Mike Connolly

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 17, 2007 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

I always bring a couple of books to read on the plane. One of my choices for the Houston trip was “The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson – The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson” by Robert Hofler.

Like some men are described as “womanizers.” Henry Willson, a famous or infamous Hollywood agent, was a “manizer.” The book was a chronicle of his repping and relationships with Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Troy Donohue, Rory Calhoun and many other rugged, handsome men and beautiful blond youths.

A close friend and associate of Henry Willson was gay gossip columnist Mike Connolly. “He was your average drunk Irish Catholic queen who was pretty venomous when in his cups and good company outside them,” Gore Vidal quipped.

Mike Connolly was the gossip columnist for the Hollywood Reporter from 1951 until his death in 1966. In 1954, Newsweek described Connolly, who rivaled Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons for reporting Hollywood news and secrets: “It is the forty-year-old, sleepy-eyed Connolly who gets the pick of the trade items, the industry rumors, the policy and casting switches. He has been described as Hollywood’s unofficial arbiter, prosecutor, jury talent scout, trend spotter, and social register.”

Mike Connolly was more than that – he was also the chronicler of the Hollywood homosexual community in the 40s, 50s and 60s, and how they lived their lives in secret and plain sight.

Connolly was politically conservative and ultra patriotic. Some of this had to do with his own Catholic upbringing and college experiences in Chicago and the University of Illinois; but also effectively served to mask his own homosexuality. Sometime in the 1950s, Confidential magazine threatened to expose him, and in order to protect his own reputation, began to feed them anonymous insider gossip on the sexual peccadilloes of the stars.

Connolly merited a book of his own, “Mike Connolly and the Manly Art of Hollywood Gossip” by Val Holley. I have enough time to order it from Amazon or Barnes to make a good beach book for my vacation. I am curious enough to see if he is a tarnished angel like another famous gay Irishman, Eddie Murphy, or something altogether different.

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