The 25th-anniversary revival of Claudio Macor’s The Tailor-Made Man, a true story about Hollywood hypocrisy, officially opens tomorrow night (9 November 2017) at London’s White Bear Theatre, where its limited season continues until 25 November 2017 only. Check out our BIG bumper galleries of production and rehearsal photographs for this brand-new production, starring Mitchell Hunt and Tom Berkeley, and then get booking!
William “Billy” Haines was a popular silent screen MGM movie star who was fired by Louis B Mayer because he was gay and refused to give up his lifelong partner, Jimmie Shields, in order to marry the silent screen vamp, Pola Negri. As punishment, Haines’ films were removed from release and sealed in the MGM vaults never to be seen again, and his studio photographs destroyed in an attempt to erase him completely from movie history. But Billy and Jimmy’s turbulent, passionate love affair was to survive and lasted over 50 years. This is their story.
The Tailor-Made Man is directed by Bryan Hodgson and stars Mitchell Hunt (TV’s Mr Selfridge, Hollyoaks) as William “Billy” Haines and Tom Berkeley as Jimmie Shields. They’re joined in the cast by Paul Hunter, Peter Dewhurst, Henry Felix, Edwin Flay, Dean Harris, Rachel Knowles and Yvonne Lawlor.
Author Claudio Macor said:
“Thirty years ago a friend gave me a copy of Kenneth Anger’s book Hollywood Babylon. As I was reading the various Hollywood scandals Kenneth Anger so vividly described, I came across The White Legion and The Purple Poodle and discovered the story of William ‘Billy’ Haines and Jimmie Shields. I was still acting at the time and dreamed of playing Billy but soon fell out of love with acting when I started writing… This revival of the original play at the White Bear Theatre is the 25th-year anniversary production. It’s actually 25 years and 25 days since the first performance!”
About William “Billy” Haines
Charles William “Billy” Haines (2 January 1900 – 26 December 1973), known professionally as William Haines, was discovered by a talent scout and signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1922. His career gained momentum when he was loaned out to Columbia Pictures where he received favourable reviews for his role in The Midnight Express. Haines returned to MGM and was cast in the 1926 film Brown of Harvard. The role solidified his screen persona as a wisecracking, arrogant leading man. By the end of the 1920s, Haines had appeared in a string of successful films and was a popular box office draw. But his career was cut short by the 1930s due to his refusal to deny his homosexuality.
Billy’s fate has played a huge part in preventing movie stars from coming out to this very day. Box Office is routinely used as the excuse but the real reason is the fear of annihilation that Billy suffered. With Jimmie’s help, Billy then forged a spectacular career as an interior designer to the stars, presidents and ambassadors. His interior design career eclipsed his film career. Billy and Jimmie were together for over 50 years and lived like a modern-day gay couple, from the 20’s to the 70’s this was achievable only in Hollywood. They were often quoted as the “happiest married couple in Hollywood”. What makes this story stand out from other Hollywood stories is the sheer determination Billy had in succeeding in his design business. A business that is still active today and his shop is still open in the same location in West Hollywood. He died of lung cancer in December 1973 at the age of 73.
Photos by Andreas Lambi.