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Out of the Closet, Off the Screen: The Life of William Haines (2001)

Chronicles the life of openly gay 1930s film actor William Haines, who sacrificed his Hollywood fame when he refused to end his relationship with another man.


Gabriel Rotello (screenplay), William J. Mann (book)


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Credited cast:
William Haines ... Himself (archive footage)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Chris Allen Chris Allen ... Jimmy Shields
Stockard Channing ... Narrator
Christina Crawford ... Herself
Herb Gore Herb Gore ... Older Haines
Christopher Lawford ... William Haines
William J. Mann William J. Mann ... Himself - Haines' biographer
Michael Musto ... Himself
Bob Wildman Bob Wildman ... Older Shields


In 1930, Billy Haines was America's number one box office star. Then he came out. When Louis B. Mayer ordered him to dump his lover, Jimmie Shields, Haines refused and started a second career as an interior decorator. He was sucessful and the couple lived together happily for over 50 years. This is their story. Written by Havan_IronOak@Bigfoot.com

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Release Date:

13 June 2001 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


References Brown of Harvard (1926) See more »

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User Reviews

An interesting portrait of one of the gay trailblazers in Hollywood.
23 November 2016 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

"Out of the Closet, Off the Screen" is a very good biography of William Haines. While few remember him today, Haines was a huge MGM star in the late silent and early talking picture period. However, when the Production Code came in and there was a concerted effort to sanitize the image of Hollywood, Haines chose to remain with his male life partner and refused to live the life of a closeted star. This show is about the brave actor but because Haines died in the early 1970s, many folks who knew him and Haines himself were not available for the film. Though, of course, back in the early 70s there was no way anyone would have been willing to interview this gay icon. Regardless, the film is well made, very interesting and a bit inspiring. The only caveat is about the ending...I am warning you that it's a very sad epilogue to this story. Well worth seeing and a production by AMC back when it used to be a network devoted to film and film stars.

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