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Saluting The Kennedy Center Honors' Roster of Gay Inductees

Kennedy center honorsLike the Academy Awards and Tony Awards, a considerable number of gay men have an affinity for the Kennedy Center Honors because of its celebration of personalities in the performing arts.  Since the first awards were handed out in 1978 a steady stream of accomplished gay men have been chosen as honorees.  However, not until 2015 year was a self-proclaimed lesbian awarded the honor - Lily Tomlin.  (But rumored lesbians such as Mary Martin, Claudette Colbert, Katharine Hepburn and Dolly Parton have been honored).  The ceremony takes place in early December, with the President and First Lady in attendance (the exception has been Trump and Melania); the telecast of the event usually airs a few days after Christmas on CBS.  Interestingly, the colors of the award's sash are those of the rainbow flag.  In 2002 DC's Gay Men's Chorus performed as part of the tribute to Elizabeth Taylor.

 

Lily.tomlin
2014 honoree, Lily Tomlin

   

23 of the 213 recipients (through 2019) have been gay.  In four of the years there were two gay inductees: 1979, 1986, 1993 and 2010.  (In 1989 Claudette Colbert and Mary Martin were honorees).  The longest stretch in which no gay honorees were named was the five years between 2005-2009 (this drought might be matched next year depending on 2019's announcement).  Conversely, between 1979 and 1988 every year but one (1989) had a gay recipient.   

 

GAY HONOREES   

To be considered, a candidate must be living at the time of their induction.  Of the 23 gay honorees (listed below), eight are still alive.  The first gay honorees were Aaron Copland and Tennessee Williams in 1979.  One glaring oversight was playwright and director Arthur Laurents (who died in 2011 at the age of 93).  Perhaps it was because of his prickly personality?

 

Bill.t.jones.kennedy.center.honors
Bill T. Jones

 

Aaron Copland (1979) - composer (died in 1990, age 90)

Tennessee Williams (1979) - novelist (died in 1983, age 73)

Leonard Bernstein (1980) - composer/conductor (died in 1990, age 72)

Jerome Robbins (1981) - choreographer (died in 1998, age 79)

Virgil Thomson (1982) - composer (died in 1989, age 92)

Gian Carlo Menotti (1984) - conductor/composer (died in 2007, age 95)

Frederick Loewe (1985) – lyricist (died in 1988, age 86)

Merce Cunningham (1986) - dancer/choreographer (died in 2009, age 90)

Antony Tudor (1986) - ballet choreographer (died in 1987, age 79)

Alwin Nikolais (1987) - dancer/choreographer (died in 1993, age 82)

Alvin Ailey (1988) - dancer/choreographer (died in 1989, age 58)

Stephen Sondheim (1993) - composer/lyricist (born in 1930)

Arthur Mitchell (1993) - dancer/choreographer (died in 2018, age 84)

Edward Albee (1996) - playwright (died in 2016, age 88)

Fred Ebb & John Kander (1998) - lyricists (Ebb died in 2004, age 76; Kander is still alive, born in 1927)

Van Cliburn (2001) - pianist (died in 2013, age 78)

James Levine (2002) - conductor (born in 1943)

Elton John (2004) - singer/composer/pianist (born in 1947)

Bill T Jones (2010) - dancer/choreographer (born in 1952)

Jerry Herman (2010) - lyricist and composer (died in 2019, age 88)

Lily Tomlin (2014) - actress/comedian (born in 1939)

Michael Tilson Thomas (2019) - conductor, pianist and composer (born in 1944)

 

Michael tilson thomas

 

Other lesbians worthy of consideration for future induction may include Jodie Foster, Cherry Jones, Melissa Etheridge and Cynthia Nixon. And Johnny Mathis, Terrence McNally, Tommy Tune and Richard Chamberlain are worthy candidates on the gay male side.  

 

GAY ICONS/DIVAS

Although not gay themselves, sixteen recipients, all women, have the distinction of being gay icons.  The most recent was Cher, in 2018.  Another icon, Maria Callas, likely would have been honored but she died the year before the first Kennedy Center Honors (at the very young age of 53).

