Tag Archives: Biography

Hope Lange–Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, v. 7 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006), p. 323-324

Hope Lange [DRAFT]

Lange, Hope (b. 28 November 1933 in West Redding, Connecticut; d. 19 December 2003 in Santa Monica, California), Emmy Award-winning actress, Academy Award nominee and humanitarian.

Hope Elise Ross Lange was the second of four children, and the cousin of Dorothea Lange, the photographer. Lange’s father, Lange, worked as a cellist, composer and music arranger for Florenz Ziegfeld while her mother, Minette von Buddecke Lange, was an actress and, later, a restaurateur.

John Lange worked in New York City so the family moved to Greenwich Village. When John died in 1942, Minnette opened a restaurant on MacDougal Street, “Minnette of Washington Square.” The restaurant became a center for the artistic community as Minnette fed struggling performers in return for their performing in the restaurant.

Lange made her acting debut at the age of 9 in the production of The Patriots (1943) at the National Theatre in New York City. At 14, Lange studied dance with Martha Graham. While attending Lodge High School, Lange modeled. Her lithe, naturally athletic figure and blond hair made her an excellent subject. Lange went to college for two years, first at Reed College in Portland, Oregon and then at Barmore Junior College in New York City.

It was at Barmore that Lange met her first husband, actor Don Murray. Lange never took her acting career seriously until she met Murray. Murray got Lange an understudy job in the play, The Hot Corner (1956) in which he starred. Lange’s break came in the Kraft Television Theatre episode “Snapfinger Creek” (1956). Director Josh Logan saw her and cast her in Bus Stop (1956) with Murray and Marilyn Monroe.

Murray and Lange were married on 16 April 1956 in a municipal court ceremony. Though raised a Christian Scientist, Lange never accepted all of its tenets but remained a spiritual person throughout her life.

Murray, a conscientious objector, became involved with homeless refugees in Italy when he was sent there during the Korean War. The refugees, from the Iron Curtain countries and Spain, were kept in prison camp-like conditions. They could not easily assimilate because of illiteracy, infirmities and/or disabilities. Determined to help, Lange and Murray joined with Belden Paulson in founding the Homeless European Land Program (HELP). HELP set up a free community for the refugees on the island of Sardinia. HELP served as a model for the United Nations for resettlement of refugees and it also influenced the creation of the Peace Corps.

Lange and Murray performed two benefits for HELP: a Playhouse 90 episode, “For I Have Loved Strangers” (1957) and an episode of This is Your Life honoring Paulson. The Playhouse 90 benefit was sabotaged by CBS executives who refused to air the phone number for donations, so Lange and Murray donated their salaries from the performance.

Lange achieved critical acclaim in Peyton Place (1957). She played Selena Cross, a teenager from the wrong side of the tracks who was raped by her stepfather and accused of his murder. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Their first child, Christopher Paton, was born in 1957. Lange and Christopher accompanied Murray to Ireland while he filmed A Hatful of Rain. Their daughter, Patricia Elda, was born there in 1958. Lange starred in The Young Lions (1958) and The Best of Everything (1959). During this time, Lange and Murray lived in Beverly Hills in a sparsely furnished home. From 1956 to 1958, Lange donated most of her salary to HELP.

Lange and Murray divorced 7 July 1961. She moved to Westwood with the children. On 19 October 1963, Lange married Alan J. Pakula and moved to Brentwood. Lange retired from acting.

While at a cocktail party, Lange heard about a new television series. NBC needed someone to play a widow raising two children and working as a writer who is haunted by a sea captain’s ghost. Lange agreed to read the script—and fell in love with the part. For her portrayal of Carolyn Muir in the television sitcom The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1968-1970), Lange won two Emmys. She also became close friends with co-star Charles Nelson Reilly.

Lange managed to keep former suitors and ex-husbands as friends long after the romances had ended. Regular visitors to her home included Reilly, Katherine Bard, Martin Manulis, Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner, Christopher Isherwood, Mike Nichols, Glenn Ford and Lawrence Turman.

Pakula and Lange divorced in 1971. That same year, Lange became a regular on The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971-1974), playing Jenny Preston. She starred in Death Wish (1974). Lange performed on Broadway in Same Time, Next Year (1977) with Murray and The Supporting Cast (1981). Lange starred with Murray and her son in I Am the Cheese (1983).

