Henry Willson
American talent agent
Henry Willson
Henry Willson was an American Hollywood talent agent who played a large role in popularizing the beefcake craze of the 1950s. He was known for his stable of young, attractive clients, including Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Robert Wagner, Nick Adams, Guy Madison, Troy Donahue, Rory Calhoun, Clint Walker, Doug McClure, Ty Hardin, and Chad Everett. He discovered Rhonda Fleming walking to Beverly Hills High School, brought her to David O.
Biography
Henry Willson's personal information overview.
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Photo Albums
Popular photos of Henry Willson
News
News abour Henry Willson from around the web
Escándalos que casi acaban carreras - JetSet.com.co
Google News - over 5 years
Sin embargo, su agente Henry Willson sacó cuentas y concluyó que era mejor venderle a la hambrienta publicación la primicia de la homosexualidad de Nader, quien le resultaba menos rentable. El escándalo estalló y, por supuesto, marcó el fin del
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Google News article
Appreciation: Arthur Laurents - Variety
Google News - almost 6 years
I'd interviewed Hatcher for another book, "The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson," since he'd been an actor client in the 1950s of the book's subject, agent Henry Willson. Laurents and Hatcher were one of the great untold love stories, one that I wanted to
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Google News article
New $4.6 million plan will support new grad center, summer research - CU Columbia Spectator
Google News - almost 6 years
A new funding package for graduate students announced earlier this semester would make Columbia's aid to doctoral candidates competitive with peer institutions for the first time, according to Carlos Alonso, the acting dean of the
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Google News article
THE WEEK AHEAD: Dec.11-Dec. 17; THEATER
NYTimes - about 11 years
Is it still a roman à clef (or in this case, a play à clef) if more than one key turns the lock? In ''THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED,'' Douglas Carter Beane's new Hollywood satire, a hot young actor wants to come out of the closet, but his agent won't let him. Shades of Henry Willson, the notorious Hollywood manager who groomed many homosexual himbos for
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NYTimes article
Did Success Spoil Tab Hunter?
NYTimes - over 11 years
TO ask, ''Whatever happened to Tab Hunter?'' is to ask, ''Whatever happened to America?'' -- the America before the Kennedys were shot; before Vietnam, where Mr. Hunter's own brother died; Watergate; and later, Sept. 11 and the war on terror. In 1954 Mr. Hunter, 23, blond-haired and blue-eyed, the perfect product of a popular imagination as free
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NYTimes article
A Star's Real Life Upstages His Films; Tab Hunter Looks Back on Sadness and Success and Ahead to a Book
NYTimes - over 13 years
Over the past 20 years Tab Hunter, whose blond, Malibu beach boy looks made him one of the biggest screen idols of the 1950's, has had a heart attack, a quadruple bypass and a stroke. But at 72 he still looks like, well, a beach boy, albeit older. And his career and personal life, if not exactly sunny, are far livelier than most of his films, which
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NYTimes article
THE LIVES THEY LIVED: 50'S: PERRY COMO, B. 1912 TROY DONAHUE, B. 1936; Pretty Boys
NYTimes - about 15 years
Sex was going to leap into the open in post-World War II America no matter what, and the 1950's was the last time that show business's pop-culture factories tried to swat it down. Ed Sullivan wouldn't let CBS's cameras show Elvis below the waist, and for every Monroe and Brando, Hollywood came up with a virginal Doris Day to lower the rising
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NYTimes article
Troy Donahue, 65, Actor Cast In 1960's Teenage Romances
NYTimes - over 15 years
Troy Donahue, a blond, blue-eyed film heartthrob of the 1950's and 60's, died here today. He was 65 and lived in Santa Monica, Calif. The cause was a heart attack, said a family friend, Bob Palmer. Mr. Donahue played Sandra Dee's young lover in ''A Summer Place'' in 1959, a role that made him a matinee star. He went on to star in a series of
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NYTimes article
Marcus Singer, 80, Professor Accused By 50's House Panel
NYTimes - over 22 years
Dr. Marcus Singer, a longtime professor of anatomy and zoology who was Henry Willson Payne Professor of Anatomy at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, died on Saturday at his home in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. He was 80. The cause was congestive heart failure, said his son Dr. Robert Singer. Dr. Marcus Singer retired in 1985 after 24 years
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NYTimes article
Review/Television; The Life, Death and Secrets of Rock Hudson
NYTimes - about 27 years
LEAD: Having spent most of his life trying to keep his homosexuality secret, Rock Hudson ended up having his AIDS-related death sensationalized internationally. No more hiding. The all-American guy, the very image of handsome ruggedness, was gay. Ironically, his death was a turning point in the strenuous efforts by concerned citizens, especially
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NYTimes article
TELEVISION; The Rock Hudson Story Gets Told. And Perhaps Retold
NYTimes - about 27 years
LEAD: The networks are competing more fiercely and frequently over the rights to titillating true stories. Lately, ABC and NBC have been duking it out over the life and death of Rock Hudson, the Hollywood star who died of AIDS in 1985. Last year, NBC announced plans for a biography and commissioned a script, but ABC quietly moved in and beat the
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NYTimes article
ROCK HUDSON, SCREEN IDOL, DIES AT 59
NYTimes - over 31 years
Rock Hudson, the actor whose handsome looks and flair for comedy made him a romantic idol of the 1950's and 60's, died yesterday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 59 years old and had been suffering for more than a year from AIDS. Mr. Hudson, whose search for medical treatment in recent months focused worldwide attention on the incurable disease,
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NYTimes article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Henry Willson
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1978
    Age 66
    Died in 1978.