 

Barbra.streisand.kennedycenterhonors

Ella Fitzgerald (1979)

Martha Graham (1979)

Leontyne Price (1980)

Lucille Ball (1986)

Bette Davis (1987)

Katharine Hepburn (1990)

Aretha Franklin (1994)

Judith Jamison (1999)

Angela Lansbury (2000)

Chita Rivera (2002)

Elizabeth Taylor (2002)

Dolly Parton (2006)

Diana Ross (2007)

Barbra Streisand (2008)

Barbara Cook (2011)

Cher (2018)

 

Kennedycenterhonors.cbs


Barbra Streisand's 1st TV Special, "My Name is Barbra", Airs (April 28, 1965)

My_name_is_barbraSpringtime was an important time for Barbra Streisand's early career as her first TV appearance (Jack Paar, 1961); two Broadway shows; two TV specials; and her Oscar for Best Actress (Funny Girl) all occurred in March or April.  The first of her TV specials aired on April 28, 1965.  Titled "My Name is Barbra", it coincided with the release of her album by the same name. 

 

The special was shot in black & white and featured no guests, just Barbra.  Amazingly, the hour-long telecast was jam-packed with 27 songs (actually, less than an hour when taking commericals into account).  The special was critically acclaimed, won three Emmy Awards, and was followed in 1966 by her next special "Color Me Barbra" , which would be another tour de force.    

 

 


Barbra Streisand Triumphs in "Funny Girl" (March 26, 1964)

Funny_girl_broadway Funny_girl_poster1964 was an outstanding year on Broadway.  It began with the opening of Hello, Dolly! and at the end of the year, Fiddler on the Roof got the 1964-65 theater season off to a rousing start.  And in between the two was Funny Girl, which opened on March 26, 1964.  21-year-old Barbra Streisand starred, but it had taken a while for her name to come up during casting discussions.  Before she was approached, one singer whose name was tossed around was Eydie Gorme; however, she would consider the role only if her husband, Steve Lawrence, was cast in the role of Nicky Arnstein!   

 

(By the way, this was not Babs' Broadway debut.  That occurred two years earlier in I Can Get it for You Wholesale.)

 

Carolchanning_hellodolly_imagesCA1M3E8D Streisand_hellodolly_imagesCA0OETF3 Despite receiving eight Tony nominations, Funny Girl went home empty-handed as Hello, Dolly! was the big winner, with ten.  However, Barbra would win an Oscar as Best Actress for the movie version, which was released in 1968.  (It was the top grossing film of the year.)  And when Hello Dolly! was made into a feature film in 1969, it was Streisand who was cast in the title role, not Broadway Dolly's! Carol Channing.  (This was also Channing's fate when Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was made into a movie in 1953 and Marilyn Monroe was chosen over her, despite Channing's acclaimed performance in Blondes on Broadway.)   

 

 

 

I've also published posts about other Broadway openings:

Angels in America (1993)

Boys in the Band (1968)

Coco (1969)

Company (1970)

Dreamgirls (1981)

Evita (1979)

Into the Woods (1987)

Speed the Plow (1988)

Take Me Out (2002)

Twilight of the Golds (1993)

West Side Story (1957)

 


The 2013 Academy Awards: A Post Mortem

2013_oscar_winnersThe 2013 Oscars telecast was a rather tedious affair, largely characterized by the awkward reaction of the audience at LA's Dolby Theatre to host Seth MacFarlane's borderline tasteless attempts at humor.  However, I wasn't too troubled as it was nice to see a fresh face.  On what it is considered our big night, our Super Bowl, gays were mentioned three times.

 

 

  • The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles appeared on stage.
  • After the chorus' appearance, MacFarlane told William Shatner (who was visiting from the future) that he wasn't a member of the chorus, to which Shatner replied, "Oh, trust me, in July 2015 you join the chorus".
  • Later in the telecast MacFarlane announced that the musical Chicago was being honored for winning Best Picture 10 years ago, "because we're afraid the show wasn't gay enough yet."
  • By far, the highlight of the night for me was Dame Shirley Bassey, who appeared at the end of a tribute to 50 years of James Bond movies and performed the theme from Gold Finger.  It was a very electric performance (such expressive use of her hands and arms!) and the audience gave her quite a reception.  Later, at the end of the "In Memoriam" tribute, Barbra Streisand came on stage and, in tribute to Marvin Hamlisch, sang The Way We Were.

 

Shirley_bassey

 

  • I loved hearing last year's Best Actor winner, French actor Jean Dujardin, pronouncing the names of the Best Actress nominees.

 

Jean_dujardin.imdb

 

  • Although it was a nice surprise to see the Gay Men's Chorus of LA on stage, unfortunately, it was during the frat boy number I Saw Your Boobs. (Whose sprightly melody I can't get out of my head.)  I don't know what the connection was between the two.  Mercifully, they were on screen just 15 seconds.  And Although I'm not certain, I believe they may also have provided background vocals for Adele later in the telecast. 

