Actor, Author, Monster, Gay Icon: Thomas Tryon

From Last June - Some Gay Horror History:

Actor, author, bon vivant ; Thomas Tryon lived the kind of life most have only dreamed of.

After a stint in the armed services , Tryon entered Yale University where he studied art history.  Shortly thereafter, he switched his major to acting and eventually found his way to the stage.  In a few short years, Tryon lucked out and made his way to films.  In spite of his good looks, and decent acting abilities, Tryon had to muddle through taking roles in several horror / sci-fi / b-films.

One of Tryon's most infamous roles was that of Bill Farell, an alien passing as a red blooded All American Male in I Married A Monster From Outer Space.

Bill's wife (Gloria Talbot) realizes rather quickly, that her hunky hubby might have a secret.  He does not drink, smoke, or like sports - he's just not like the husbands of her friends...and since this was the 50's there could only be two reasons for a man  acting this way, he's either a commie or a monster! 

Considering the theme of this film, and the fact that Tryon was a gay man, he probably incorporated his real life dilemma (trying to pass as a straight man) into the way he played Bill Farell, who, after all, was trying to pass himself off as something he really was not.

After Monster..., Tryon landed  less flamboyant roles in  more mainstream films.  Two roles that brought him a lot of notoriety were in the World War II themed films, In Harm's Way and The Longest Day.

Tyron almost ended up making  a film with Marilyn Monroe when he was cast with her in the film, Something's Got to Give, however, when Monroe dropped out of the film, it was recast and Tryon was dropped.

Tryon's swan song in cinema came after he was constantly humiliated by Director (and noted son of a bitch) Otto Preminger on the set of the film, The Cardinal.  Even though he garnered a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in this film, Tryon, thanks to the bullying of his director, soured on acting and turned to writing.

In 1971, Tryon published, The Other, a terrifying tale of a little boy and his "twin" brother who wreak havoc on a small farm in rural Minnesota in 1935. The book was later made into a film (with Tryon penning the screen play).

The follow up to The Other was Harvest Home, a phenomenally disturbing tale about a New York City couple and their young daughter who pull up stakes and settle down in the bucolic hamlet of Cornwall Coombe Connecticut only to discover that the quaint village has a deep dark, pagan secret.

Over the years, Thomas Tryon moved on from the macabre and started publishing more mainstream novels including the celebrated collection of novella's Crowned Heads,  and Lady.

Writing proved to be a perfect fit for Tryon, who, as the 70's progressed, became more comfortable in his skin, and while he never openly proclaimed his sexuality, he seemed to be coming to terms with who he really was...to a point.

Always seen at the best clubs, discos and art openings in Gotham, Tryon began dating men in the arts - a long term relationship occurred when he met, Cal Culver (who was known to gay porn fans as Casey Donovan) - the duo continued a high profile relationship for several years, until Tryon grew  weary of his partner's notoriety , and how it might hurt his career as a mainstream novelist.   The monster was still not strong enough to break out of the closet, it seemed.

Thomas Tryon continued writing up until his death in 1991 from Cancer, he was 61 when he died.

At the time of his death, Tryon had just finished, Night Magic, a modern re-telling of The Sorcerer's Apprentice with a much darker undertone as the book's hero not only must choose between fame and his immortal soul, he must also choose between a malevolent but fascinating older man, or the love of a decent girlfriend.   It would seem that even in his twilight years, Tryon was still struggling with that same monster he had confronted many years earlier.


Prospero said...

I've read "The Other" and "Harvest Home" and loved them (and the movies based on them). Now I'll have to seek out "Night Magic."

A_Wonder_Book_Of_Rockets said...

Get outta town! I had no idea that he was gay. Thanks for enlightening me Pax.

Jack Veasey said...

I didn't know either. Several things about him make a whole lot more sense to me now.