Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Affairs to Remember: Farley Granger Bedded Ava Gardner, Shelley Winters, and Leonard Bernstein. in His Autobiography, Include Me out, Hitchcock's Muse Reveals How He Lived as an Openly Bisexual Actor in Classic Hollywood and Got Away with It

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Affairs to Remember: Farley Granger Bedded Ava Gardner, Shelley Winters, and Leonard Bernstein. in His Autobiography, Include Me out, Hitchcock's Muse Reveals How He Lived as an Openly Bisexual Actor in Classic Hollywood and Got Away with It

Article excerpt

Farley Granger 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 anyone else?

Since starring in two key gay films by Alfred Hitchcock, Rope (1948) and Strangers in a Train (1951t, 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.

It's one 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 married her).

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 kind.

"I have loved men. I have loved women. I will talk with affection and without guilt or remorse about both," he writes matter-of-factly.

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."

His partner, 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 sexuality.

"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.

Granger's 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.

Frustrated with 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 got.'"

Granger's best work definitely happened outside of" Goldwyn's influence, especially when loaned out to Hitchcock. …

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