Monday, November 10, 2008

Cinematic Crush: Robert La Tourneaux

In recognition of the long-awaited DVD debut of the gay classic The Boys in the Band tomorrow, our Cinematic Crush of the week is none other than the "Cowboy" himself, Robert La Tourneaux.

La Tourneaux originated the role of Emory's "birthday present" to Harold in the landmark 1968 Off-Broadway production of the Mart Crowley play. He, like everyone else in the cast, recreated his performance in the William Friedkin film adaptation two years later.

Prior to the Boys success, he appeared on the soap opera The Doctors. Unfortunately, La Tourneaux was typecast due to his most famous role and only appeared in a few low budget European films and Broadway plays following the film's release. Tragically, he fell on hard times and died from AIDS-related causes in 1986.

5 comments:

Brad said...

He's been a cinematic crush of mine for a long time and can't wait for the DVD to come out tomorrow. Thanks for the great post!

Anonymous said...

Sad story about LaTourneaux. How did he make his living after Boys? Doesn't sound like he had much of an acting career. Does anyone know? And does anyone have any memories of his life in NYC and on Fire Island?

Kirby said...

Here's some information that I found during my research:

"Robert La Tourneaux did modeling shots for Zeus that appeared in and on the cover of such publications as Mandate in the late 1970s.

On Nov. 21, 1993, The Sunday New York Times Arts & Leisure section published a letter under the headline "'THE BOYS IN THE BAND'; For Many, The Party's Over," from David Ragan. The letter concluded as follows:

"But only the worst of luck came to [Robert] La Tourneaux. In an interview several years after the 1970 release of the film version of "The Boys in the Band," he claimed that all doors in Hollywood had remained closed to him. "I was too closely identified with homosexuality, with 'Boys in the Band,' " he said. "I was typecast as a gay hustler, and it was an image I couldn't shake." The only movie roles he managed to land were bits in a few low-budget pictures made in Europe.

"Late in 1978, La Tourneaux was working in a male porno theater in Manhattan, doing a one-man cabaret act between showings of X-rated films. He said he still believed he could beat the "curse" of his famous gay role and work "straight." But that didn't happen. Stricken with AIDS in October 1984, he died on June 3, 1986 [at 44]. It had been 18 years and two months since he had first set foot on stage at Theater Four -- handsome and hopeful -- in "The Boys in the Band."

***

"In Charles Kaiser's 1997 book "The Gay Metropolis," the late Murray Gitlin, the former dancer who was production stage manager for "The Boys in the Band" and who said he urged Robert La Tourneaux to audition for the original off-Broadway production after meeting him at the Westside YMCA, tells Kaiser that La Tourneaux did become a hustler in the 1980s.

Gitlin tells Kaiser that La Tourneaux spent time on Rikers Island for attempted extortion, "probably [of] a john," attempted suicide, was hospitalized with AIDS at Bellevue, and died after his jail time in Metropolitan Hospital.

Gitlin himself died of AIDS at 67 in 1994."

Source: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/dailymusto/archives/2008/10/gayest_movie_ev.php

- kch

Anonymous said...

His biographical highlights in the new documentary "making the boys" climax iwith his extreme anger at contracting AIDS. His is a sad story of how the entertainment business can be a real nightmare. I recall seeing him at Sheridan Square gym in NYC in 1978 looking young and healthy, but on the ropes.

Anonymous said...

When I met Robert at a wonderful party in the afternoon 1966 t fire island. He was charming and sensative truly the golden boy like Pan. I was alone that summer he always was good. Company fabulous nites at the Boatel dancing blue whales he had a good ear quiet nights on the dunes I loved Bobbie and spent the best summer Ikept track of his career years past 1986 I saw all the talented ones in a magazine died of aids I cried when I saw his photo e was very brave Sleep my love

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