One of Hollywood's matinee idols, solid thespians, and out gay actors has passed away at the age of 85. Farley Granger is probably not very well known to many of today's younger film-goers, but there was a time when he was a box office draw. He starred in such Hitchcock thrillers as Strangers on a Train and Rope, and later did television work in shows such as Ellery Queen and Murder, She Wrote.
Watching some of his roles (most notably the Hitchcock ones), it has been suggested that we can see (very broad) brushstrokes of homosexuality, and I might agree with such an assessment. It's been rumored that staunchly conservative actor Jimmy Stewart felt uncomfortable on the set of Rope, where both his co-stars (Granger and John Dall) were gay. In his later years, Granger spoke out on the subject of homosexuality in Hollywood:
Since the 1990s, Granger has appeared in several documentaries discussing Hollywood in general and Alfred Hitchcock in particular. In 1995 he was interviewed on camera for The Celluloid Closet, discussing the depiction of homosexuality in film and the use of subtext in various films, including his own.
In 2003, Granger made his last film appearance in Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There. In it, he tells the story of leaving Hollywood at the peak of his fame, buying out his contract from Samuel Goldwyn, and moving to New York City to work on the Broadway stage.
In 2007, Granger published the memoir Include Me Out, co-written with domestic partner Robert Calhoun. In the book, named after one of Goldwyn's famous malapropisms, he freely discusses his career and personal life. Calhoun died of lung cancer in New York City on May 24, 2008.Oddly enough, one of Farley Granger's overlooked films, Senso, has just been released on Criterion blu-ray and DVD. The restoration of the 1954 Italian classic was overseen by Martin Scorsese, and I've been toying with the idea of watching it, especially after film critic Roger Ebert's big-up of it a few weeks ago. Now, I may just have to make the time, in memory of Farley....