December 3, 2011

Alan Sues "tended to perform with over-the-top flamboyance on the show, displaying stereotypically gay mannerisms."

"It wasn’t because he was ashamed of being gay; it was because he was surviving as a performer... Many gay men came up to him and said how important he was when they were young because he was the only gay man they could see on television...."

We loved him on "Laugh-In." Alan Sues, dead at the age of 85.

77 comments:

David said...

I never thought of him as gay--just crazy.

CEO-MMP said...

So out of all the funny stuff the man died, and the only way Professor Annie can remember him is as a stereotypically gay person?


Really?


WV: pubeav
I won't make any of the jokes crying out to be made.

PS shocked you didn't include a link to some Laugh In dvd's at amazon in the post.

Palladian said...

Oh shut up, Julius. You're not funny, nor clever. Besides, we already have commenter "Alex" as the unfunny, non-clever parodic conservative.

Anyway, I never watched Laugh-In; for me, the inspirational flamboyant gays were Charles Nelson Reilly on "Match Game", Paul Lynde on the old "Hollywood Squares" and John Inman as Mr Humphries on PBS's syndication of "Are You Being Served?".

Reactionary homosexual "activists" hated these types; to me, they were just extraordinarily entertaining examples of the diversity of humanity. I'd rather sit around getting soused with Lynde, Reilly, or Alan Sues than endure an evening with an uptight, aggrieved activist.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Palladian. I was deleting that as you were responding to it. It's gone now.

Cedarford said...

Had barely been born when the show was on, was off the air before I watched any TV I remember.
My Dad said it had funny skits and Goldie Hawn was fucking hot.
Later, I saw clips of it and other great old comedy shows (notably I Love Lucy and the Honeymooners in reruns).
Did get a VCR compendium of "Best of Laugh-In" rental back in the days of VCRs.
Yes, funny skits and Goldie Hawn was fucking hot.

Alan Sues made no impression. Never heard of him. Probably was on the "best of" but I didn't notice. Maybe his better stuff was not what I saw.

Ann Althouse said...

"I never thought of him as gay--just crazy."

I think I remember the kids I knew -- mostly teenaged girls in northern New Jersey -- thinking of him as very funny and adorable.

We adored Paul Lynde too. I mostly remember him as Ann-Margret's father in "Bye Bye Birdie." He was also very funny on "Bewitched." The "Hollywood Squares" work came later, I think.

Ann Althouse said...

"My Dad said it had funny skits and Goldie Hawn was fucking hot."

Goldie Hawn is in the clip I've embedded, before the spot that I have it starting. She has a short joke to tell and she makes the most of it. Looks fabulous too.

If you keep watching after the Alan Sues joke, you'll see Diana Ross tell a joke.

Psychedelic George said...

I always thought the Robot on "Lost in Space" was a little light in the treads.

lavrenti lenin said...

Psychedelic George: Why do you think he hung out with Dr. Smith and the little kid... "Gosh, Dr. Smith,I didn't even know the Jupiter 2 had a choir..."

Ann Althouse said...

Not waiting for the apology not to come. Julius is entirely deleted. Email me if you want to talk about it.

Psychedelic George said...

In retrospect, it seems like half the people on TV in the 1960s were gay...Mr. Sulu...All the Batman villains...Wally Cox...Hoss....Mr. Ed...Sgt. Friday...Eve Arden...David Brinkley...Raymond Burr...Howard Sprague...the Pillsbury Doughboy....

Chuck66 said...

Hebrew-American Harvey Korman's feminine Nazi is still the best.

Psychedelic George said...

Oh, and Flipper, too.

Chuck66 said...

There is probably a Dr Smith and Penn State joke there somewhere.

showbiz111 said...

I thought Paul Lynde was the classic gayish comedian of that era; and he was a 1000 times funnier than Alan Sues could ever hope to be. Right Sammy?!! But I do give my condolences to Alan's family. He did bring laughter and that is always a gift worth cherishing.

Maguro said...

Don't forget Charles Nelson Reilly, he was pretty flamin, too.

edutcher said...

No offense, but I thought the way Sues acted made him look like a fool. Lord knows, a great many "gay" performers could act normally when they wanted, so why act like an guy lampooning women's behavior?

As I say, it tends to vindicate Freud for some people.

Ralph L said...

I can't believe our parents let us watch that show. Fortunately, most of it went over our heads.

