Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage



BOOKS Former Warner Brothers head Alan Shayne reflects on a pivotal summer
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 1706 times since Sat Oct 24, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Many things happened in 1941—Pearl Harbor was attacked, the Wonder Woman comic began publication and Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in for his third term as U.S. president.

It was also a pivotal year for Alan Shayne, 94, an openly gay man who started in the entertainment field as an actor ( eventually landing on Broadway ) and who later became president of Warner Brothers Television. In The Rain May Pass, Shayne looks back on being 15 in Massachusetts—a year when he embarked on same-sex experiences and found his first love.

Windy City Times: Before we discuss your book, I have a general question: Many feel that Hollywood is a bastion of liberalism, although there still seem to be some lavender relationships and marriages happening. What do you think?

Alan Shayne: [Laughs] I don't know. I tell you that we [Shayne and longtime partner Norman Sunshine] lived happily there. Everybody knew we were gay, certainly, and we lived openly.

When I took over the television division at Warner Brothers, they said they were going out of business and they just wanted someone to finish it off. I didn't really realize that, so I made it successful—but then people tried to offer [the position] to other people and we went through a whole list. One day I said, "What about me? I really did it all." The problem for them was that I was gay; they weren't homophobic, but they felt that a gay man couldn't hang with the old-boys network, going to basketball games and things like that. So things weren't as open then as they are now. Actors can be in gay relationships now, openly.

Some may be in sham relationships, but that's a holdover from the past. I guess if you're a romantic actor, they want you to have everybody [as fans]. You know all the stories about Rock [Hudson] and how he was married; well, I married a woman [actress Mary Fickett].

WCT: So, as Warner Brothers president, you were a trailblazer.

AS: [Pauses] Yes. I didn't mean to be, but I guess I was.

Going back to your first question, actors have been primarily Democrats. John Wayne wasn't and some other stars weren't, but generally they were [Democrats]. Many of them came from nothing—and I think if you come from nothing, you tend to be more liberal and more Democratic. It's a theory I never thought of before but, in a way, it's true, you know?

WCT: What spurred you to write a memoir? I not sure that I ever could do such a thing.

AS: It meant so much to me; it was very important time in my life, and I kept going back to it—and I thought it was a really good story. In fact, I started working on it years ago as a movie script. I worked for [director] Mike Nichols in those days, and he read the script I worked on, contacted me and said, "I love it—let's do it!" Then he never mentioned it again. [Laughs] I learned later in life that he expected me to go to the studios and sell it; well, I didn't have any contacts at that time.

Then, I tried to do it as a novel. Then I realized it was all true, so I wondered why I was hiding. So I decided to do it as a memoir—and the reason you write a memoir is because you want to recapture the past, in a way, and figure out what happened. When I wrote it, I figured out why Roger [Shayne's first love] couldn't have a relationship with me: The age difference was incredible [Roger was 30 and Shayne was 15] and he knew it, even though I was all gung-ho.

By the way, it's very important for people to know this relationship wasn't abuse.

WCT: Did the age difference make you reluctant to write this memoir? I can see some people saying, "This older man took advantage of this young boy."

AS: One of the reasons I wrote it was to show there are young gays who can have relationships with older guys, although there are certainly terrible cases of abuse that do happen. In the memoir, I took a while to get to the love story with Roger to show a boy who was fascinated by something he didn't understand. This was 1941 and there was no internet; now, you can find out everything about someone. Also, there were no books and there was no Will & Grace. This young boy is exploring his own feelings. That's not abuse. By the way, people who read the book never talk of abuse; it's people who hear of the book who wonder if there was abuse. The book is about love.

WCT: Looking back at the time period this book covers, what did you learn about love?

AS: I learned that such a thing exists—as well as that I could feel love and that someone could love me. However, I clearly didn't know about love. My parents weren't God-awful people, but they didn't really pay that much attention to me, either. Finally, someone came along who said, "You're wonderful," helped me grow and believed in me. That changed my whole life. When that ended, I was determined to find love again.

WCT: There's a point in the book when an actor wanted to have sex with you without love—and you didn't want that.

AS: No. As I grew older, I went through a period of sex without love, as many people do. But I believed strongly in love; I experienced it with Roger, and I thought that was what life is all about. I searched for love and I finally found it—and we've been together for 62 years.

WCT: Sixty-two years?!? What's your secret?

AS: [Laughs] You decided what you want in life, and you go after it. It's not easy, but it's so rewarding. I'm very fortunate.

WCT: As an aside, there are a lot of interesting details in the memoir. For example, I had no idea that soy burgers existed back then.

AS: [Laughs] My father was crazy, impossible and unloving. He was actually a vegetarian and he died at age 100. My mother died at 92; he said, "If she had been a vegetarian, she would've lived longer." [Both laugh.]

WCT: I know you never spoke with Roger again—but you never heard anything about him from anyone else, either?

AS: No. I never heard from him again. I didn't know anyone who knew him, and I didn't remember the name of the city where his mother's farm was. But I realized, through writing the book, that he was protecting me by leaving me—but he gave me my dream of being an actor.

WCT: If you could reunite with Roger, what would you ask him?

