Old Hollywood was notorious for its strict social norms and expectations, including its views on sexuality. During the era, it was common for stars to hide their sexuality, especially if they identified as LGBTQ+, in order to maintain their public image and career prospects. One common way of doing this was by entering into fake marriages with members of the opposite sex. Here are some old Hollywood stars who did just that:
Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova: Silent film heartthrob Rudolph Valentino married costume and set designer Natacha Rambova in 1922, but their marriage was highly controversial due to Natacha’s Russian heritage and perceived exoticism. While their relationship was passionate, it was also tumultuous, and they eventually divorced in 1925. Rumors persisted that Valentino was bisexual, and his sexuality was a constant source of speculation and scrutiny.
Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine: Comedian Danny Kaye married songwriter Sylvia Fine in 1940, and the couple remained together until Kaye’s death in 1987. However, it was widely known in Hollywood circles that Kaye was bisexual, and he allegedly had numerous affairs with both men and women throughout his life. Despite this, he and Fine maintained a close personal and professional partnership, with Fine serving as Kaye’s producer and collaborator.
Rock Hudson and Phyllis Gates: Actor Rock Hudson was one of the biggest heartthrobs of the 1950s and 60s, known for his rugged good looks and charming demeanor. In 1955, he married Phyllis Gates, who worked as his secretary. However, their marriage was a sham, and Hudson was actually gay. He remained closeted throughout his career, but his diagnosis with AIDS in the 1980s forced him to come out publicly shortly before his death.
Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli: Legendary actress and singer Judy Garland married director Vincente Minnelli in 1945, and they had one child together before divorcing in 1951. While Garland was known to have relationships with both men and women throughout her life, her marriage to Minnelli was seen as an attempt to boost her image and prove her heterosexuality to the public. Minnelli himself was openly bisexual.
These celebrities were just a few of the many stars who felt compelled to hide their true selves in order to fit into Hollywood’s strict mold. It’s important to recognize the sacrifices they made and the courage it took for them to live in a society that often punished those who deviated from the norm. Fortunately, attitudes towards sexuality have evolved since then, and today’s stars are more free to express themselves and live their lives authentically.