"Tossed salad"
"Kiss the Beaver"
His delivery was muddled. Should have been more emphatic--more gay.

Why did Joanne pick on Belafonte, when Tom Jones was more notorious for chest appeal? I can't imagine Ross liked that part of the joke.

EDH said...

Howard Stern interviews Billy Mumy (with Billy West as Dr. Smith)

On the evolution of the Dr. Smith character on Lost in Space.

Ralph L said...

P George, don't forget the second Darren on "Bewitched."

J. R. said...

No offense, but I thought the way Sues acted made him look like a fool. Lord knows, a great many "gay" performers could act normally when they wanted, so why act like an guy lampooning women's behavior?

"No offense" or not, I think that that comment is offensive. Especially since that derogatory comment is directed toward a man who has just died.

To many people, Alan Sues was a ground-breaker and an inspiration. He could easily have been cut out of Laugh-In because of his open display of homosexuality, but he represented the truth. He bravely confronted the spectre of censorship head-on.

We should all learn the lesson of Alan Sues and encourage the challenging of unreasonable societal norms. Sometimes we should even err on the side of allowing things we might not agree with.

Don't you think this is the best way, Althouse?

ironrailsironweights said...

In retrospect, it seems like half the people on TV in the 1960s were gay...the Pillsbury Doughboy

A little-known fact about Poppin' Fresh is that he first became famous for his participation in a 12-hour felching marathon.

Peter

Paddy O said...

"All the Batman villains"

Burgess Meredith was gay?!

Mary Beth said...

Oh, and Flipper, too.

And Lassie, who was always a laddie.

Ralph L said...

He bravely confronted the spectre of censorship head-on.

By kissing the beaver.
Or was that sarcasm?

gadfly said...

Psychedelic George obviously forgot about the queer influence imposed on kids by the likes of Fred Rogers, Howdy Doody and Sesame Street's Bert & Ernie.

Gosh . . . how did we ever grow up straight?

J. R. said...

Mr. Sues tended to perform with over-the-top flamboyance on the show, displaying stereotypically gay mannerisms. What he did not disclose was that he was gay, Mr. Michaud said, fearing that to tell the truth about his sexual orientation would have ended his career.

I wonder if he ever felt the clock was ticking on his career...

Tick... tick... tick...?

What do you think, Althouse? Do you think that, maybe, the producers of Laugh-In felt that if they censored him, then they would have to censor another, and they would find themselves tumbling down the slippery slope?

Do you, Althouse, think that the willingness to BE YOURSELF, openly and honestly, has significant implications, even in today's world?

I would really to like to hear Althouse's opinion in more detail!

Jason (the commenter) said...

I remember seeing that show as a child (Nick at Night) but not identifying any of the characters as gay.

I think I learned about gay people on the radio, from Rush Limbaugh, and the first I can remember seeing them on TV was in Tales of the City when it was on PBS.

dbp said...

Half the people on TV back in the late 60's and early 70's seem gay in retrospect. At the time, it just seemed like wacky 60's humor.

ricpic said...

So there really was an Alan Sues. Coulda fooled me. I always thought he was Jo Anne Worley in drag.

Psychedelic George said...

For my money, the weirdest show in the 1960s was one that seemed the most normal...The Andy Griffith Show.

Here was a small Southern town that had no black people in it. Not one! Ever.

In fact, there were scads of pseudo gay men on TV in the 1960s. But no black men or women, really. What a stranglehold a few major media corporations had on mass distributed media reality. Our own version of Pravda.

edutcher said...

J. R. said...

No offense, but I thought the way Sues acted made him look like a fool. Lord knows, a great many "gay" performers could act normally when they wanted, so why act like an guy lampooning women's behavior?

"No offense" or not, I think that that comment is offensive. Especially since that derogatory comment is directed toward a man who has just died.

To many people, Alan Sues was a ground-breaker and an inspiration. He could easily have been cut out of Laugh-In because of his open display of homosexuality, but he represented the truth. He bravely confronted the spectre of censorship head-on.


Not offensive (and I'm glad we all voted), just honest. Most people saw Alan Sues and said (at least internally), "What a nut".

If Sues was an inspiration for some homosexuals to get in touch with their inner whatever, it portrays what is supposed to be "normal", according to the Left and the homosexual rights crowd, as anything but.

And I'm willing to bet he was hired because he played the over the top thing. Remember, Laugh-In came on as the Lefties were starting to assert their control over the media and his expressionism was part of the in-your-face destruction of values that was being pushed on the country.

