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William Haines
(January 2, 1900 - December 26, 1973) U.S.A.

William Haines

Star of silent movies, interior decorator

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Born in Staunton, Virginia, son of the manager of the family tobacco factory, William was the eldest of five children and the self-anointed black sheep of the family. He showed an early predilection for fine clothes, furniture, dancing and practical jokes. At age 14 he ran away from home with "a boyfriend" to Hopwell, Virginia, where the precocious and handsome boy worked in a Dupont factory by day and ran a "dance hall" (which likely doubled as a brothel) by night.

Moving to New York City in 1919, Haines settled in Greenwich Village, where he became an active member of the neighbourhood's gay subculture. While working as a photographer's model, William was discovered during a "New Faces of 1922" contest, sponsored by the Samuel Goldwyn Company.

He was offered a Holliwood film contract with Goldwyn studios, and arrived in Holliwood in March 1922. By 1930 he was a top-ranking box-office male star. William is best known for roles in "The Midnight Express" (1924), "Brown of Harvard" (1926), and "Way Out West" (1930).

In 1926, William Haines met Jimmie Shields as a one-night stand; his relationship with Jimmie Shield became something serious and the two spent the rest of their lives together.

William HainesIn 1933, Haines was caught with a sailor at a Los Angeles YMCA, and arrested on morals charges. Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM Studios, demanded that Haines end his relationship with Shields and marry a woman or his contract would be terminated. Haines chose to stay with Shields, which effectively ended his acting career.

William Haines retired from the screen in 1935. The couple then started careers as interior designers; support from friends like Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson, Ronald Reagan, and other Hollywood icons helped make the endeavor a success. In 1936, after a neighbor accused the men - without any basis - of propositioning his son, a group of about 100 white supremacists dragged the couple from their home and beat them; no charges were ever brought against the attackers.

He lived with Jimmie, his house-husband, for 47 years. They were referred to by their friend Joan Crawford as "The happiest married couple in Hollywood". In 1973, William died in Santa Monica, California, of lung cancer.

Soon after Haines' death, Jimmy took an overdose of sleeping pills and committed sucide. He wrote in his suicide note, "Goodbye to all of you who have tried so hard to comfort me in my loss of William Haines, whom I have been since 1926. I now find it impossible to go it alone, I am much too lonely".

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Sources: http://lgbt-history-archive.tumblr.com/ and alii

Films:

  • Brothers under the skin (1922)
  • Souls for sale (1923)
  • Three wise fools (1923)
  • Three weeks (1924)
  • The gaiety girl (1924)
  • Wine of youth (1924)
  • So this is marriage (1924)
  • The tower of lies (1925)
  • The smart set
  • Tell it to the marines
  • Brown of Harvard
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