It wasn’t readers who made him immortal, but moviegoers. A German art film based on Dracula was released in 1922. A phenomenon was born, and biographers went to find out who Stoker had been.
He’d been somehow sickly as a boy, but pushed himself to be an athletic young man. He married at age 31, and had one child.
To learn about him has been a tug-of-war with the blanks and silences. The first major break was in 1975, when Daniel Farson, a journalist who was Stoker’s grand-nephew, published a biography. It had facts the family hadn’t planned to share.
If the average person knew one thing about Dylan Thomas, it was that Bob Dylan had gotten his ‘Dylan’ from him. To know two things, it’d be that Thomas was a womanizing alcoholic.
There wouldn’t be much talk of his ‘sexuality’—or if he was queer.
Is that because he wasn’t?
Did Nikola Tesla have a sexuality? A 1981 biography, Tesla: Man Out of Time, by Margaret Cheney notes “the pressures upon him to marry were unrelenting” and there were “whispers that he was a homosexual.”
He remains in the mind’s eye a mysterious, future-thinking scientist who is vaguely…asexual?
I’m reading an 1891 newspaper profile of him.
“He is slender in body, nervous in his movements and intense in his application to the mysteries of electricity. His Greek face lights up and his black eyes gleam when he discourses on his favored theme.”
The 2001 biography Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend by Stephen Davis reports that Jim had mentioned the abuse to his lawyer, Max Fink—only revealing it was a man close to his family.
“When Jimmy tried to tell his mother, Fink claimed, she had gotten angry, called him a liar, and insisted such a thing never could have happened. Fink said that Jim began to cry as he told him the story, and claimed Jim had said that he could never forgive his mother for this.”
The Morrison family, Davis notes, denied it.
He wet the bed a lot…
In the 1977 ‘French petition against age of consent laws’, he was a leader in arguing that children are able to consent, and to say—if they had sex—whether it had been rape. So why not legalize it?
As he says in an interview in 1978, “an age barrier laid down by law does not have much sense. Again, the child may be trusted to say whether or not he was subjected to violence.”
Staying at the luxurious Hotel Vendome, he met Tom, a 26-year-old who worked as a bellhop and ran the elevator. Sargent was the type to notice a handsome, muscular man. He hit Tom up to work as a model.
The murals at the museum were to include the gods and goddesses of the classical Greek pantheon. Tom would have to work nude.
And before long—he was posing as Apollo.
It’s not easy to locate the sexuality of Walt Disney. “I don’t think Walt was that much interested in the female sex,” a colleague says.
It’s not easy to locate Mickey’s sexuality either.
He was a lowly cartoonist in Kansas City. “I kept several in a cage on my drawing board and enjoyed watching their antics,” he recalls in 1935. He grows fond of one. “Mortimer gave me the idea to start a series of cartoons with a mouse as the central character. I decided to call him Mickey Mouse.”
In 1888, age 13, he was so excited to decorate his room at boarding school. “I am making my room very pretty & ‘chic’ with lots of silk ‘draperies’,” he writes his mother. “We want it to be the prettiest room in the house.”
He loved silk, especially for his underwear.
The pink silk underwear he wore throughout his life seems not to be mentioned in regular biographies, only in scholarly studies—like Barry Singer’s 2012 book Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill.
Churchill’s wife, we learn, had written to a friend that her husband “was most extravagant about…
We see actors perform him. Dustin Hoffman does in a movie, Lenny, in 1974. In the Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the actor Luke Kirby is celebrated in the role. From the mid-1950s to August 3, 1966, the world saw Lenny Bruce playing it better than anyone. There he was in person, live—but did anyone know much about his reality?
Looking into the different.