Sep 14, 2013

Peter Coe: The Edge of Gay Hollywood

If you were watching Chuck Acri's Creature Feature or any of the other local creature features of the 1960s and 1970s:  Ghoulardi, Sir Graves Ghastly, Count Scary, Svengooli, Zacherley -- then you've seen Peter Coe.  He starred in two of the iconic 1940s monster movies:

House of Frankenstein (1944), which brought Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman together.
The Mummy's Curse (1944), which brought the Mummy to the Louisiana Bayou.

Then there was a series of war movies, Arabian adventures, Indian adventures, including some famous ones: Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Captain Scarface (1953), The Ten Commandments (1956), mostly playing ethnic minorities in "blink and you miss him parts."  That never gave him a chance to show off his impressive physique.

When he did have a starring role, it was in what looks like rather heterosexist vehicles,  such as Louisiana Hussy (1959): "Born to make love and make trouble!"

He always preferred the stage to movies, starring on Broadway in The Fifth Column and My Sister Eileen.

Not a lot of gay content so far.  Even less when you discover that he was married 8 times and had 6 children.

But when you look at Peter Coe's private life, you see him wandering around the edges of the gay subculture of 1950s Hollywood (I'm not sure how he found the time).

He was friends with gay character actor Henry Brandon, who also did a lot of ethnic parts, and best friends with eccentric, trans-positive director Ed Wood Jr.  In fact, when Ed and his wife Kathy were evicted from their apartment, they moved in with Peter.  He died there on December 10, 1978.

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