 

Gaymenschorus_losangeles_academyawards 

 

  • Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum did a very nice Astaire/Rogers dance number at the beginning of the show, performed to The Way You Look Tonight.  And Catherine Zeta Jones killed during her All That Jazz number. 

 

Charlizetheron_tatumchanning

 

  • Beards (the facial hair type) were the look for men as evidenced by Ben Affleck, Hugh Jackman, Jean Dujardin, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Bryan Cranston, Chris Pine, Justin Theroux and Ann Hathaway's husband.  (I lost count at ten.)

 

Beards_2013_academyawards

 

  • Melissa McCarthy's and Paul Rudd's banter fell embarrassingly flat (and like last year, her gown resembled a shapeless sack); Daniel Radcliffe and Kristin Stewart had no chemistry whatsoever; the usually stunning Nicole Kidman looked a bit wilted; and Rene Zelwegger looked uncomfortable when she appeared on stage with her fellow cast members from Chicago.

 

Paul_rudd_melissa_mccarthy  

 

  • Thankfully, 75-year-old Jane Fonda looked incredible because her gown was bound to draw attention due to its canary-yellow color.  And co-presenter, Michael Douglas (68 years old), also looked great.

 

Janefonda_michaeldouglas

 

In closing, one thing I'll say in Seth MacFarlane's favor is that he has a very nice speaking and singing voice.

 

Seth_macflarane_oscars

To read my comments from last year's Oscar telecast, double click here.

 

 

 

 


Barbra Streisand Appears on Judy Garland's Variety Show (October 6, 1963)

Barbra_and_judy The Judy Garland Show debuted on September 29, 1963 as part of CBS' Sunday night schedule and aired for just one season.  For the show's second telecast, which aired on October 6, Judy had as one of her guests 21-year-old Barbra Streisand, a singer taking the entertainment world by storm.  This would be the only time the two shared a stage together.  Babs' appearance was four months before she made her Broadway debut in Funny Girl

 

Judygarlandshow  

 

Barbra_judy_ethel In a classic TV moment, Barbra and Judy sang a stunning duet of Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy and another with the theme "Hooray for Love".  Barbra also sang Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered.  Later in the show they were joined by legendary Broadway belter Ethel Merman.  This telecast was truly every queen's wet dream.

 

 

 

 

 


How Gay Are You? A Checklist to Review

Test.your.knowledgeSo you're attracted to men, but how "gay" are you really?  It's more than just what you do between the sheets.  To help you determine the degree of your gayness, I've drawn up a check list of what you need to know or do, at minimum, to be a card-carrying, rainbow-flag-flying homo in good standing ...

 

 

  • It's an absolute must that you know the correct spelling of Barbra's, Liza's and Katharine Hepburn's first names.

 

Liza

 

  • Upon hearing the opening notes of Dancing Queen you stop what you're doing and rush onto the dance floor (bonus points for squealing with delight).
  • T-shirts or polo shirts should fit snugly.  Being able to see a slight impression of your nipples through the fabric is the aim.  Remember, fit takes precedence over comfort.
  • If you walk into the middle of a conversation in which your friends are chatting about pitchers and catchers, don't be discouraged if you're not a sports fan because chances are they're not talking about baseball.

 

Catcher-tshirt

 

  • Vanity Fair is preferred over People.
  • You're able to while away the hours with your friends thinking up drag names (without using the formula that's largely for the amusement of heterosexuals).  Sipping a cocktail or two enhances the experience.
  • You put considerable thought into what you're going to wear at the gym, including briefs, which are important for your locker room striptease.  Lastly, a stylish gym bag is de rigueur.

 

Guys_at_gym

 

  • Upon hearing the name Adam Sandler your facial expression involuntarily becomes one of disdain.
  • You have far too much style and creativity to wear a t-shirt that merely says "Abercrombie & Fitch" or "JP Morgan Corporate Challenge".
  • You can recite at least one line of dialogue from each of the following movies: The Women; All About Eve; Auntie Mame; Valley of the Dolls; and Mommie Dearest.

 

All_about_eve

 

  • You know the U.S. states in which same-sex marriage is legal.
  • Give Sondheim a listen.  Like nipple play, his work is an acquired taste - but it can be very satisfying.
  • Rather than "What would Jesus do?" you ask "What would Martha do?

