January 17th People

January 17th

01-17-1922 – 12-31-2021 Betty White – Born in Oak Park, Illinois. She was an American actress, animal rights activist, LGBT supporter, author, comedienne, radio host, singer, and television personality. She is one of the first women to have control both in front and behind the camera, and is the first woman to produce a sitcom. On the Larry King Show she said, “I don’t care whom you sleep with. It’s ‘what kind of a human being are you?’ I don’t understand [why people are anti-gay], it’s such a personal private business and it’s none of mine.” White was a long-time supporter of LGBT rights and was championed as a gay icon. She had publicly come out in support of gay marriage and has worn purple on Spirit Day. She passed away at her home in Brentwood, California.

 01-17-1897 – 10-19-1981 Nils Asther – Born in Hellerup, Denmark. He was a Danish-born Swedish actor active in Hollywood from 1926 to the mid-1950s. Known for his beautiful face he was often called “the male Greta Garbo.” “Sailor” was a favored term of Garbo’s meaning male, usually bisexual, friends. On location in Catalina with Aster, she was overheard berating the actor for grabbing her so roughly. “I’m not one of your sailor friends,” she reminded him. The source of the quote was Ken DuMain, a former WWII sailor who became a “bit” actor and extra. He met Asther on Hollywood Blvd. in the 1940s and enjoyed a long term relationship with him. Aster worked with Joan Crawford on Our Dancing Daughters, 1929, and in Dream of Love, 1928. Crawford is said to have believed Aster to be gay. In 1935 Asther found he could no longer get jobs in Hollywood after he was put on a studio-based blacklist after an alleged breach of contract and dogged by persistent rumors of homosexuality. Between 1935 and 1940 he was forced to work in England. He made six films there. He returned to Hollywood in 1940, and although he made 19 films up until 1949, his career was never the same. In 1958, he went to Sweden and managed to get an engagement with a local theatre. He got four film roles in Sweden and Denmark before finally giving up acting in 1963. For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Nils Asther has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6705 Hollywood Blvd. He died in Sweden in 1981.

01-17-1905 – 02-12-2007 Peggy Gilbert – Born in Sioux City, Iowa. She was an American jazz saxophonist and bandleader. In the 1930s and 1940s, she and her band performed in the most famous nightclubs, including the Cotton Club and the Cocoanut Grove. It was at one of these places that she met and fell in love with vaudevillian and contortionist Kay Boley, who was also performing. The couple remained together for more than sixty years. “If she had been a man, she would have been considered one of the great American band leaders,” contends music historian Jeannie Pool, but the music establishment “kept dismissing girl players as a novelty act, a freak show.” In the 1974, Gilbert founded the Dixie Belles, a band composed of older women musician. The group performed on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1981. They went on to perform on many other television programs, including The Golden Girls, Father Murphy, Dharman and Greg, Married with Children, and Ellen.

01-17-1975   Bisi Alimi – Born in Legos, Nigeria. He is a Nigerian gay rights activist, public speaker, and HIV/LGBT advocate. He was the first Nigerian to come out on television. In 2004 he was diagnosed with HIV. His decision to come out of the closet generated both admiration and death threats. Alimi was disowned by his family and most of his friends, including some in the gay community. He was also thrown out of his home. On April 12, 2007, he fled from Nigeria following threats to his life. He was granted asylum in 2009 by the UK and in 2014 became a British citizen. Alimi was listed third on the 100 most influential Non White Atheist and Free Thinkers in Britain and Northern Ireland. The Gay UK LGBT 2014 Honour List recognized his exemplary work for Education in the LGBT Community. On November 5, 2016, Alimi and his partner, Anthony Davis married in the UK. 

01-17-1947 Dale McCormick – Born in New York City, New York. She is a former member of the Maine Senate from the 18th District. She was the first out gay member of the Maine State Legislature. McCormick was in office from January 1997 to January 2005. She has served as state treasurer and as director of the Maine State Housing Authority. She currently serves on the city council of Augusta, Maine. Her wife is Betsy Sweet.

01-17-1990 Tom Bosworth – Born in Sevenoaks, United Kingdom. He is a British race walker who holds three tom-bosworthBritish records. Bosworth came out as gay on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show on October 13, 2015. In the interview he told the BBC that he had been in “a really happy relationship” for more than 4 years. He proposed to and was accepted by his fiancé, Harry Dineley on Copacabana Beach during the Rio Olympics. Bosworth was one of 49 out LGBT athletes at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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