Lange married her third husband, Broadway producer Charles Hollerith, Jr. on 29 January 1986. They split their time between California and Michigan, where Hollerith had a summer home, as well as New York City. Lange had maintained a permanent residence in Manhatttan for several years, the last being an apartment on the Upper East Side.

Lange continued to act, making guest appearances on television and playing small movie parts. In December 1988, Hollerith produced A Christmas Carol to benefit the Actor’s Fund of America, directed by Brother Rick Curry and starring Lange. Lange became friends with Curry and discovered his National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped (NTWH). Lange made regular appearances at benefits for the NTWH. Lange was also known to send money to people she had heard about who had fallen on hard times.

In December 2003, Lange was admitted to St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica for diverticulitis. Post-operation, Lange caught an infection in the hospital and died. Her body was cremated according to her will. However, Lange made no provision for the disposal of her ashes, so they were given to her son Christopher. Because Lange liked Camden, Maine, where Peyton Place was filmed, plans to bury her there fell through. The chapel on the NTWH campus, located in Belfast up the coast from Camden, is in the building that served as the high school in Peyton Place. There are plans to bury Lange’s ashes under the altar and rename it “The Hope Chapel” in Lange’s honor.

Hope Lange’s acting career spanned decades. Her striking good looks and seemingly reserved nature belied a great sense of humor and a quick wit that endeared her to those who knew her. Lange valued friendship and always had visitors, stars and everyday people to her home.

Perhaps Lange’s legacy lies not in the films, television series and plays in which she starred, but what effect her actions had on the world around her. HELP allowed refugees to become self-sufficient and better their lives while the NTWH prepares handicapped people for the performing arts. Lange’s Carolyn Muir was a strong, independent woman who worked and raised her children without a man at a time when there were few such role models for women.

There is no biography of Hope Lange. Some articles about Lange have revealed the woman behind the actress. In a 1968 TV Guide article, Robert de Roos interviewed Lange about The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (“Sometimes She’ll Have a Cigar,” 24 October 1968, p. 24-28). A New York Times article by Judy Stone about the series got Lange to discuss her life (“Nothing Haunted about Hope,” 16 February 1969, p. D19). A wonderful tribute to Hope Lange was written by her son, Christopher Murray, in a letter to Equity News (“Final Curtain: Hope Lange,” June 2004, p. 2). The Internet Movie Database has a brief biography and complete filmography of her career (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0486136/). The Internet Broadway Database has a list of her Broadway productions (http://www.ibdb.com/person.asp?id=48909). Her obituary appeared in the New York Times (22 December 2003, p.B7).

Michael W. Handis

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles

Katharine Lee Bates–Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered History in America, v. 1 (New York: Charles Scribners’ Sons, 2003), p. 121-122

Katharine Lee Bates [DRAFT]

Bates, Katharine Lee (b. 12 August 1859; d. 28 March 1929), poet, author and educator. Perhaps best known as the author of the poem “America the Beautiful,” which was later set to music. She was inspired to write the poem while enjoying the view from Pikes Peak in Colorado. Filled with female imagery, “America the Beautiful” symbolized for many the positive and idealistic aspects of America. A movement to adopt the song as the United States national anthem was defeated in 1931 when Congress chose “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, she was the daughter of William Bates, a Congregationalist minister, and Cornelia Frances Lee Bates, a woman educated at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. One of four children, Bates’ parents valued education, and Katharine was their brightest child. Bates received an excellent education at a time when education for women beginning. Educated at Wellesley College, Bates later attended Oxford University in preparation for her Masters degree.

Founded in 1875, Wellesley College was for women. Henry Durant, Wellesley’s founder, firmly believed in women’s abilities, and he only hired female faculty for his women’s college. In 1886 Bates was hired at Wellesley and later became head of the English department. Besides poetry, Bates wrote textbooks, travel books, and children’s books. Among her many publications are: The College Beautiful and Other Poems (1887); English Religious Drama (1893); The Pilgrim Ship (1926); and America the Beautiful and Other Poems (1911).

It was at Wellesley that Bates met Katharine Coman (1857-1915). Coman was a professor of history and political economy. She reorganized the department of economics while at Wellesley and was a published author in her own right. Coman, a social activist, helped found settlement houses, assisted African Americans, immigrants and freehold farmers. Bates and Coman began their relationship in 1890 and lived together for 25 years. Coman died in 1915.

