01-03-1916 – 10-21-1995 Maxene Andrews – Born in Mound, Minnesota. She was one of the Andrew Sisters. With her sisters, Patty and Laverne, they were one of the most successful women’s singing groups, with 19 gold records and sales of nearly 100 million copies. They began performing in the early 1930s when the Depression wiped out their father’s business. In 1937, the trio scored their first big hit with Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen. Maxene married Lou Levy in 1941 and divorced in 1950. She adopted 2 children. She had a relationship with her manager, Lynda Wells, and adopted her. It was the only way Maxene could legally protect her lover. She was estranged from her children at the time of her death and left everything to Lynda Wells. According to a radio interview by Lynda Wells in 2019, Maxene entered a thirteen-year relationship with a woman and later Wells became Maxene’s life partner. Wells stated, “To me, being gay was not a central focus of Maxene’s life at all. Her art was. Her singing was.” Wells also said that their status as companions, and Maxene’s health issues as she got older, led Maxene to adopt her as a daughter. “There was no such thing as being married at that time, she told the interviewer, and added, “During her lifetime, there was no such thing that existed for us.”
FilmIndependent.org is raising money to make a film on her life – An All American Affair: The True Story of Maxene Andrews
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01-03-1897 – 08-01-1987 Pola Negri (b. Apolonia Chalupec) – Born in Lipno, Poland. She was a stage and film actress who achieved worldwide fame during the silent and golden eras of Hollywood and European film for her femme fatale roles. Negri was the first European film star to be invited to Hollywood, and became one of the most popular actresses in American silent film. Her two marriages, the first to Count Dambski (m. 1919; div. 1922), and Prince Mdivnai (m. 1927; div. 1931), were short lived. It was rumored that she was Valentino’s lover until his death in 1926. At his funeral, she “fainted” several times. The press considered her actions as a publicity stunt. Talullah Bankhead dismissed Negri as “The biggest phony in Hollywood, dahling! A lying lesbo, a Polish publicity hound. Had a mustache and couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag!” In the 1930’s, Negri had met oil heiress and vaudeville actress, Margaret West and in the 1940s, they became close friends. In 1957, the two women moved to San Antonio and lived together until West’s death in 1963. Negri inherited West’s estate and remained in San Antonio until her own death in 1987. (Second photo is of Pola Negri with Charlie Chaplin)
01-03-1897 – 10-01-1979 Dorothy Arzner – Born in San Francisco, California. She was an American film director. Her directorial career in feature films spanned from the late 1920s into the early 1940s. Throughout that time she was the only woman working in the field. She was a lesbian who cultivated a masculine look in her clothes and appearance. Arzner had been linked romantically with a number of actresses, but lived the last 40 years of her life with choreographer Marion Morgan. The films she directed in the 1930s launched the careers of many actresses, including Katharine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell, Sylvia Sidney, and Lucille Ball. In 1936, she became the first woman to join the newly formed Directors Guild of America.
01-03-1904 – 12-08-1990 Boris Kochno – Born in Moscow, Russia. He was a Russian poet, dancer, and librettist. In 1920 he became Sergei Diaghilev’s secretary, librettists, and main collaborator. They were briefly lovers. In 1925, Kochno had an affair with Cole Porter. In 1933 he and George Balanchine founded the ballet company, Les Ballets. At the end of WWII, he and Roland Petit founded the Ballets des Champs-Élysées. He wrote several books, including Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. Kochno died in Paris in 1990.
01-03-1893 – 08-04-1994 Irène Lagut – Born in Sucy-en-Brie, France. She was a French painter and a pupil of Picasso. She mainly painted women, children, and harlequins. In the spring of 1916, Picasso fell madly in love with her. The affair was on and off until the end of 1916, when they decided to marry. When they were going to meet family in Barcelona, she left Picasso and returned to her female lover in Paris. In 1923, she and Picasso became lovers again and one of Picasso’s most famous works, The Lovers (1923) is of the two of them. According to Picasso biographer, John Richardson, “Irène Lagut was basically a lesbian. That is why she went back and forwards between girlfriends and then boyfriends. She led a peculiar life — she had been kept by a Russian grandduke in Moscow.”
