Jan 2, 2014

Fernando Lamas: Was the Latin Lover Bisexual?

Have you seen the tv commercials about a heterosexual kitchen sponge with a Spanish accent who says his favorite part of a woman's body is her hands?

I don't know the origin of the stereotype of the "Latin lover," a man who can win the heart of any woman with a sultry smile, but Fernando Lamas is a good bet.

The celebrity died in 1982, but his presence was so over-the-top that he's still being parodied today, in the characters of Fernando on Saturday Night Live and "The Most Interesting Man in the World" in Dos Equis beer commercials.

Born in Argentina in 1918, Lamas racked up trophies for amateur boxing, fencing, and swimming before coming to Hollywood in the early 1950s.  He starred in some movies, mostly about men seducing women: The Merry Widow (1952), The Girl Who Had Everything (1953), Dangerous When Wet (1953).  Mostly about him seducing his costar off-camera.

He wasn't particularly hunky, but he was handsome, suave, and sophisticated, the last of the old-style romantic leads.  Unfortunately, he was increasingly anachronistic in the era of Hollywood beefcake,when gay talent agent Henry Willson was flooding the market with massive pecs and bulging biceps.  By the late 1950s, Fernando was relegated to the wasteland of guest roles on tv Westerns.
But, like the Gabor sisters, his fame came not from his acting so much as for his hetero-romances: four marriages, innumerable liaisons, flings, and affairs.

Not a lot of homoerotic buddy-bonding in his performances -- the IMDB assigns the keyword "friendship" to only one of his projects, an episode of Starsky and Hutch that he directed.

Not a lot of homoerotic buddy-bonding in real life, either.  He preferred the company of women, even when he wasn't sleeping with them.  

What do you say about an actor who spends all of his time off camera with women?  Right -- you say he's gay.  Because of course, heterosexual men can't stand being with women.

The conservative Republican was not pleased with the gay rumors so he "disproved" them by sleeping with the rumor-mongers' wives.  

He's identified as bisexual on some internet lists, but no one is naming names.

His son Lorenzo started off his career playing gay-vague characters.

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