Again, not picking a fight, but that's the way most of the country saw, and sees, people like him and Jm J Bullock.

Lem said...

A Boy Named Sue..

J. R. said...

I am proud that Althouse honors Alan Sues here on her blog.

But I wonder if Alan Sues ever felt anxiety?

Perhaps he felt that his homosexuality could be determined by the powers-that-be to be "too open" at any time, and he could be deleted from the Laugh-In show?

Perhaps that anxiety is similar to how a commenter might feel, wondering if his or her comment, submitted truthfully and honestly, might be deleted by the Blog Mistress at any moment?

Sometimes it seems that I can really feel what Alan Sues felt, openly portraying homosexuality at a time when it could be (very easily) censored...

Have you ever felt this way, Althouse? If you haven't felt this sort of anxiety regarding freedom of speech, perhaps you ought to think about it... especially considering that you teach about that very dear subject!

But I'm sure you have thought very conscientiously about it, Althouse. Otherwise it wouldn't make sense for you to post a tribute to Alan Sues on your blog, would it?

Palladian said...

"I think I learned about gay people on the radio..."

I learned about gay people in the early 80's. I remember that I was at the home of some relatives and they were watching the morning news. There was a story about AIDS (which had really started to make the mainstream news by then) and they were running a stock clip of a gay pride parade. I was about to head out the door for my walk to the bus stop when one of my relatives, who was watching the news, blurted out: "Do you know what those people do? They put their things in each other's mouths! Their private parts!"

I don't remember if I even responded, but I do remember being haunted by the image of boys putting their privates in each other's mouths all day. Suddenly, my unfocused infatuation for a classmate named Lance (yes, really) had an objective, a goal.

Nothing seemed more forbidden, and more exciting, and from that day long ago, to this one, it's been a central focus of my life.

Palladian said...

Oh look, Julius has been resurrected.

J. R. said...

Palladian, that is a very touching story. Youth is a tremendously powerful time.

It is stories like you have shared that allow us to open our minds to larger things.

Wouldn't you hate to live in a world where your story, or your thoughts that come to mind based on Althouse's post, would be censored?

Lem said...

I remember teasing a child friend.. he was the kid brother to my uncles future wife. We lived in Santiago.

We were in our early teens and this kid could not swing a bat and trow a ball the way he was supposed to.

The teasing never got physical but.. I did sort of apologised to him when we were reunited much later as adults (here in the US) and he came out to me.. and told me how difficult it had been growing up with a homophobic father.

ricpic said...

It is stories like you have shared that allow us to open our minds to larger things.

And our mouths, too.

ndspinelli said...

I thought it was Chet Huntley who was gay?

Where's Titus when we need him?

ironrailsironweights said...

By kissing the beaver.

Unless you're referring to an actual castor canadenses, this is today a tragically obsolete expression.

God damn it.

Peter

J. R. said...

@ricpic-

And our mouths, too.

Ahhh... I open wide! See, Althouse, there is just the sort of gratuitously snarky comment that you could delete... but you don't! Good for you!

It's wonderful how the influence of people like Alan Sues has permeated our society so much that tolerance of unusual viewpoints is now everywhere... and comments like this persist, without the damned dark hand of the blog owner censoring them.

J. R. said...

Where's Titus when we need him?

You know, it's because of people like Alan Sues that commenters like Titus can come and spout their nonsense without being censored. Sues blazed the trail that Titus now follows.

Titus's comments are certainly unusual. And usually provocative. It's good that Althouse allows unusual and provocative comments on her blog!

ricpic said...

Up yours, J.R., the way you like it.

Psychedelic George said...

Ho Chi Minh...The Flying Nun...Patty Duke's English cousin...Bullwinkle, that squirrel...Natasha...Grandpa Munster...Everett Dirksen...

Lem said...

Anyways..

I'm off to watch a boxing (hopefully) match.

I may be able to chime in if theres intertubes overtheres.

rcommal said...

Homosexuality has always existed, and--gasp!--it even has always existed in and on TeeVee, from earlier and earliest times. That's not shocking, nor should it be.

Bender said...

Re: stereotypically flamboyant gay mannerisms

Remember, it is not a choice to act that way, they were born that way.
________________

Yeah, me too. I never thought of Lynde, Riley, et al. as "gay," just funny -- I saw them as persons, not as labels or props to be used for ideological purposes.