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  • FORTIES
  • 1955
    Age 43
    In 1955, Confidential magazine threatened to publish an expose about Hudson's secret homosexual life, and Willson disclosed information about Rory Calhoun's years in prison and Tab Hunter's arrest at a gay party in 1950 in exchange for the tabloid not printing the Hudson story.
    More Details Hide Details At his agent's urging, Hudson married Willson's secretary Phyllis Gates in order to put the rumors to rest and maintain a macho image, but the union dissolved after three years. In his later years, Willson struggled with drug addiction, alcoholism, paranoia, and weight problems. Because his own homosexuality had become public knowledge, many of his clients, both gay and straight, distanced themselves from him for fear of being branded the same. In 1974, the unemployed and destitute agent moved into the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital, where he remained until he died of cirrhosis of the liver. With no money to cover the cost of a gravestone, he was interred in an unmarked grave, in Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery, in North Hollywood, California.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1943
    Age 31
    In 1943, David O. Selznick hired Willson to head the talent division of his newly formed Vanguard Pictures.
    More Details Hide Details The first film he cast was the World War II drama Since You Went Away with Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, and Shirley Temple. He placed Guy Madison, Craig Stevens, and John Derek (billed as Dare Harris) in small supporting roles. Willson eventually opened his own talent agency, where he nurtured the careers of his young finds, frequently coercing them into sexual relationships in exchange for publicity and film roles. In his book, Screened Out: Playing Gay in Hollywood from Edison to Stonewall, Richard Barrios writes, "Talent agent Henry Willson... had a singular knack for discovering and renaming young actors whose visual appeal transcended any lack of ability. Under his tutelage, Robert Mosely became Guy Madison, Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr. was renamed Ty Hardin, Arthur Gelien was changed to Tab Hunter, and Roy Scherer turned into Rock Hudson. So successful was the beefcake aspect of this enterprise, and so widely recognized was Willson's sexuality, that it was often, and often inaccurately, assumed that all of his clients were gay." Suzanne Finstad confirms that "Some of the would-be actors Willson represented were heterosexual, but a disproportionate number were homosexual, bisexual, or 'co-operated' with Willson 'to get gigs,' in the observation of Natalie Wood's costar Bobby Hyatt " "If a young, handsome actor had Henry Willson for an agent, 'it was almost assumed he was gay, like it was written across his forehead,' recalls Ann Doran, one of Willson's few female clients."
  • TWENTIES
  • 1937
    Age 25
    Willson joined the Zeppo Marx Agency, where he represented newcomers Marjorie Bell, Jon Hall, and William T. Orr. He was introduced to Hollywood High School student Judy Turner in 1937, whom he renamed "Lana Turner" and got cast in small roles, finally introducing her to Mervyn LeRoy at Warner Brothers.
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  • 1935
    Age 23
    One of his first clients (and lovers) was Junior Durkin, whose career was cut short by an automobile accident on May 4, 1935, in which Durkin was killed.
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  • 1933
    Age 21
    In 1933, Willson migrated to Hollywood via a cruise ship through the Panama Canal.
    More Details Hide Details On board he cultivated a friendship with Bing Crosby's wife Dixie Lee, who introduced him to the Hollywood elite and secured him a job with Photoplay, where his first article was about newborn Gary Crosby. He began writing for The Hollywood Reporter and The New Movie Magazine, became a junior agent at the Joyce & Polimer Agency, moved into a Beverly Hills home purchased by his father, and became a regular at Sunset Strip gay bars, where he wooed young men for both professional and personal reasons.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1922
    Age 10
    Willson was born into a prominent show business family in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. His father Horace was the vice-president of the Columbia Phonograph Company and advanced to the presidency in 1922.
    More Details Hide Details Willson came in close contact with many Broadway theatre, opera, and vaudeville performers, and Will Rogers, Fanny Brice, and Fred Stone numbered among the family friends once they moved to Forest Hills, an upscale neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. Concerned about his son's interest in tap dance, the elder Willson enrolled Henry in the Asheville School in North Carolina, where he hoped the school's many team sports and rugged weekend activities, such as rock climbing and backpacking, would have a positive influence on the boy. He later attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, spending weekends in Manhattan, where he wrote weekly gossip columns for Variety.
  • 1911
    Born
    Born in 1911.
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Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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