AS: I think I would ask him why he never contacted me. Many people who have read the book have said, "Gee—I wish I had a Roger in my life," so he's not a heavy. He was a good person.

WCT: Ultimately, what would you like readers to take from this book?

AS: I'd like them to understand gay people. I want them to understand us more. When we [Shayne and Sunshine] wrote [the dual memoir] Double Life in 2011, young gay people were killing themselves. It seemed that they felt they couldn't be in relationships, so I wanted people to know that our relationship was something they could have. With The Rain May Pass, it explains what a young gay person goes through—and you see a relationship where a young person is helped by an older man.

Once, our mother visited [Sunshine and myself] in our Connecticut house and she said to the handyman, "Isn't it wonderful that Alan and Norman have this friendship? It's like the Greeks of yore." [Interviewer laughs.] Everyone has a first love, and we learn through our loves and relationships.

The Rain May Pass is now available for purchase.

This article shared 1706 times since Sat Oct 24, 2020
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

SHOWBIZ: Awards, 'Bebop,' Andy Cohen, Mariah Carey, Revry
The American Music Awards aired live Nov. 22 and some of the biggest names in music took home awards; Taraji P. Henson hosted. According to, Doja Cat won new artist of the year and Becky ...

Gay News

MOVIES Paul Bettany talks 'Uncle Frank' and his own closeted father
In the critically acclaimed Amazon Studios movie Uncle Frank, out Nov. 25, Paul Bethany (the Avengers and Iron Man series; Master and Commander; The Da Vinci Code) plays the title character—a literature professor who has two ...

Gay News

MOVIES Peter Macdissi reflects on making 'Uncle Frank'
In the Amazon Studios movie Uncle Frank, out Nov. 25, Peter Macdissi plays Walid "Wally" Nadeem—the partner of the title character (played by Paul Bettany). However, the dynamics are a bit different in that Frank Bledsoe ...

Gay News

BOOKS/ART Local man releases sketches by famous artist uncle
Cuban American painter Gustavo Ojeda (1958—89) is best known for lush and meditative urban nightscapes that brought him recognition in the 1980s downtown New York art scene. He exhibited works alongside artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, ...

Gay News

Hubbard Street Dance presents surrealist film online Dec. 3, 5 and 6
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) continues its 2020/21 43rd season with a virtual premiere presentation of new work from former Hubbard Street dancer and acclaimed choreographer Jonathan Fredrickson ...

Gay News

Five Worth Finding: Restaurants, OUT100, children's book, face mask
—Perry's Steakhouse & Grille ( This suburban spot (with two restaurants in Oak Brook and Schaumburg) is well-known for its delicious cuts of meat, sumptuous sides and hand-crafted cocktails. It's ...

Gay News

Day With(out) Art: Transmissions launches online Nov. 30
--From a press release - NEW YORK, Nov. 16, 2020 — Visual AIDS, the only contemporary arts organization fully committed to raising AIDS and HIV awareness through dialogue, art exhibitions and public forums, announces their ...

Gay News

Artist Riva Lehrer talks new memoir, career, state of the world
In queer artist, writer and curator Riva Lehrer's recently released memoir Golem Girl, she takes readers on a journey through her life via the lens of her being born with spina bifida and the way that ...

Gay News

MUSICALS 1997 version of Anyone Can Whistle out Dec. 4
On Sunday, Dec. 4, Jay Records will release a 1997 recording of the musical Anyone Can Whistle, which originally had music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim as well as a book by Arthur Laurents. The production ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Wentworth Miller, Whitney, lesbian author, Mark Wahlberg
Out actor Wentworth Miller said he doesn't want to be involved in a new season of the TV show Prison Break if it happens, according to Deadline. On Instagram, he thanked fans for his support and ...

Gay News

MOVIES Trans-focused Born to Be to be released Nov. 20
Born To Be—a hit documentary on the country's first hospital center for transgender medical care—will open in Philadelphia on Friday, Nov. 20 (also the Transgender Day of Remembrance) with Gene Sickle Film Center Virtual Cinema. The ...

Gay News

THEATER Pride Arts artistic director resigns; PFP keeps Zak
Two controversial developments have occurred at Pride Arts (in which Pride Films & Plays, PFP, is the main tenant). According to a letter from PrideArts President Cheri Tatar that Windy City Times obtained, PFP Artistic Director ...

Gay News

MOVIES Henry Golding gets intimate in 'Monsoon'
Taking a turn from larger-budget movies such as A Simple Favor and Crazy Rich Asians, actor Henry Golding stars in the intimate film Monsoon. The movie features Golding as Kit, a young British-Vietnamese man who returns ...

Gay News

Mama Gloria, about Chicago's elder, trans, activist icon, to screen
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL — Luchina Fisher's Mama Gloria, an important and timely documentary about Chicago's trailblazing Black trans elder icon and activist Gloria Allen, will hold nationwide screenings during Transgender Awareness ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Rock Hudson, The CW, Jillian Michaels, Isis King
Among Kino Lorber's December DVD and Blu-ray releases is a three-movie set (with the 1953-54 features Seminole, Golden Blade and Bengal Brigade) starring the late actor Rock Hudson, a press release noted. Co-stars in the films ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.