January 10th People

January 10th

01-10-1939 – 02-12-1976 Sal Mineo – Born in The Bronx, New York City, New York. He was an American film and theatre actor, best known for his performance as John “Plato” Crawford opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for his roles in Rebel Without a Cause and Exodus. In the late 1960s, Mineo became one of the first major actors in Hollywood to publicly acknowledge that he was gay. In 1969, he returned to the stage to act and direct a Los Angeles production of the play Fortune and Men’s Eyes, featuring the then-unknown Don Johnson as Smitty. In the play, P.S. Your Cat is Dead, he had received many positive reviews reviving his career. The play was moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Mineo arrived at his apartment in West Hollywood after a rehearsal on February 12, 1976, when he was stabbed to death. In March 1979, pizza deliveryman Lionel Ray Williams was sentenced to 57 years in prison for killing Mineo and for ten robberies in the same area. Williams claimed that he had no idea who Mineo was.

01-10-1938 – 05-30-2015   Jim Bailey – Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was an American singer, actor, and female impersonator. As a teenager, he studied opera at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, and was on the television show, The Children’s Hour for almost a year. He is best remembered for his impressions of Judy Garland, Phyllis Diller, Peggy Lee, and Barbra Streisand. His fame began in the late 1960s and he appeared on concert stages around the world, including Las Vegas hotels, nine times at  Carnegie Hall in New York, and seventeen times at The Palladium Theater in London. Bailey also performed for the British Royal Family twice and for four U.S. Presidents. Bailey performed at benefits for AIDS research as well. He died at his home in Los Angeles, California, on May 30, 2015 from complications due to pneumonia.

01-10-1927 – 02-24-1990   Johnnie Ray – Born in The Dalles, Oregon. He was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. He was popular in the 1950s and had a major influence on what would become rock and roll. Tony Bennett called Ray the “father of rock and roll” and music historians have called him a pioneer in the development of it. Ray, who was partially deaf, began singing professionally at age fifteen. He was discovered in 1951 in a small, predominantly African-American nightclubs in Detroit and signed to Columbia Records. In 1969, Ray headlined a European concert tour with Judy Garland. In 1951, prior to his fame, he was arrested for accosting and soliciting an undercover police officer for sex in the restroom of the Stone Theatre, a burlesque house, in Detroit. In 1952, Ray married Marilyn Morrison. Morrison told a friend she would “straighten it out,” referring to his attraction to men. They separated in 1953 and divorced in 1954. In 1959, Ray was arrested again in Detroit for soliciting an undercover officer at the Brass Rail, described later as a gay bar. Two years after his death, several friends told biographer Johnny Whiteside that they knew Ray was bisexual.

(Photo c. 1952)   

01-10-1918 -11-03-2003 Aaron Bridgers – Place of birth unknown. He was an African-American jazz pianist. Bridgers was jazz composer Billy Strayhorn’s lover from 1939 until Bridgers moved to Paris in 1947. He is featured in the Paul Newman film Paris Blues (1967).

01-10-1917 – 04-20-1961   Kelsey Pharr – Born in Miami, Florida. He was a rhythm and blues singer best known as a member of the Delta Rhythm Boys. He graduated valedictorian of his class. While at Northwestern University, he became the first African-American to appear in a drama production of the university. Later, on Broadway, he became a cast member of Porgy and Bess. Pharr left the musical to join the Delta Rhythm Boys as a tenor. They were among the first African-American groups to appear in Miami Beach. Pharr was called “Miami’s pride and joy” and several sources noted that the singer was “openly homosexual.”  On January 21, 1941, Pharr married Mabel Mercer, a lesbian, to give her a valid passport to leave Europe and enter the U.S.  The marriage was arranged by Mercer’s lover, wealthy British boat racer, Marion “Joe” Carstairs. Pharr died of cancer in 1961. (Photo – Kelsey Pharr is on the right, bottom row.)

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