling of
guilt. He said he never worried about it or tried to
hide who he was."
I spent several
hours talking to Granger in his apartment on
Manhattan's Upper West Side, Calhoun and cats
by his side. And while he might not have much to say
on some topics, he will eagerly and enthusiastically
discuss his work.
career ran backward in many ways. He went from big Hollywood
films to off-Broadway productions, from a movie star to an
actor, and from a contract player (Hollywood's
term for indentured servant) to an independent talent
who nonetheless had genuine commercial pull.
It all began in
1943 when the famed producer Samuel Goldwyn signed an
exuberant teenage Granger to a contract, and then had no
clue what to do with him. Goldwyn also unwittingly set
the tone for Granger's stance on his sexuality
when he told the young actor to stay away from composer
Aaron Copland, "a known homosexual," and
Granger flatly refused.
Goldwyn and the films he was being asked to do, the actor
wanted to break away from his contract to pursue the
theater. Their battles were so legendary they became a
running joke in the 2002 one-man show Mr. Goldwyn.
"I did get
a few good things out of Goldwyn," says Granger.
"None of them was money, of course. It was
great when he finally said, 'I will let you go;
I'll free you. But you have to give me all the money
you've got.' I said, 'Sure,
I'll give you all the money I've got.
I'll give you all the money other people have
best work definitely happened outside of Goldwyn's
influence, especially when loaned out to Hitchcock.
was a devil," says Drew Casper, professor of American
film and holder of the Alma and Alfred Hitchcock Chair
in the School of Cinema-Television at the University
of Southern California. "He loved gossip, and
he loved to know secrets about people in a very nice way. He
knew when casting Rope that indeed Farley Granger was
gay; he knew Arthur Laurents, who adapted it, was gay;
he knew John Dall was gay; and he knew--although
Granger hadn't moved in yet with Arthur
Laurents--they were lovers. He knew, and they
knew he knew. But none of this was discussed. It was
just secrets that they had, and he loved that.
"Rope certainly up to that time was the most
sophisticated representation of homosexuality on the
screen," Casper continues. "And probably
even today--it's just accepted. That's
the point; it's just accepted. And the picture
Strangers on a Train was especially satisfying for
Granger, giving him a lifelong friendship with
Hitchcock's daughter, Patricia, and one of the
best roles of his career. "I loved doing
Strangers because Hitch knew he had a
hit," says Granger. "He'd gone through
some bad times over in London, and the movies
weren't that good."
While working on
Luchino Visconti's Senso in 1954 (an
underrated film and one of Granger's best),
Visconti's lover Franco Zeffirelli accidentally
dyed Granger's hair bright pink.
terrible, just shocking," says Granger, laughing.
"I thought Visconti was going to kill him. The
makeup man had to work on me every morning. I thought
I was going to lose my hair."
Besides the two
Hitchcock movies and Senso, Granger's film
credits include Nicholas Ray's classic They
Live by Night (1948) and films by Lewis
Milestone and Anthony Mann.
To every role he
played Granger brought what Entertainment Tonight
critic Leonard Maltin begrudgingly calls
"I hate to
use that old, overused word," says the film
historian. "He's not weak when he plays
those characters, but he's vulnerable. And
that's something we can all relate to very
easily. It makes him flawed and human, and he
expresses those qualities really well."
For all his film
success, it was the stage that would bring Granger his
greatest accomplishments as an actor. Arthur Miller praised
the 1964 revival of The Crucible, starring
Granger, as exactly what he'd intended for the
play. Granger gave Deathtrap a final goose at the
box office when he joined the cast in 1981, extending its
record-breaking run another 15 months. The crowning
moment of his theater career was winning an Obie award
in 1986 for his performance in the off-Broadway
Talley & Son.
most unexpected stage success came in a 1960 New York City
Center revival of The King and I, a show headed for
Broadway until an actors' strike derailed it.
Richard Rodgers later wrote in a letter that he and
Oscar Hammerstein considered Granger, as the king, and
Barbara Cook, who played Anna, their favorites in those
kind of in the same boat as far as casting goes,"
says Cook. "Normally, neither of us would have
been cast in those roles.
chemistry that people talk about? Boy, did we have
it!" says Cook. "Farley has a
sensitivity that touches you so very well. With Yul Brynner
it was hard to see how his spirit could be broken so
easily--I mean, he dies! But with Farley it made
The two actors
were attracted to each other, but Cook was married, so
they didn't pursue it. Still friends after all these
years (Granger and Calhoun's apartment has
numerous Cook albums scattered about), Cook pauses
before acknowledging the attraction was mutual. "I
did sense that," she says.
But certainly the
woman who most dominated Granger's life was the
bombastic Shelley Winters.
have married her if she hadn't been quite as crazy as
she was," says Granger. "She wanted to
get married to...make herself respectable. She
could be very, very difficult, and she could also be very
funny and very dear, really. It was the angel and the
monster all together."
accidentally overdosed, it was her lover Burt Lancaster and
Granger who came to her rescue. Years later Granger would
get her an apartment in his building by introducing
her to the building manager.
in the building and she said, 'Don't you think
it would be wonderful if there was a portrait of me on
the wall?' "
manager's response? " 'No!'
Her ego was unbelievable."
Even as Granger
and Calhoun share stories of Winters accusing them of
stealing her best glasses or leaning mattresses up against
the windows to keep out the cold, they're told
with genuine affection.
same tone he uses in his autobiography. For while Granger
enjoys a good story, he never dishes dirt or seems to
be settling scores. In Laurents's memoir,
Original Story by, he took digs at Granger, but
Include Me Out doesn't return the favor.
Granger calls the writer a mentor and tips his hat to
the importance of their relationship. Even Goldwyn is
given a fair shake, though Granger suggests without rancor
that breaking with Goldwyn (and, in effect, the studio
system) is one reason he didn't get many good
roles in Hollywood after the 1950s.
It might be said
that Granger applies the same parity to his sexual
exploits. While stationed in Hawaii with the U.S. Navy
during World War II he lost his virginity to a woman,
then hours later to a man.
the hardest things in the world is to really find
yourself," says Granger, who first slept with
Calhoun the night of November 22, 1963--the date
John F. Kennedy was shot. "And once you find
yourself, it's great. You should hang on to it.
But sometimes it takes a lot of work, to really say,
'This is who I am.' It wasn't that
difficult for me because Hollywood really did not
impress me. I felt, I'm not going anywhere here.
I mean, I was, but I didn't like what I was doing.
I'd seen those actors on the stage in New York,
and that's what I wanted."
because Hollywood during the 1950s was looking for a
slightly different type of leading man. "It was
the time of Brando and Holden and Dean," says
Casper. "Farley was very difficult because Hollywood
was, in the postwar period, into tortured men,
anguished men. He didn't convey that. He was
young, he had a handsome demeanor, and he didn't look
like he was troubled."
"Troubled" is exactly what Granger has never
been. Maybe it's his rare ability not to care
what other people think. Maybe it's his tendency to
focus on the work, not the fame. Maybe it's that
particular breed of self-confidence that only good
looks allow. Or maybe it's selective memory.
I point out to
Granger that Include Me Out has stories of him
rejecting the advances of admirers like Noel Coward and
Laurents but none of him being dumped. Any memories of
I can think of," he says with a laugh. Who can blame