Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tom Tryon

actor and author

American film, stage and television actor Thomas Tryon (1926-91) was best known for his portrayal of an ambitious Catholic priest in the film The Cardinal (1963 - photo at end of post), for which he received a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor (Motion Picture Drama). He also appeared in two epic films about World War II, The Longest Day (1962) and In Harm's Way (1965). His television career was centered around roles in westerns.

Although he had been married for three years during the 1950s, by the 1970s Tryon was in a romantic relationship with Clive Clerk, one of the original cast members of the Broadway sensation, A Chorus Line. Clerk was also an interior designer, and the apartment he decorated for Tryon on Central Park West in New York City was featured in Architectural Digest. Tryon was also involved in a relationship with Cal Culver, also known as Casey Donovan, a famous gay porn star (see photo below). Culver’s best known film, Boys in the Sand, is a classic of the genre.

Disillusioned with Hollywood, Tryon retired from acting in 1969 and began a successful second career as a writer. His most popular novel was Crowned Heads (1987), a collection of four novellas inspired by Hollywood legends. The first of these novellas, Fedora, about a reclusive former film actress whose relationship with her plastic surgeon is similar to that between a drug addict and her pusher, was later filmed by Billy Wilder. It is considered to be a minor classic of the thriller/horror genres. Other novellas in the collection were based on the murder of former gay silent screen star Ramón Novarro, and the quasi-Oedipal relationship between gay actor Clifton Webb and his mother.

Another popular book was The Other (1971), an influential psychological horror novel about personality transference between twins. It was made into a film about a boy whose evil twin brother may or may not be responsible for a series of deaths in a small rural community set in the 1930s. A later novel, Lady, written in 1975, concerns the friendship between an eight-year-old boy and a charming widow in 1930s New England and the secret he discovers about her.


  1. Tom Tryon was a guest of a friend of mine in our 'secret' dues paying private Gay club in NYC.
    I was a pretty good pool shooter in the 70's when Tom and a few others stood around the pool table watching me shoot "straight-pool" for $50.00 a game.
    When I bent down to take aim and make a shot, Tom was right behind me and I unintentionally hit him in the crouch with the back end of the handle of my cue-stick. He said: "Hey, watch it" and I told him to: "Move your ass next time"...He laughed and so did I, and I never saw him again.
    Oh, I did hear him say that he had just returned from Jamaica where he was a house guest in Noel Cowards "Firefly" home.

  2. I liked Tom Tryon very much. He was a great actor, I will never forget him. Alejandro Lepe G. from Chile.

  3. I began reading Thomas Tryon at age 12. Junior high was both a bore and a breeze; I spent all my free time reading. The year before, age 11, my reading list included The Great Gatsby and Helter Skelter. Back to Tryon. I was in Mrs. Libby's sewing class, my assignment complete, when I picked up The Other. Ada and Niles are in the cemeteryear, where Ada is forced to make her beloved grandson see the truth. My shock at this revelaction was so great I dropped my book. Brilliant use of sunspense.
    I was never able to catch the movie's tv re-runs, so waited years to see. Although Tryon was not happy with the final pŕint, I, the amateur hold the film in highest regard. I feel it is the perfect realization of the novel.