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Farley Granger: Resented Gay Label But “Lived the Greater Part of My Life with a Man”

Alida Valli, Farley Granger, Senso
Alida Valli, Farley Granger in Luchino Visconti's Senso


A lengthy big-screen hiatus followed, as Farley Granger's on-camera appearances became restricted to television work. He eventually returned to features in the late '60s, almost invariably in European productions. During that time, he was featured in several Euro-Westerns and horror/gialli (mix of violence and sex) productions. Among the Westerns were My Name Is Trinity (1970) and The Man Called Noon (1973); Granger's gialli and horror flicks included Something Is Crawling in the Dark (1971), Amuck (1972), The Red Headed Corpse (1972), and So Sweet, So Dead (1972).

According to the IMDb, Granger's last feature-film role was in P. J. Posner's dramatic comedy The Next Big Thing in 2001.

In addition to his film and TV work, Granger also appeared on Broadway in The Glass Menagerie, The Seagull, The Crucible, and Deathtrap. In 1966, he won an Obie Award for his performance in Lanford Wilson's Off-Broadway play Talley & Son.

In his autobiography, playwright and sometime screenwriter Arthur Laurents, who was Granger's lover at one point, ridicules the actor's well-publicized affair with Shelley Winters.

They had a good time together, and an occasional sexual foray gave their image a little reality. Still, when we double-dated and went to Mocambo, Shelley would table-hop or work the bar and come back with a cute little offering for Farley. If her intention was to do me in, she surely didn't think she was doing herself in as well. She seemed to go along with our pretense that we were not what we were.

Laurents also talks about Granger's “sweetness,” his lack of formal education, his psychoanalysis (because of problems with his homosexuality), and describes Granger's parents as “reactionary bigots he lived with in a small house in the Valley.”

In his own 2007 book of memoirs, Include Me Out: My Life from Goldwyn to Broadway, Granger disputed some of Laurents' claims, remarking that he was never a confused closet case.

“No, I never was.” Granger told The Villager's Jerry Tallmer. “That's why he resents labels,” television producer and Granger's companion (since 1963) Robert Calhoun added. “And 'gay' – in itself, destruction of a perfectly good word – is just another way of saying faggot.”

In addition to being somewhat dismissive of his relationship with Laurents – describing him as “that little guy” and as a “short, energetic man” – in his book Granger also discussed his years with Calhoun, and his relationships with Shelley Winters, Patricia Neal, Leonard Bernstein, and Ava Gardner. (Granger gets nary a mention in Patricia Neal's autobiography, As I Am.)

Regarding Shelley Winters' portrayal in Laurents' autobiography, Granger asserted that Laurents “made up a couple of uncomplimentary things about me and Shelley, in order to get back at Shelley, who'd walked out of one of his shows.” Calhoun added that Granger, then in his mid-20s, had no need to have Winters find him younger guys.

Calhoun died of lung cancer in May 2008.

When asked by the New York Times' Neil Genzlinger, “men or women?” Granger, ever reluctant to be pigeonholed, replied, “That really depends on the person.”

“But,” Genzlinger added, “his follow-up comment left little doubt”:

“I've lived the greater part of my life with a man, so obviously that's the most satisfying to me.”

Source for the Farley Granger-Samuel Goldwyn interchange: A. Scott Berg's Goldwyn.

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5 Comments to Farley Granger: Resented Gay Label But “Lived the Greater Part of My Life with a Man”

  1. Mary Anderson

    It doesn't matter to me who he preferred as a mate or date.

  2. NORM

    I was watching 'Roseanna McCoy' and was attracted to Granger whom I had never, to my knowledge, seen before in a movie. There was a sweetness/vulnerability about him that came thru on the screen and made me want to know more. I googled him and that is when I discovered he was gay. I am gay also and find it interesting I was attracted to him in a movie he made in 1949. He was a nice looking man.

  3. Danny

    Marjorie Gunkler, He's one of my favorites too and being gay isn't a choice by the way.
    His sexuality has nothing to do with how amazing at acting he was. He was very talented.

  4. I don't care about his life choices. He was and always will be one of my favorite actors. God bless him.

  5. Mark

    I don't agree with Farley Granger's take on the G-word, but I can understand his wish not to be labeled this or that.