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Out of the Closet, Off the Screen: The Life of William Haines (2001)

Chronicles the life of openly gay 1930s film actor William Haines, who sacrificed his Hollywood fame when he refused to end his relationship with another man.


Gabriel Rotello (screenplay), William J. Mann (book)


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Credited cast:
William Haines ... Himself (archive footage)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Chris Allen Chris Allen ... Jimmy Shields
Stockard Channing ... Narrator
Christina Crawford ... Herself
Herb Gore Herb Gore ... Older Haines
Christopher Lawford ... William Haines
William J. Mann William J. Mann ... Himself - Haines' biographer
Michael Musto ... Himself
Bob Wildman Bob Wildman ... Older Shields


In 1930, Billy Haines was America's number one box office star. Then he came out. When Louis B. Mayer ordered him to dump his lover, Jimmie Shields, Haines refused and started a second career as an interior decorator. He was sucessful and the couple lived together happily for over 50 years. This is their story. Written by Havan_IronOak@Bigfoot.com

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Release Date:

13 June 2001 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


References Brown of Harvard (1926) See more »

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User Reviews

Great Look at Haines' Life and Career
2 December 2016 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Out of the Closet, Off the Screen: The Life of William Haines (2001)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Very good documentary that takes a look at the career and personal life of William Haines. At one time Haines was a very popular silent film star who then made the switch to sound and everything was great. However, he was a homosexual, which was a big no no at the time and the MGM president offered him a deal. Pretend to be straight or get off the lot. Haines selected to stay with the man he loved and his career was over.

Haines story is a very interesting one especially when you consider he did this in the early 1930s. Even today in Hollywood actors hide their sexuality because of the backlash they could receive yet here was someone like Haines who selected the love for his partner over his career. What happened to Haines after show business was just as interesting as historians talk about the importance of his decision. There are quite a few stories about his friendship with Joan Crawford and how she helped Haines several times in his life. If you're not familiar with Haines then this is a very good way to learn his story.

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