James Whale, from Dudley, Birmingham, England was born in 1889. A world renowned hero in the gothic horror and film industry and spiration to most directors in the genre today started in humble beginnings.
Like most directors of that era he originally wanted to become an artist or actor.
Now I could start by listing his movies of course for those unfamiliar with mr Whales work so without further ramblings…
The director that first shot and filmed the infamous ‘Frankenstein!’ So many versions of him has been created over the years that we rarely think of the origin in film.
However I wanted to focus on the man behind the Macabre. His personal life became so much more interesting upon researching this eccentric individual.
We start at his enlisting during Ww1. James became an officer during this period and also became a prisoner of war by the Germans on the Western Front in Flander 1917. It was here at Holzminden Officers camp that James would find his passion in acting. Theatre performances and such would allow the young officer to express and create his visions and entertain those who needed distraction from the horrors of realities.
It would be this experience that would later give the inspirations for his dark and gothic fantasies onscreen.
As a person James seemed to be quite strategic in his thinking and preparations whilst growing his acting strengths he dabbled and became an expert in Poker playing .
Using his earnings and IOU’s once he had been set free at the end of WW1, allowed the young director to settle back into society and study in the school of Arts and Crafts where he would learn set design and the likes.
Even though his early year sound macho and somewhat patriotic, Whales personal life was far from in fact it was a well known fact that James was an openly gay homosexual, whose dalliances with men during the 20’s and 30’s was quite open for that period of time. It was still in many places illegal to be gay.
During his later life he would be devoted to producer David Lewis for over 23 years.
It is this story that I was captivated by as it shows the tenacity and fearlessness of a man who would not let society conform him or his lifestyle.
And it doesn’t stop here. James lifestyle was so open and he was so unapologetic that at the age of 62 he decided he would travel to art galleries across Europe. Now before I delve any further it’s important to note that between this time he had enjoyed a full film career and retired peacefully for the most part. Also it would seem that colleagues and those who knew him were not phased by his life and who he was they just saw it as common knowledge.
Back to art galleries….His partner and he both spent time at their home in Malibu California and as Whales love for painting grew he wanted to see all things in the world of Art. It was during his travels that he would come across and grow fond of a Bar tender at a Gay bar called Pierre.
He grew so fond of him that he told his life partner who was still residing in California that he intended to bring him home to live with them at their mansion.
This as you may have guessed…did not go well with his long term partner who eventually left ending their relationship but still remained close friends throughout James Whales life.
Pierre on the other hand moved in with James for 7 months but had to return to France where they would still see each other on occasion. Whilst this happened it was also known that Whales held lavish men infested pool parties where he would sit and goggle at those who attended enjoying all the sights.
For a man of that time it’s clear to say he wasn’t afraid to flaunt or show off who he was.
In later years through his movies and many adaptations by others they also saw his life creep into his movies with most people spotting the gay subtext and actors he would cast, who also were rumored to be homosexual.
When watching his movies it’s easy to make those assumptions however his partner David was adamant that the man was clearly an artist and expressed his visions and by doing so no matter what context should never be seen as deliberate gay subtexts.
Whatever the case his movies are legend from Frankenstein (1931) to ‘The bride of Frankenstein,(1935) and ‘The invisible man’(1933), Whales left his mark on the industry and as a result gave us a seed that grew into the massive collective we can now all get our hands on.
Pierre and Whales continued their relationship but Whales health deteriorated after 2 strokes, the last one leaving him needing home help. Now you think that would end this directors playful antics but quiet the opposite. In fact he even caught the eye of a young male nurse who he hired as a stay at home helper. Pierre knowing Whales and his past decisions decided to out the Nurse of there home replacing him with a female instead.
Becoming more and more dependent on people and becoming less and less colour full. Whales decided to end his fun in 1957, by drowning himself in his home pool at the age of 67. He left a note for his original partner David stating,
“To All I Love…I have had a wonderful life…I must have peace and this is the only way.”,JimmyLetter to David Lewis who would release it later in years to the public .
“The Queen of Hollywood” as he was known passed as dramatically as he entered and didn’t hold any regrets.
It gives a different almost beautiful story about a man unwilling to let society tell home different. He knew what he wanted and did what made him happy unapologetically. It’s astonishing that he was able to during that time. It’s definitly a story worth remembering and with his movies and classic cult films we will.
“It’s Alive!….iTS ALIVE!!!”
Thankyou for reading
The Yenner 📰🕸
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