(November 11, 1889 - October 13, 1966) U.S.A.
Dancer and actor
Born Webb Parmalee Hollenbeck in Indianapolis, Indiana, and already trained in dance and theater, he quit school at age 13 to study music and painting. By 19 he was a professional ballroom dancer in New York, and by his mid-twenties he was performing in musicals, dramas on Broadway and in London, and in silent movies.
A former child actor, opera singer and dancer, Webb became a major box office star in his late forties and at one time was more popular than Tyrone Power and Gregory Peck. Unmarried, he lived with his mother, Maybelle, a French poodle and a parrot.
After being shunned for years by Hollywood because of his homosexuality, 20th Century Fox's Darryl E. Zanuck was persuaded against his better judgement by Otto Preminger to let Webb co-starr in the 1944 thriller Laura. He was an istant hit, and he received Academy Award nominations.
This first real success, was followed by the part of Elliott Templeton in The Razor's Edge (1946) - which also won him Oscar nominations. His priggish Mr. Belvedere (series) was supposedly not far removed from his real life persona. The recent success of Titanic (1997) created a brief revival of interest due his having played, with Barbara Stanwyck, in a 1953 version of the story.
He died in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, of heart attack, and is interred at Abbey of the Psalms, Hollywood Memorial Cemetery.
His New York Times obituary gives him credit for "having introduced into the American man's wardrobe such items as the white mess coat dinner jacket, the double-breasted vest and the red carnation boutonniere."
Details of his personal life have not been widely reported. Rumors have surfaced that he "helped" some notable younger actors such as James Dean in their quest for stardom.
Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History, from WWII to Present Day, Routledge, London, 2001 - et alii