The Tailor-Made Man, the powerful true story about the Hollywood studio system, and the star who gave up everything for the man he loved, is to get a 25th anniversary production at the White Bear Theatre, London.
William “Billy” Haines was a popular silent screen MGM movie star who was fired by Louis B Mayer because he was gay.
He had refused to give up his lifelong partner, Jimmie Shields, and marry the silent screen vamp Pola Negri.
As punishment, his films were removed from release and sealed in the MGM vaults never to be seen again, and his studio photographs destroyed.
It was an attempt to erase him completely from movie history. But Billy and Jimmy’s turbulent, passionate love affair was to survive and lasted over 50 years.
The cast includes Mitchell Hunt (Mr Selfridge, Hollyoaks) as William “Billy” Haines and Tom Berkeley as Jimmie Shields.
Writer, Claudio Macor, said: “Thirty years ago a friend gave me a copy of Kenneth Anger’s book Hollywood Babylon.
“As I was reading the various Hollywood scandals Kenneth Anger so vividly described I came across “The White Legion and the Purple Poodle” and discovered the story of William “Billy” Haines and Jimmie Shields.
“I was still acting at the time and dreamed of playing Billy but soon fell out of love with acting when I started writing.
“The Tailor-Made Man play premiered in London at the Hen and Chickens in 1992, it quickly got a transfer to the Battersea Arts Centre (BAC).
“This revival of the original play at the White Bear Theatre is the 25th year anniversary production. It’s actually 25 years and 25 days since the first performance!”
Until the 1930s Haines had appeared in a string of successful films and was a popular box office draw.
But his career was cut short due to his refusal to deny his homosexuality.
Billy’s fate has played a huge part in preventing movie stars from coming out to this very day.
With Jimmie’s help Billy then forged a spectacular career as an interior designer to the stars, presidents and ambassadors.
His interior design career eclipsed his film career. Billy and Jimmie were together for over 50 years.
The Tailor-Made Man runs at the White Bear Theatre, Kennington, from November 7 – 25.