F said...

Nothing to say about Sues, but with a wv of

"flobs"

I just couldn't resist the need to post.

"flobs": slobs that flub up.

Bender said...

Frankly, it is none of my business -- or any of yours -- where Sues or Sulu or Rock Hudson liked to put it.

rcommal said...

ricpic is what ricpic is: I may not like what ricpic is, but so long as what ricpic doesn't like and what ricpic would prefer to be eradicated doesn't rule the day, I'm OK with ricpic. That statement also applies in a whole number of other contexts, which can be executed just by replacing "ricpic" with something else.

(It's easy to see the spots for replacing words by looking for the red dots under "ricpic"! Ain't word-processing engines, including blog-commenting ones, grand?)

Dead Julius said...

Frankly, it is none of my business -- or any of yours -- where Sues or Sulu or Rock Hudson liked to put it.

That is-- now!-- generally accepted. But it wasn't in the past, and certainly not when Laugh-In was operating. In fact, even as late at the 1990s there were national politicians spouting vile hatred toward gay people, some of it even on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. I would tell you how my former Congressman referred to gay people, but Althouse won't let me. Apparently it is too detrimental to her political cause to have it written here.

Titus said...

I never heard of him or have seen this guy before.

Go Honey Badgers!

Old Dad said...

My Old Dad loved "Laugh-In," and by modern standards, he was racist, sexist, and homophobic as hell. But he wasn't.

He was born in 1925, the son of an immigrant coal miner in a little town outside Pittsburgh. His Old Dad is buried in a cemetery where most of the gravestones have names with very few vowels.

He grew up with iteys, polocks, bohunks, kikes, and a few niggers. The krauts and irish were second generation and were rich. They lived on the other side of the tracks--literally in the case of my Old Dad.

They called each other awful names, by our lights, but they laughed and played and worked together and went to each others' funerals.

And they could tell and take a joke. So, the Lithuanian says to the Kraut foreman.....

That's not to excuse the awful way we treat one another, but sometimes we mistake our friends, and forget how to laugh.

wild chicken said...

there were so many gay types, but as a kid I never knew what was going on. Charles Nelson Reilly, Paul Lynde, this guy Sues, then character actors in old movies on TV like Hugh Herbert..even Jack Benny was pretty gay acting. To a kid they were just Funny Men.

Psychedelic George said...

HAL...all those marvelous lights Beyond the Infinite.

But the Pam Am space cruiser sexing down the rotating space station...not gay.

rcommal said...

I learned about gay people in the early 80's.

I don't remember when I first realized that gay people existed and were part of our lives, but I do remember when it was brought starkly home to me how risky it was to be an "out" homosexual. Not by the court rulings, by the way, one of which I just linked to, but on account of the person involved, whom I knew personally and was so fond of before I entered my teens, and prior to and when he was actually fired.

Titus said...

I did not care for the Paul Lynde's or Charles Nelson Reilly's.

I was more into the brooding sexing Monty Clift and Sal Mineo. For me it is really all about hotness. I may sound like a big Mary but when it is time to work I know how to wear many masks. As a result I hit pay dirt with my amazing Indian/British husband with huge arms who is part of the Upper Caste. He's younger and hotter than me but pays.

I am dragging my feet because I have to go to a fucking holiday party tonight. It started at 8 and I haven't left yet. Fucking Yankee Swap-the queen said the maximum for the gift is $100.00 I was like fuck you. These are previous people I went to school with so I will go because I said I will. There is a level of fabulousness with this group that I deteste. They have two weiner dogs named Stan and Ollie that never go out and piss and shit on some pad they said up in their "dog bedroom"...gross. They always tell me I am antisocial. I am like, yea, and what else?

There is this dyke power couple that all the fags fawn over in this group. The dykes invited like 50 of their closest friends for an all paid trip to Hawaii for their fucking wedding. Now the queens surround them hoping for another invite to some exotic locale. Totally gross.

The husband dyke hit it big during the dot.com boom. Now she is the director of the Girls Scouts. So if you are sending your little jewels to girl scouts just know the head of the thing is a big fucking dyke.

Where are my prada loafers...off I go.

tits.

m stone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcommal said...

Also, just to contribute a fun fact, which is--factually and contextually--entirely separate from my previous comments: One of the people involved in Laugh-In was, of all things, a classmate of my parents at DePauw University, and they always spoke fondly and admiringly of her.