01-03-1824 – 06-21-1891 Sophia B. Packard – Born in New Salem, Massachusetts. She was an American educator. She and her life-long partner, Harriet E. Giles, opened a school for African-American women in Atlanta, Georgia that would eventually become Spelman College. With a gift of $100 from First Baptist Church of Medford, Massachusetts, and a promise of administration and financial support from the Boston-based Woman’s American Baptist Home Mission Society, the two women opened a school in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church, an African-American church in southwest Atlanta. In 1882 the American Baptist Home Mission Society made a down payment on a permanent site for the school. In 1884 John D. Rockefeller paid the balance due. He had been impressed by Packard’s vision. The school was named in honor of Rockefeller’s wife and her parents, who were longtime activists in the anti-slavery movement. Packard remained on the board of trustees and as president of the school until her death in 1891. At the time of her death the school had 464 students and a faculty of 34. It became Spelman College in 1924, and in 1929 it became affiliated with Atlanta University. Packard and Giles are buried together at Silver Lake Cemetery, Athol, Massachusetts.
01-03-1980 Telly Leung – Born in New York City, New York. He is a Chinese-American Broadway actor, singer, and songwriter. He is known for his many musical theatre roles on Broadway and his role Wes on Glee (2010-2011). In November 2011, he began starring on Broadway in Godspell, a revival at the Circle in the Square Theatre in New York. In 2015, he played Young Sam in the musical Allegiance at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre. He was born and raised in New York City and grew up in a traditional Chinese home in Brooklyn. He is openly gay.
May I ask how you found that Maxene Andrews was gay, and that Lynda Wells was her lover? I’ve been reading about the Andrews Sisters for ages and hadn’t encountered this information. Breaks my heart. I’m just wondering about the trustworthiness of the source.
Here’s one source.Scott Bowers wrote a book called Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars’ that was published by the reputable Grove Press. In it, amongst other stories, he wrote the following lines: “One evening, at yet another party where I was bartending, Maxene Andrews walked in arm and arm with a girlfriend. Maxene was a lesbian and quite open about it.” Hopefully, Lynda Wells will be able to make the documentary, “An All American Affair: The True Story of Maxene Andrews” The real heartbreak is that she wasn’t able to be who she was. Thanks for your inquiry.
Too bad she was never able to come out of the closet.
…I am a retired teacher and Vietnam vet who listens to these magnificent sisters daily. It just does not get any better than them.
Thank you for your comment. And thank you for your service.
I found a website called Film Independent that is supporting An All American Affair: The True Story of Maxene Andrews. I didn’t post the url in case it’s considered “spamming” but it’s easily found. Thanks for the article!
I knew that a film was being considered & that they were trying to raise money to get it done. I have added the information about the website. Thanks for your email. Thanks for reading my posts. Your comments are always welcomed.
Yes, thank you, Wanda! That’s exactly what I meant re: heartbreak. I really appreciate your work on this site — thanks, too, for adding information from my interview with Lynda Wells above.
It breaks MY heart to read that YOUR heart is broken because you just discovered that Maxine Andrews was a lesbian. Isn’t it wonderful that Maxine was able to find love and fulfillment in her life in the arms of TWO women. The first was a 13 year relationship and the second was with her manager and eventual adopted daughter (same sex marriage was not legal then), Lynda. So many people do not discover true love in their lives and for me, whenever I hear that someone has found it in whatever form it takes, I am overjoyed for them. On the other hand, I must feel pity for you if you are so limited in your view of the world and the wonderful, diverse spectrum of sexuality that your “heart breaks” because someone else is not like YOU! How sad……..for YOU!