Sunday, 12 January 2014

Golden Age Gay Gal

"I laughed from the time I arrived at the studio until I left at night. I was almost ashamed to take a paycheck. In 40-odd years in show business, some years I could do no wrong, and some years I could do nothing right. Show business. I owe it everything - it owes me nothing."

The multi-talented Patsy Kelly was a pioneer in the "Golden Age of Hollywood", and in gay history.

Back in 2010, Over at my other blog Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle I penned this tribute to Miss Kelly on the occasion of her centenary:
I admire Miss Kelly mainly for one key aspect that has emerged over the years - her surprisingly candid "out" lesbianism, a lifestyle that was very difficult to maintain in the moralistic society of the 1930s and 40s. At a time when all the major closeted stars in the Hollywood system (such as Barbara Stanwyick, Agnes Moorehead and Marjorie Main) were being "married-off", she proclaimed to anyone who would listen that she was a "dyke" and had a long-term affair with none other than Tallulah Bankhead. Of course, the "scandal" meant she never achieved any top-billing parts in classic Hollywood films - she must have played the maid in more films than anyone else!

However Patsy Kelly went on to earn a healthy living as a character actress and in comedy roles on radio in The Bob Hope Show and on TV in series such as Bonanza and The Untouchables, and later in life returned to the big screen in Rosemary's Baby and Freaky Friday, and to the stage in No, No Nanette. RIP a bold lady and pioneer...

Here she is extolling the virtues of the "Vibrato", which I am certain has more tongue-in-cheek meaning than anyone at the time would have liked to admit:

By way of a footnote, returning to one of Miss Kelly's "final flings" (screenwise, that is) - her role as one of the sinister matriarchs presiding over the birth of Rosemary's Baby - that appearance (albeit fleeting) is lovingly applauded in a rather fab article by Michael Koresky on the Criterion Collection website.

Patsy Kelly (12th January 1910 – 24th September 1981)

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