Bates and Coman’s relationship typify the type of female relationships embraced by the upper class and academic America during the nineteenth century. “Romantic friendships” or “Boston marriages” were considered quite normal and even necessary for women. Close, personal, romantic relationships between women were seen as a way to bolster their roles as wives and mothers. The notion of two women having sex in such a relationship was not acknowledged and generally dismissed by nineteenth century society. (The term “lesbian” was not used until the twentieth century.) Other women in “Boston marriages” that were friends of Bates and Coman include Vida Scudder—another member of the Wellesley English department—and Florence Converse, and Jeanette Marks and Mary Emma Woolley. Because so many Wellesley faculty, like Bates and Coman, were in “Boston marriages” the relationships were referred to as “Wellesley marriages” at the college.

Fiction did not ignore “Boston marriages.” Henry James’ novel, The Bostonians (1885), dealt with the two female protagonists entering into such a relationship and being happy. Sadly, one woman opts for a “normal” relationship and marries a man, but James hints at the ending that she will not be happy. James’ own sister Alice was in a “Boston marriage” with history teacher Katharine Loring until her death. Friends of James and Loring, author Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Adams Fields, were also in a committed relationship. Jewett’s novel Deephaven (1877) dealt with the importance of female relationships.

There is no doubt that Bates and Coman were dedicated to one another spiritually, psychologically and emotionally. Yellow Clover celebrated Bates and Coman’s love and life together, and many of Bates’ letters attest to her intense love of Coman. In one childhood diary entry, Bates admits to liking women better than men, and liking women with full figures better than lean women.

Perhaps the most important point to be made about “Boston marriages” is that the participants were in a monogamous relationship which was a marriage in everything but name. That women could enter into such a living arrangement and become emotionally, psychologically, intellectually, financially—and even sexually—dependent upon each other is amazing considering the narrow roles nineteenth century society defined for women. And these women did it all without needing men. It is speculated that, if living today, many of these couples would identify themselves as lesbians.

Bates retired from teaching in 1925 and became a professor emeritus. She died in 1929. Her Yellow Clover: a Book of Remembrance (1922), a memorial book of 47 sonnets, was dedicated to Coman and privately published after Bates’ death.

Bates and women like her have been reclaimed by lesbian feminists from the pages of history. She is seen as a forebearer to the modern lesbian and gay identity.

See also Literature – 18th and 19th Centuries; Literature – 1890-1969; Colleges and Universities

Michael W. Handis

Bibliography
Burgess, Dorothy. Dream and Deed: the Story of Katharine Lee Bates. Norman: University of Oaklahoma Press, 1952.

Evernden, Margery. “Bates, Katherine Lee (1859-1929).” In Women in World History: a Biographical Encyclopedia, edited by Anne Commire. Volume 2: Ba-Brec. Waterford, CT: Yorkin Publications, 1999.

Faderman, Lillian. Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship & Love between Women from the Renaissance to the Present. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

Improper Bostonians: Lesbian and Gay History from the Puritians to Playland. Compiled by the History Project. Boston: Beacon Press, 1998.

The Bates Papers. Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachussetts.

Schwarz, Judith. “Yellow Clover: Katharine Lee Bates and Katharine Coman.” Frontiers 4, no. 1 (1979): 59-67.

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles

Miguel Piñero–Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered History in America, v. 2 (New York: Charles Scribners’ Sons, 2003), p. 387-388

Miguel Piñero [DRAFT]

Piñero, Miguel (b. 19 December 1946; d. 16 June 1988), poet, playwright, actor.

Born in Puerto Rico, Piñero migrated to New York City with his family as a child. One of seven children, Piñero was seven when his father walked out on his mother.

Life was hard for Piñero. Growing up poor on the streets of New York and suffering from sexual abuse, he turned to drugs and became a mugger, thief and shoplifter. Piñero later spent five years in Sing Sing for armed robbery. It was here that he met Marvin Felix Camillo, who was running a drama workshop.

The talented people Camillo found at Sing Sing would later become The Family, an acting troupe of ex-cons of whom Piñero was the most successful. Camillo and Piñero became friends and it was Camillo who submitted Piñero’s poem, “Black Woman with the Blonde Wig On,” in a contest which it won.

Piñero’s first and most successful play was Short Eyes. Short Eyes tells the story of men trapped in a prison system with its own code of conduct and laws, and how they survive. The climax of the play is the murder of Clark Davis, the incarcerated child molester. In the prison hierarchy, sexual offenders are considered the lowest of the low, and Clark’s death is carried out with brutal efficiency. The character Cupcakes, youthful and handsome, is the prize desired by the love-starved men.