 

Martha.stewart2 

 

  • You don't put "clothes" on, you put on an "outfit".
  • You're familiar with the following acronyms: HRC, LLDEF, BDSM, PFLAG, AMFAR, CBT, GLAAD, VGL.
  • Finally, Brazilians = TROUBLE

 

Brazilian_men        


The LGBT "Where Are They Now?" Hall of Fame

Where.are.they.nowThis is a follow-up to an earlier post I wrote on the whereabouts of gay and lesbian personalities who enjoyed some time in the limelight.  (The first post, "Whatever Happened To ...?" was published in the summer of 2012.)  It's not that the careers of these twelve individuals are over, it's just that their peak years of fame were five, ten, even fifteeen years ago.

 

BOBBY RIVERS

Bobby was a VJ on VH-1 in the late 1980s at the same time as gay counterparts Rosie O'Donnell and Carol Leifer.  Later on the same network he hosted a celebrity interview show titled Watch Bobby Rivers.  From there he went on to do local TV in the New York market and then had a show on the Food Network.  Since then his career has diminished somewhat.  On VH-1 I remember him as being funny, cheerful and a fount of pop culture knowledge - and having a megawatt smile.  (I follow him on Twitter at @BobbyRiversTV.)

 

Bobby_rivers    

 

STEVE KMETKO

Kmetko rose to prominence on the E! cable network as an entertainment correspondent and for a brief time he and Olympic diver Greg Louganis were an item.  Handsome in a Brian Williams (NBC anchorman) meets Hollywood kind of way, Kmetko is now a nicely weathered 60.  According to his Wikipedia bio he now works with celebrities on how to comport themselves during interviews with the press.

 

Steve_kmetko

 

JASON GOULD

He's the 46-year-old son of Barbra Streisand and Eliott Gould.  In 2000 he wrote and starred in a film short, Boys Life 3, in which he played the son of a celebrity who comes out.  He's now more into writing and producing than acting.  Although a private person, he was open about the fact that he is HIV+.  He may make some headlines if a rumored tell-all about life with Babs (apparently he's had a strained relationship with her) comes to pass.

 

Jason_gould     

 

HAL SPARKS

What makes Hal Sparks unique for this list is that he's straight, but he convincingly played one of the gay leads in Showtime's Queer as Folk - the adorable, put upon Michael Novotny.  Although that's what put him in the gay spotlight he was busy in showbiz long before and has been busy ever since QAF.  He turns 45 in September (2014).

 

Hal_sparks   

 

PHRANC

Phranc is a lesbian musician whose signature crewcut gave her the look of a cute teen boy - or a clone of kd lang.  According to Phranc's Wikipedia bio she now splits her time between arts and crafts projects and selling Tupperware.  Turning 57 in August (2014), she's lost her boyish allure and now looks more like one of your dad's grizzled drinking buddies from the auto repair shop.

 

Phranc_young

 

Phranc_old 

 

URVASHI VAID

A whip-smart lawyer, activist and former  executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, she was often the go-to person for TV and newspaper interviews about gay issues.  She's the longtime partner of comic Kate Clinton and is 55 years old.

 

Urvashi_vaid 

 

LEA DELARIA

She's a bigger than life stand-up comic, actress and jazz singer.  I saw her in a revival of On the Town in 1997 where she played the cab driver Hildy - it's the only Broadway show I ever left at intermission (but not necessarily because of her).  She also appeared in the Broadway version of Rocky Horror Picture Show (with another "Where Are They?" alum, Sebastian La Cause).  She's 55.  (Update: Delaria has a role in the Netflix hit Orange is the New Black.)

 

 

Lee_delaria2

 

BOB PARIS & ROD JACKSON

They were the "it" couple during the first half of the 1990s until they broke up.  Paris was a former bodybuilding champion.  Looking back it was pretty amazing that they were so public about their relationship.  (For some they may have been too perfect.)  Bob (pictured on the left, aka "the hot one") is 54 and lives in Vancouver where he writes, does motivational speaking and some occasional acting.  Very little is known about Rod except that he keeps a low profile in LA.

 

Bobparis_rodjackson 

 

CAMILLE PAGLIA

Irascible professor, author, social commentator and admirer of Madonna, Paglia was known for putting feminism through the wringer with her contrarian opinions.  She also wrote a column for the Advocate for a number of years.  Her prickly personality may have played a role in her fading from the spotlight.  She's 66.

