Friday, August 11, 2017

Brandon DeWilde in Paul Newman's Bed

Born in Brooklyn, New York in April 1942, Brandon DeWilde was performing on Broadway at age 7.  At age 11, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Shane (1953).  That fall he got his own tv series, Jamie (1953-1954).

He was a big star.  And already sexually active.

He always said that he was born horny.  As a teenager he rarely went more than a day without going down on a man or letting a man or woman go down on him.  Usually two or three.  He and a buddy often teamed up to work on a third guy or girl, then do each other.

How did he find all those willing partners, at a jailbait age, in the police-state 1950s, when sodomy and fornication would get you a prison sentence?  It helped that he had a stunning face and an enormous penis that kept getting bigger and bigger every year.  And that he looked...well, innocent.  Everybody thought they were his first.

Right, his first today.

Brandon wasn't sure whether he liked sex with men or women better -- why choose, they were both great!  But for sheer physical attraction, that jolt that hits you in the pit of your stomach, it was always men.

Especially older, sophisticated, powerful men, the kind who would take you out and show you a good time before tearing your clothes off and throwing your legs in the air.

And maybe help your career.   Brandon's first real boyfriend was novelist James Leo Herlihy, who got him cast in the film versions of Blue Denim (1959) and All Fall Down (1962).

Not that they were monogamous -- no matter how many times they had sex the night before, Brandon still found himself getting aroused at the sight of muscular stage hands and pretty-in-pink script girls -- and he got a lot of invitations.  How could he refuse?

In 1962, shortly after he and James broke up, Brandon landed a dream role --  Lonnie in Hud, an adaption of Larry McMurtrey's 1961 Western novel Horsemen Pass By, about a gay teenager who falls in love with his no-good uncle.

Ok, he wasn't explicitly gay, in the script, but that's how Brandon intended to play him!

Especially when he discovered that Hud was to be played by 37-year old Paul Newman, star of gay-subtext movies like The Long Hot Summer and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.   A major sex symbol, arguably the most beautiful man in the world.  How could Lonnie not be in love with him?

How could Brandon not be in love with him?

"Dream on," James said, still smarting a little from the breakup.  "Paul Newman can have any guy he wants, and he likes them big and built, like Brando, Yul Brynner, and Rocky Graziano -- why would he pick a skinny 20-year old kid?  Besides, you're both bottoms.  What are you going to do, exchange recipes?"

"I can screw with the best of them, Daddy-O!" Brandon exclaimed.  "And I can seduce with the best of them."

On May 21, 1962, location filming began in the town of Claude on the Texas Panhandle.  Cast and crew stayed at several hotels in Amarillo.  Brandon seduced the desk clerk at Paul's hotel into letting him into his room.  Paul came in later to find Brandon on the bed naked.

"I've been waiting all afternoon to suck the cock of Paul Newman," he announced.

Paul was hesitant at first -- he wasn't into skinny kids, even those with angelic faces and enormous penises -- but Brandon was very persistent.  Soon they were having sex every night, with each other and with whatever men or women they invited along -- both of them got a lot of offers!

Brandon was mostly a bottom with men, but one night he topped a guy who was going down on Paul at the same time.  Then he switched positions -- what a kick!  He never topped Paul, though -- Paul had a smaller cock, but he was older, and a bigger star, therefore always dominant.

When the Texas shooting ended and they returned to Los Angeles, Paul said, "Look, it's been swell, but I'm a one-man man.  If we're going to do this, you're going to have to be faithful.  No other guys...or chicks either, unless you're married to them."

Brandon was completely captivated.  Paul's fame, his money, his connections that could push a career -- none of it mattered.  Even the sex wasn't important.  He wanted to be with Paul, share his bed, share his life, no matter what.

So he tried monogamy.  He cut back on the hookups.  He got married, to take some of the pressure off.  But he and Paul had different commitments, and just couldn't see each other often.  They had to make do with an occasional weekend fling.

What was Brandon supposed to do on the other days?  Sex with his wife Susan, of course.  But he got aroused so easily, and he had so many offers -- it was simply impossible to turn them all down.

Brandon tried visiting Paul on the set for an occasional dressing-room blow job, but Paul didn't like that -- too dangerous.  If anyone found out about them, both their careers would be over.

Still, Brandon longed for some public recognition of their relationship, if only in code.

In 1968, Paul signed on as Butch in the intensely homoerotic buddy-Western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  Brandon thought that he should play Sundance -- a perfect way to display their commitment!

Besides, his career was in the dumps -- he had barely worked in three years.  What good was having a superstar boyfriend, if he refused to use his influence to get you jobs?

Paul argued that it would look suspicious for him to promote Brandon for the role. The producers wanted Steve McQueen.

"Your new boyfriend?" Brandon sniped.  "What, does he suck your cock better than me?  Or does he have a tighter ass?  Here I've been trying my damnedest to stay faithful, and you're shacking up with every Tom, Dick, and Harry!"

The argument escalated, and became public -- they were nearly outed on the spot.  Paul angrily broke up with Brandon.

Worried about being caught in the middle of a gay love triangle, McQueen backed out of the role, and Robert Redford took over.

Devastated by the breakup, Brandon divorced Susan -- they were mostly together for Paul's sake, anyway -- and distanced himself from Hollywood, returning to his old love, theater.  In March 1972 he remarried.  In July 1972, while starring in Butterflies are Free, he was driving through Lakewood, a suburb of Denver, when he swerved to avoid a drunk driver and was killed.

Paul Newman had a legendary career, in such memorable movies as The Sting (1973), Fort Apache, the Bronx (1981), and The Color of Money (1986).  Never openly bisexual -- his 2010 biography just mentions Brandon as his costar in Hud -- he was married to Joanne Woodward for 50 years, and had three children.  He was a strong supporter of gay rights.

Most of this story comes from Randall the Muscle Bear, who never met Brandon, but knew some men who tricked with him in the 1960s.  I took some details from Darwin Porter's 2009 biography of Paul Newman, but I found it to be generally unreliable.

See also: Paul Newman and Rocky Graziano


  1. In the 50s? My image of the 50s is very Peyton Place.

    1. There was a thriving underground gay culture. Mattachine Society, Daughters of Bilitis, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams. Try the story of Randall sharing a bed with Dick Sargent, Cary Grant, and Groucho Marx to get an idea of the gay parties they held.

    2. Peyton Place wasn't innocent either. That was the whole point: Idealistic veneer, but EVERYONE has some scandal.

  2. Any chance of there being any nude photos laying around of Brandon. Also do you have any juicy stories about two of my favorite teenagers Rick Nelson or David Nelson

    1. If I had some, I would certainly post them.

  3. Me thinks the gay/bi male actors out number the truly straight ones.

  4. Upon reading your blogs for some months, I have developed a delicious sense of irony in that the Uber straight male watches their he man heroes in movies likely played by gay/bi actors.

  5. Hey bro if that wasn't meant for me then apologies, otherwise whatever gave you the idea that I was ever straight? Your the one hiding by using the name Anonymous. Come out in the sunshine Dorothy.