Short Eyes opened on May 23, 1974 and was produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival, with Joseph Papp as producer and Camillo directing. Many of the cast was members of The Family. Short Eyes won the Obie for the best play of 1973-1974, and Camillo won for distinguished direction. That same year, Short Eyes won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best American play.

Piñero became friends with Miguel Algarin, another Nuyorican poet. Together they founded the Nuyorican Poets Café on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The marginalization of poor people of color, excluded from the mainstream American artistic community served the political focus for their creative voices. The Nuyorican Poets Café was born of the political radicalism of the 1960s, and the café has served as a laboratory for cultural and political art. Piñero’s poetry influenced many other artists. Piñero is cited as being a forerunner to rap and hip-hop music. In 1993, the Nuyorican Poets Café was recognized by the Municipal Society of New York as one of the “living treasures” of the city. It is still at the heart of poetic life in New York City.

Many of Piñero’s characters blurr the line between gay and straight. Paper Toilet takes place in a subway toilet and deals in part with characters cruising. Irving deals with the coming out of a closeted Jewish man—and the discovery that he and his sister have been dating the same man.

Piñero was a commercial success, writing plays and television scripts for series like Kojak and Miami Vice. He also starred in television episodes of Miami Vice and The Equalizer as well as movies, among them The Streets of L.A. (1979), Fort Apache the Bronx (1981), Breathless (1984) In the movie adaptation of Short Eyes (1977), Piñero played the minor character of Go-Go.

Even with all his success, Piñero remained a heroin addict. (He used to scalp tickets to Short Eyes for money with which to buy heroin.) He continued an on-and-off life of crime, and was arrested periodically. Piñero died in New York City from liver disease in 1988. His friend Algarin led the procession in which Piñero’s ashes were scattered across the Lower East Side. He then read Piñero’s poem that was written for the occasion of his death.

Miguel Piñero was bisexual. Many of the characters in his plays were sexually ambiguous. However, it is doubtful that he identified in any way with the gay and lesbian community. The Latin idea of machismo (super-masculinity), what every man aspires to be, may have caused tension in Piñero’s life. The idea of being passive during sex challenges masculinity. Gay identity takes into account both roles—something which Piñero might have found objectionable.

Perhaps actor Benjamin Bratt’s assessment of Piñero is the most realistic. Bratt played the complex Piñero in Piñero and concluded that Piñero was a sensualist: Piñero would indulge in whatever felt good to him at that particular moment. To be labeled gay or bisexual would have had little meaning to Piñero.

There is no full-length biography of Piñero. The 2001 movie is based on Miguel Piñero’s life. Actor Dadi Piñero is his brother.

Michael W. Handis

See also Latino Studies; Migration, Immigration, and Diaspora; Gloria Anzaldua; Jose Sarria; Reinaldo Arenas; Cherrie Moraga; Syliva Rivera; John Rechy; Race and Racism; Puerto Rico; Edgar Poma; Rodrigo Reyes; Francisco Alarcon; Arturo Islas; Juanita Diaz-Cotto; Jeanne Cordova; Zulma; Valerie Solanas.

Bibliography

Duralde, Alonso. “Unspoiled Bratt.” The Advocate 2/5/2002, issue 858, p. 40-45.

Piñero, Miguel. Outrageous: One Act Plays. Houston: Arte Publico Press, 1986.

Piñero, Miguel. Short Eyes: a Play. New York: Hill and Wang, 1975.

Piñero. Miramax Films and Greenwood Films. 2001.

Cruz-Malave, Arnaldo. “Teaching Puerto Rican Authors: Identity and Modernization in Nyorican Texts.” ADE Bulletin, 91 (1988): 45-51.

Cruz-Malave, Arnaldo. “Toward an Art of Transvestism: Colonialism and Homosexuality in Puerto Rican Literature.” Bergmann and Smith, 137-67.

Cruz-Malave, Arnaldo. “’What a Tangled Web!’: Masculinity, Abjection, and the Foundations of Puerto Rican Literature in the United States.” Differences: a Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 8.1 (1996): 132-151.

Mohr, Eugene. The Nuyorican Experience: Literature of the Puerto Rican Minoirty. Westport: Greenwood, 1982.

Nuyroican Poets Café web site, http://www.nuyorican.org/. (Checked April 28, 2003).

