Nov 26, 2016

Ron Glass: The Gay-Vague Cop at the Gym

I was saddened to hear of the death of Ron Glass on November 25th, 2016, at the age of 71.  As a kid in Rock Island, I loved Barney Miller (1975-1982),  a "hip sitcom" about the quirky cops and criminals at  New York police station.

I had a big crush on the dimwitted, muscular Wojo (Max Gail), but I loved the fussy, swishy, stylish, gay-vague Detective Ron Harris.

A glimpse of sophistication and freedom on dark, gloomy Thursday nights in a Rock Island where everyone was terrified to admit that gay people existd.

 Harris was always impeccably dressed, a shining exception to the crumpled cops around him

And, incidentally, he had a breathtaking bulge.

Later, when I was living in West Hollywood, I saw Ron often at the gym.  Not much of a physique: he went for lean and lanky, and he was extraordinarily feminine, not my type. But he could really fill out his gym trunks.  Mega-huge!

It was common knowledge in West Hollywood that Ron was gay but not out, but I don't have any celebrity dating stories about him.  Maybe he wasn't a big enough star to cause a stir at gay parties, when we could be revealing romances with Brad Pitt and Sylvester Stallone instead.

I heard that Tony Geary from General Hospital was his former lover.

Ron Glass grew up in Evansville, Indiana, and worked in theater before coming to Los Angeles in 1972.  Aside from Barney Miller, he was known for The New Odd Couple (1982-83), playing the fussy Felix Ungar to Demond Wilson's Oscar Madison; and the futuristic science fiction series Firefly (2002-2003), playing the religious zealot Shepherd Book (nice name).

But he had over 70 acting roles, mostly in an extraordinary array of sitcoms, from the 1970s (Maude, All in the Family, Good Times) to the 2000s (Friends).

He never lost contact with his Evansville roots, often returning to participate in the life of the community.  He was chairman of the Evansville African American Museum.

I've only found one semi-beefcake photo online.

But it wasn't about the beefcake.  It was about the glimpse of freedom for gay kids lost in the wilds of the Straight World.

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