 

Camille_paglia  

 

ISAAC MIZRAHI

Mizrahi is a fashion designer who was the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary in 1995 titled Unzipped (which picked up Best Documentary nods at Cannes and Sundance).  He also had a very successful licensing arrangement with Target.  However, he followed Target with a stint at Liz Claiborne, but that was a short-lived disaster.  Since then he's had a TV presence but his profile isn't quite what it was 10 years ago.  He's 52, one year older than Marc Jacobs.

 

Isaac_mizrahi       

 

TR KNIGHT

Knight has more of a theatrical pedigree but is best known for his five years on Grey's Anatomy.  During his time on the show he was outed in the aftermath of a controversy whereby fellow GA costar Isaiah Washington called him a "faggot" during an argument on the set.  Knight then formally came out in an article in People Magazine.  A few years ago he co-starred with Patrick Stewart on Broadway in David Mamet's A Life in the Theatre.  He's now 40.

 

Trknight  

 

DANNY PINATAURO

A child star in the 1980s ABC popular sitcom Who's the Boss?, Pinatauro had the good fortune of working with gay favorite Judith Light.  He came out in an interview with the National Enquirer in the late '90's.  He's now 37 and is a cuter version of Ryan Seacrest.  Like Phranc, Wikipedia reports that he now sells Tupperware.

 

Young_danny_pintauro

 

Adult_danny_pintauro 

 

JASON COLLINS 

An NBA player for the Washington Wizards, Collins made headlines in April 2013 when he became the first athlete from a major sports league to come out.  However, much like a quasar, it seemed his time in the spotlight was all too brief.  Collins' contract was up and he wasn't picked up by another team.  Perhaps it was due to his age (35), but others speculated that being openly gay was too much for any team to deal with.  (Update: In Feb. 2014 Collins was picked up by the New Jersey Nets.)

 

Jason.collins

 


Barbra Streisand Makes Her First TV Appearance (April 5, 1961)

Barbra_streisand_jackpaar 19-year-old Barbra Streisand made her first TV appearance on April 5, 1961 on Jack Paar's Tonight Show.  However, Paar wasn't hosting that night.  Filling in for him was actor and humorist Orson Bean, who was responsible for inviting Streisand on the show.  She performed two songs composed by Harold Arlen, Sleepin' Bee (co-written with Truman Capote) and When the Sun Comes Out.  Two other guests on the show that night were Phyllis Diller and Gore Vidal.  (Later that month another big event in gay circles would be Judy Garland's acclaimed concert at Carnegie Hall.)


Barbra Streisand's Second TV Special, "Color Me Barbra", Airs (March 30, 1966)

Barbra_streisand_colormebarbara One year after her first acclaimed TV special, titled My Name is Barbra, 23-year old Barbra Streisand starred in her second CBS special.  Coinciding with the release of her new album by the same name, Color Me Barbra was filmed largely at the Philadelphia Museum of Art over one weekend during off-hours.  A big difference from the first special was that this one was in color. 

 

Color_me_barbra_1966 I finally got around to watching the telecast when I rented it during the winter of 2007.  I was especially enchanted by the opening song, Draw Me a Circle, which I'd never heard before - and I immediatedly bought it on iTunes.  (However, it wasn't a track from Color Me Barbra, but an earlier album). 

 

 

 

 

This special and four others is available on Barbra Streisand: The Specials and the CD Color Me Barbra is available on Amazon.   Here's another great segment from the special.   

 

 


Barbra Streisand Makes Her Broadway Debut (March 22, 1962)

Wholesale_streisand Barbra Streisand, one month shy of her 20th birthday, made her Broadway debut in a supporting role in the musical I Can Get It for You Wholesale, which opened on March 22, 1962.  Originally the part of Miss Marmelstein was a minimal one, but after her audition the producers beefed it up.  The show starred Elliot Gould, who would become her first husband (who she had her only child with, gay son Jason). 

 

 

Streisand_time_magazine_coverAt the show's premiere Leonard Bernstein gave Streisand a standing ovation after her number Miss Marmelstein.  The following month she was the subject of a TIME Magazine cover story.  And although the show received mixed reviews Streisand was nominated for a Tony for Supporting or Featured Musical Actress - the show's only nomination (she lost to Phyllis Newman for the show Subways Are for Sleeping).

 

 

 

Interestingly, Babs would appear on Broadway just one more time, in Funny Girl which premiered almost two years to the date after Wholesale.