Dec 6, 2013

George Nader: Actor and Gay Activist of the 1950s

Lots of monsters landed in space ships during the 1950s, or crawled out of the ocean, but by far the most ridiculous was Robot Monster (1953): a guy in a gorilla suit and a diving helmet. He's killed everyone on Earth except for eight survivors. He goes after them one by one, even killing a little boy (breaking the rule that children in horror movies are invincible).  He falls for a survivor girl, refuses to kill her, and gets in trouble with his boss, who destroys him, leaving three survivors. But it might be a dream.  Hopefully it's a dream.

Other than the ridiculousness, the movie's main claim to fame is George Nader's chest.  The actor spends most of the movie with his shirt off -- until he's killed by the Robot Monster.




The 28-year old Nader had only been in Hollywood for a few years.  He arrived just in time for the beefcake revival, when gay agent Henry Willson placed dozens of guys with monosyllabic names like Rock and Guy in movies based on their hunk appeal.  George costarred with several of them:

Steve Cochran in Carnival Story (1954)
Rory Calhoun in Four Guns to the Border (1954)
Tony Curtis in Six Bridges to Cross (1955)
John Saxon in The Unguarded Moment (1956)

But stardom eluded him, probably because of the gay rumors; he refused to put on a heterosexual facade, like his lifelong friend Rock Hudson.


In the early 1960s, the gay rumors forced George and his partner Mark Miller to move to Europe, where he finally found stardom -- and gay subtexts -- as secret agent Jerry Cotton in a series of German movies.  Heinz Weiss played his assistant/ boyfriend, Phil Dekker.






George retired from acting in 1974, and devoted himself to writing and gay rights activism.  His first novel, Chrome (1978), remains rare example of a science fiction novel with a gay male protagonist.

He died in 2002, survived by Mark Miller.  They had been together for 55 years.