George Cukor: A Double Life

by Bill Biss

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday April 22, 2013

George Cukor: A Double Life

When someone says, "That was some of his/her best work." This simple, unadorned and basic observation takes all of two seconds to say. Ultimately though, that statement can represent almost an entire lifetime of learning and understanding of a specific person's skill or craft. Esteemed, awarded, respected and truly admired by many actresses and actors of Hollywood's golden age, George Cukor's life, sexuality and work is revealed in "George Cukor: A Double Life" written by Patrick McGilligan.

Cukor's respect and admiration for women as a director at MGM Studios, along with his very much "hush hush" homosexuality in a strictly "man's world," of business would have blackballed him in a second if he opened up publicly in any way about his proclivities for the male sex. The cliché but true adage of "What would Hollywood be without the creative talents of the LGBT population?" certainly rings a powerful bell here in regards to the quantity and quality of the movies directed by George Cukor. It's understood that the right director and an attitude of perfection brings forth the very best performance from an already gifted actor.

Take away films such as "Dinner at Eight," "What Price Hollywood," and also "Holiday," "Adam's Rib" and "The Philadelphia Story" [three films with Katharine Hepburn, a life-long friend and co-worker of Cukor] in addition to "A Double Life," "A Star is Born" [Garland film] or "My Fair Lady"... and you cut away a very crucial part of the heart of American cinema.

In addition to recollections by those in his sphere and on-set at the studio, author McGilligan also opens up the screens to Cukor's inner-circle of lovers, close friends and social set. As Streisand once sang, "Never, never will I marry..." Cukor knew with a gut instinct and determination that his sexuality as a gay man must not be admitted but only be known to a select many in the industry whose friendship and affiliation in business could be trusted. George Cukor is ultimately deserving of being tagged a "gentlemen's gentleman" and even as his life progressed right into the midst of the blossoming empowerment of gay rights in the 1960s and 1970s and up to his death, he never admitted to those in the media his standing as an "oh, so gay and witty" man. This, in itself, makes perfect sense in his stance against scandal and ridicule by the public and press. George Cukor kept the respect for his supreme talent in check.

"George Cukor: A Double Life"

By Patrick McGilligan

University of Minnesota Press