Zimmerman, Marc. U.S. Latino Literature: an Essay and Annotated Bibliography. Chicago: March/Arbazo, 1992.

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles

Randy Burns–Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered History in America, v. 1 (New York: Charles Scribners’ Sons, 2003), p. 175

Randy Burns [DRAFT]

Burns, Randy (b. mid- 20th century), Native American activist and writer.

A Northern Paiute, Burns is a member of the Pyramid Lake Indian Tribe. While a student at San Francisco State University, Burns became an activist: he attempted to recruit Native American students to come to SFSU. While still at SFSU, Burns came out as a gay activist during an interview for the Nevada State Journal. He has subsequently been interviewed by a variety of West Coast gay and lesbian journals and newspapers. He has written various essays and introductions to books, among them Living the Spirit: a Gay American Indian Anthology and Third and Fourth Genders in Native North Americans. Burns plans to publish a book of his own literary work called You Never Heard Me Sing.

Burns has served in a variety of San Francisco government advisory groups and social programs. He is a member of the People of Color AIDS and the Human Rights Commission. A firm believer in electoral politics, Burns has served as an election official for over two decades. He also volunteers his time with numerous nonprofit organizations and programs focused on Native Americans in the San Francisco area.

Burns found gay and lesbian Native Americans ostracized or even bashed for their orientation. Historically, every member of a Native American tribe had a specific role to play; no one was shunned or ostracized for being different. People with ambiguous sexual orientations were no different. Sometimes called “Two-Spirit People,” these men and women served in a variety of roles, from leaders, shamans, healers, and—in the case of women—as warriors. The Spanish wrote about the “Two-Spirit People,” from whom English derived the word berdache (“transvestites’). Being both male and female, berdaches were said to have links with the spiritual world and therefore were able to mediate between that world and the physical. They played important roles in many Native American societies.

With the conquest of the Americas by the Europeans, an attempt was made to “civilize” Native Americans, make them like the Europeans. Whole cultural assimilation was imposed; Judeo-Christian values and religion—including the taboos against homosexuality—became the emblem of “civilization.” Traditional Native American religions and rituals were repressed, and—completely misconstruing who the berdache were and devaluing the functions the berdache played in Native American society—the Europeans linked the berdaches to the sins of sodomy and homosexuality As a result, the berdache suffered severe persecution. Many Native American apologists, in an attempt to mitigate the European attack on Native American culture and identity, diminished the role of the berdache in tribal life and ceremonies, some even suggesting that berdaches were outcasts and scorned by their communities. Though the Native American cultures resisted the assimilating influences, the role the berdache played in many societies was diminished.

Having seen violence committed by Native Americans against their gay and lesbian brethren, Burns sought to remind Native Americans of the berdache heritage and to show people that gay and lesbian Native Americans deserve cultural respect based on history. He co-founded Gay American Indians (GAI) with the late Barbara Cameron of the Lakota tribe in San Francisco in July of 1975. In Burns’ view, modern gay and lesbian Native Americans are the direct descendants of the historic berdache; it is their duty to fulfill the roles the berdache once played in the traditions of their tribes.

By the end of the twentieth century, GAI had grown to over 600 members and spawned other gay American Indian groups in San Diego, Toronto and New York City under the name “Two-Spirit People.” GAI has documented berdache roles in over 130 Native American tribes. Burns’ own Northern Paiute tradition has traditional berdache roles: tuva’sa (male) moroni noho (female).

Burns has been given numerous awards over the years, most recently the Pioneer Award from the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian History Society in 2002. Until recently, Burns worked as a nurse assistant at San Francisco General Hospital.

Michael W. Handis

See also Native American LGBTQ Organizations and Publications

Bibliography

KQED web site (http://www.kqed.org/topics/history/heritage/lgbt/heroes-rburns.jsp (viewed April 10, 2003).

Living the Spirit: a Gay American Indian Anthology. Compiled by Gay American Indians. Will Roscoe, coordinating editor. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988).

Roscoe, Will. Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.

Trexler, Richard C. Sex and Conquest: Gendered Violence, Political Order, and the European Conquest of the Americas. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1995.

Roscoe, Will. “Bibliography of Berdache and Alternative Gender Roles among the North American Indians.” Journal of Homosexuality 14, no.3/4: 81-171.

Roscoe, Will. “Living the Tradition: Gay American Indians.” In Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning. Edited by Mark Thompson. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987.

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles