Two talented directors share a birthday. I can't help reflect on what a difference it must have made in one man's life to have been in the closet & the other to have been able to be openly & unmistakenly GAY.
The life of Vincente Minnelli, the director of classic MGM musicals like Meet Me in St. Louis, Gigi & An American in Paris, was as peculiar asthe dream ballets that became his trademark. Born Lester Anthony Minnelli in 1903, he grew up the only child in a family of traveling performers in the Midwest. His mother, Mina Mary LaLouche LeBeau, played the ingénue in stock melodramas, while his father, Vincent, conducted the Minnelli Brothers Tent Theater orchestra). In young adulthood, the pathologically shy, stammering Lester, who had had a penchant for trying on his mother’s clothes, read a biography of the flamboyant painter James McNeill Whistler & decided to reinvent himself as a worldly aesthete, working as a window dresser in Chicago before making his name as a designer of lavish theatrical sets in New York. It was there that he became “Vincente.”
Once he moved to Hollywood as a director in MGM’s stable, Minnelli quickly built a reputation as a fearsome perfectionist, despite his passive, retiring personality. A closeted gay man, Minnelli had been known to sport “light makeup” & yet, he married 4 times , most famously, toJudy Garland & he fathered two daughters, including the perpetually re-self-inventing Liza Minnelli.
6’6’’ & Texan, the improbably named-Tommy Tune is an actor/dancer/singer/choreographer/director, & the winner of 9 Tony Awards, the only person in theatrical history to win in 4 different categories & to win the same Tony Award 2 years in a row.
Tommy danced onto the Broadway scene in the chorus of Baker Street in 1965 & hasn't stopped since. I saw him in Michael Bennetts’s Seesaw in 1973, for which he received raves & his first Tony (Best Featured Actor in a Musical). He directed his first show, the off-Broadway production of The Club in 1976. he directed & choreographed The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, A Day in the Hollywood/ A Night in the Ukraine (his 2nd Tony- Best Choreography), Caryl Churchill's Cloud 9, Nine (his 3rd Tony-Best Direction of a Musical), My One & Only (his 4th & 5th Tony-Best Choreography, Best Actor in a Musical). Stepping Out, Grand Hotel (Best Choreography, Best Direction of a Musical), & Will Roger's Follies (Best Choreography, Best Musical).
Tommy Tune has an art gallery in Tribeca . In his 1997 memoir Footnotes, he writes about what drives him as a performer, choreographer & director, offers stories about being openly gay in the world of theatre, his partners David Wolfe & Michael Stuart, about his days with Twiggy in My One & Only & meeting & working with his many idols.
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