Category: LGBTQ Cultural History

The four gifted LGBTQ individuals featured in this month’s blog made significant contributions in their respective fields during the first half of the 20th Century.

Dorothy Arzner, a Lesbian, was, from 1927 until her retirement from feature film directing in 1943, the only female feature film director working in Hollywood for the better part of her career.

Julian Eltinge, an American stage and film actor and female impersonator was a star in vaudeville, on Broadway (where a theater was named after him) and became one of the highest paid actors in silent films. 

George Francis Peduzzi, known professionally as Karyl Norman, was also a female impersonator who was popular in vaudeville, nightclubs, on Broadway  and throughout Europe in the 1920s and 30s.

Anna Sosenko. was best known as a songwriter of “Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup,” which she wrote for Hildegarde — the incomparable Hildegarde, which was the name that  Walter Winchell gave her. For 20 years Sosenko, was Hildegarde’s manager and companion and was responsible for turning the “luscious, hazel-eyed Milwaukee blonde who sings the way Garbo looks” into the chanteuse Eleanor Roosevelt  nicknamed the “First Lady of the Supper Clubs.” 

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The Saint - Halloween - WalterFiilm.com

Created for Manhattan’s famous gay disco, The Saint, this stunning poster archive consists of 33 extraordinary pieces and date from 1982 through 2004. The super club (as it was originally designated) opened September 30, 1980 and closed April 30, 1988. However, its spirit, the music and, of course, the dancing and everything that went with it, continues on as The Saint At Large.

These pop-up events included the infamous Black and White Parties and annual Halloween and New Year’s Eve fantasy extravaganzas. As a club, The Saint pushed the limits of the experience and architecture of the discotheque, and its design created an environment for gay men to live openly and find a sense of community. Its importance in New York’s LGBT movement is now recognized by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

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June is Pride Month celebrating our LGBTQ community and its history. In its honor, WalterFilm.com presents six posters of performers and plays that reflect LGBTQ’s diversity and creativity. From Dame Judith Anderson, doyenne of the classical American stage, fulfilling her long-held desire to, at the age of seventy-three, play the title role in Hamlet, to Charles Ludlam’s first playwriting venture, Big Hotel, that became the unofficial manifesto of his Ridiculous Theater Company’s artistic creed, we are to pleased to highlight their courage and contribution.


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Jayne Country Singer

by David Ehrenstein

The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBT) community against a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States. Wikipedia

What followed in the 1970’s was a rising tide of LGBTQ performers that “came out” to express their unique take on music, theater and sexual (transgender) identity. Here are 10 of those performers and a brief look at what they contributed to the movement and to our culture. Click on the image to learn more about the performer.

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WalterFilm.com’s fourth catalog (#45/2020) contains 96 pages that include vintage original photographs, posters, programs, pressbooks, lobby cards and film scripts. The categories encompassed are: Featured, Film Noir, Directors, Poster Art, LGBTQ, Comedy, Women, Literature and African Americana.

The catalog’s cover (above) is the original poster from the play PORGY by Dorothy and Dubois Heyward, which became the source for the opera PORGY AND BESS with book by Dubois Heyward and music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin.

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Liberace - Five Gay Actors in Mid-Century Hollywood

by David Ehrenstein

Now that gay actors like Nathan Lane, Jim Parsons, Victor Garber, Jonathan Groff, and Neil Patrick Harris are “out of the closet” and on the rise, it’s hard to imagine just how different things were in the relatively recent past. Not only was the notion of being openly gay and having a viable career unimaginable, but gayness itself was also a concept polite society couldn’t countenance. “Homosexuals” subsisted on society’s margins, mentioned only in whispered gossip, fearsome psychiatric studies, and Conservative diatribes decrying perversion.

Hiding In Plain Sight

Still, in spite of it all, gay men managed to make their way to very top of the acting profession in the gilded closets of Hollywood. In this covert context, bigtime careers and personal lives proceeded with a calculated risk that can fascinate us today. Here are five of the most noteworthy examples of gay actors in mid-Century Hollywood.

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Walter Film: Items Of LGBTQ Cultural History

Since the Stonewall Riot in June of 1969, there has been a growing interest in LGBTQ social history as is describe here in the Queer History Social Media Project of the Society of American Archivists.

          The Queer History Social Media Project is an initiative aimed at bringing the skills and insights of professional archivists, librarians, historians, and other social scientists involved in the study of LGBTQ history to bear in the improvement and enrichment of Wikipedia articles on topics, individuals, and organizations related to the LGBTQ experience throughout history.

And so, in 2011 – forty-two years after Stonewall –  Walter Reuben Inc. made its first sale  to a major institutional library of relevant items of LGBTQ cultural history, which includes: vintage original star photographs, film and theater posters, lobby cards, film and play scripts, newspaper articles, rare books and advertising or marketing collectibles and LGBTQ memorabilia. The sales continued to be made to an ever growing number of institutions and now Walter Reuben Inc. is an essential resource for material related to LGBTQ Cultural History and Memorabilia.

To view the material we have on our website please click: WalterFilm LGBTQ

LGBTQ items from our 2018 and 2019 Catalogs.


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