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William Haines: Born January 2, (1900-1973)

William Haines was Hollywood’s first openly gay leading man.  In many ways he was well ahead of curent cultural norms by being in a well known “Marriage” with his partner of 50 years Jimmie Shields. A leading man, he came into stardom in 1926’s  “Tell it to the Marines” with Lon Chaney and also opposite Jimmy Durante in the ” new adventures of Get Rich Quick Wallingford.  His career came to an end when Louis B. Mayer put a contract in front of him and told him he would only give it to him if he were to stop his openly gay lifestyle and enter into a sham marriage arranged by the studio, Haines replied “I’m already married” and watched Mayer tear up the contract in front of him.   Haines went on to a succesful career as a Interior decorator working (interestingly enough) for some of Hollywoods most consertive icons including Ronald and Nancy Reagan and Frank Sinatra.   Offered a comeback role in 1950’s classic Sunset Boulevard, a 50 year old Haines declined.  Haines & Shields  life unbeknoweth to many has been a basis for many modern hollywood scripts – after a battle with cancer Haines ultimately lost on December 26, 1973 his partner of 50 years quietly took his own life by overdoseing on sleeping pills.  Shields and Haines are both buried side by side at California’s Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery.

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