Phil 3:14 said...

Was he gay?! Next you're going to tell me Paul Linde was gay.

rcommal said...

I can't believe our parents let us watch that show. Fortunately, most of it went over our heads.

My father explicitly said that if--at our ages at the time, was the context--we demonstrated that we were getting the adult jokes, then we had gotten too old to be young enough to watch the show with them.

I got cut off. My beloved brother (God bless him), on the other hand, got to watch it with them in real time until it ended.

That SO figures. (More important, it makes so much sense, now, 40 years later.) LOL!

MadisonMan said...

Laugh-In wasn't on CBS so I never saw it (We only got CBS at my house).

Ralph L said...

There'd been plenty of fruity characters in old movies, and Truman Capote was already a TV celebrity.

William said...

Noel Coward was cool. How come he never became a gay icon?

jacksonjay said...

What about Little Richard?

jacksonjay said...

Julius must be talkin bout my ex-Congressman, professor, and neighbor - Richard "Dick" Armey!

rcommal said...

Noel Coward was cool. How come he never became a gay icon?

Googling "noel coward gay icon" at this particular point in time--now! live!--returns this result at the very top of the list.

So.

robinintn said...

Titus' posts make life worth living.

rcommal said...

True curiosity implies an irresistible impulse to discover, find out, learn, research. It's entirely distinct from idle questions and idly questioning--the very lazy mindsets of those who have no work ethic when it comes to information, let alone facts.

rcommal said...

Titus' posts make life worth living.

Don't know about that (it reeking of hyperbole, as it does), but having experienced Titus' posts for something akin to half of a decade now, his contributions to the tapestry are indisputable--and after all, there ain't no tapestry worth its threads if it lacks stand-out, sparkling weavings. Capiche?

bagoh20 said...

I was around 12 when laugh in was on. I loved it and looked forward to it all week long - it was on Mondays. My Mom even let me skip homework until after it was over. I Remember Sues, but don't remember me or anyone else having any opinion about his gayness, which was clearly the character he was playing.

People were accepting of gay characters as long as they stayed 1 dimensional. The improvement in tolerance today is that they can express interest in a same sex partner, and allude to or talk about having a romantic relationship. That would have been going too far in 1970.

Still, back then as with racism, I think we were more tolerant than young people today think we were.

Titus said...

I am back from the holiday party and it was disgusting.

I arrived at the tail end of the Yankee Swap but I saw the gifts. Fabulous cook books with special hot mits designed by some queen I never heard of, champaign brunches, wood working classes, a night in Northampton amongst the diesels, candle making, pedis and manis, massages, facials. And I am totally serious.

I was informed that Michael's lover Matthew was in Kuwait on business doing something very strategic and important....thanks Michael you dusch and I kind of hate you.

Of course, fags were surrounding rich dykes who titillated them with some Greek Islands trip in the spring.

Everyone is going to Ptown for the New Years. Dinner will be at Lorraines, which I guess has amazing Tex/Mex-Yuck. The rich older dyke informed me their "cottage" is on the West End and they are in the process of a huge expansion. Michael Cunningham and John Waters had to approve before construction began, natch.

They were all desperate to meet my India/UK husband but I was like no fucking way whores because it will never happen.

And I knew it, but we all had to be enamored by the new art piece the fag couple purchased from Bar Harbor. I was reminded that The Stonewall Kitchen Queens and Martha Stewart had the same piece in their Maine homes.

And Stan and Ollie (the weiner dogs) were constantly puking because they were eating the crumbs from the fabulous dishes that were being served.

And people wonder why I am anti social and just want to stay home.

Thank God for Vodka.

rcommal said...

Best post EVAH, Titus. And by that I mean: ever.

Salud y amor y tiempo para disfrutarlo

Gary Rosen said...

"Had barely been born when the show was on"

Oh bullshit C-fudd. You're an aging boomer pushing 60:

Here's

the proof

Every time Ann posts some boomer nostalgia Fudd weighs in to explain how he did *not* remember it because he is too young. What a vain old douchebag.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

@Paddy O said...

"All the Batman villains"

Burgess Meredith was gay?!


That also means that Julie Newmar and Lee Meriweather lesbians.


That thought will likely keep me going all day!

wv - shnizem: Favorite expression of Pvt. Golem Pyle

madAsHell said...

Here's the proof

WOW!!