Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards Deny Being Gay Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Singer-actor Julie Andrews, along with her husband, Blake Edwards, denied claims that she was lesbian and that he was gay in an interview with Playboy magazine. Edwards, a filmmaker, was long rumored to be gay or bisexual.

Summary of Event

Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards married in 1969, when both were well known in the entertainment world. Andrews was best known for her sweet, classic governess roles in films such as Mary Poppins (1964) and The Sound of Music (1965), as well as the spectacular vocal talents that made her a child star in England during the 1940’s and a Broadway smash during the 1950’s and 1960’s. She skyrocketed to fame when she appeared on stage in such shows as My Fair Lady (1956), Camelot (1960), and The Boy Friend (1954), for which she earned critical acclaim. [kw]Andrews and Blake Edwards Deny Being Gay, Julie (Dec., 1982) [kw]Edwards Deny Being Gay, Julie Andrews and Blake (Dec., 1982) [kw]Gay, Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards Deny Being (Dec., 1982) Andrews, Julie Edwards, Blake Marriage;Blake Andrews[Andrews] Marriage;Julie Andrews[Andrews] Homosexuality;and Julie Andrews[Andrews] Homosexuality;and Blake Edwards[Edwards] Andrews, Julie Edwards, Blake Marriage;Blake Andrews[Andrews] Marriage;Julie Andrews[Andrews] Homosexuality;and Julie Andrews[Andrews] Homosexuality;and Blake Edwards[Edwards] [g]United States;Dec., 1982: Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards Deny Being Gay[02020] [c]Publishing and journalism;Dec., 1982: Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards Deny Being Gay[02020] [c]Sex;Dec., 1982: Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards Deny Being Gay[02020] Linderman, Lawrence

Edwards was best known for writing and directing The Pink Panther (1963), starring Peter Sellers, and its sequels. Edwards also wrote and directed A Shot in the Dark (1964), This Happy Feeling (1958), and 10 (1979). He directed Operation Petticoat (1959), starring Cary Grant, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), starring Audrey Hepburn, and created two popular private-eye series for television.

Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews in 1979.

(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

From the mid- to late 1960’s, following this period of immense achievement, both Andrews and Edwards experienced a series of professional failures, including their mutual film project Darling Lili (1969). Around the same time, both were having marital troubles. They began to see each other after their marriages ended. The couple’s individual successes had made them celebrities in their own right, but together, Andrews and Edwards were subjected to closer scrutiny. They continued doing film projects together, but projects that were very different from those for which they were known.

In particular, Andrews broke out of her wholesome governess image by baring her breasts in the film S.O.B. (1981) and portraying a cross-dresser in Victor/Victoria (film)[Victor Victoria (film)] Victor/Victoria (1982). The couple’s enthusiasm for these projects, which had homosexuality as themes, renewed rumors about their own sexuality. Edwards, long assumed to be gay (and not out about his sexuality), had recently directed several other films with gay themes or subtexts, in addition to the more explicitly gay Victor/Victoria. Andrews, as a Broadway and film star and vocal diva, was already well on her way to becoming an icon of gays and lesbians. The existing rumors about Edwards grew to include Andrews as well.

In 1982, journalist Lawrence Linderman sat down with Andrews and Edwards in Beverly Hills, California, on assignment for Playboy magazine Playboy magazine. (Each issue of the magazine includes an interview with a celebrity or a celebrity group or couple.) Linderman met with the couple several times to prepare for the interview, which was recorded on tape. Linderman began the interview by asking about events surrounding the couple’s first meeting. They discussed their mutual film projects and analyzed the challenges of creating an image for Andrews that would go beyond her classic, memorable roles in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music.

During the interview, the conversation came to Edwards’s later films and how the public reacted to their gay-related themes. Linderman asked Edwards to discuss Victor/Victoria and whether Edwards was dealing with his own sexuality through the film’s message. Edwards acknowledged both the theme and the idea of dealing with his own sexuality, saying he believed that everyone must go through such examinations. Edwards spoke of dealing with his fears about being gay for his own peace of mind. Linderman then asked Edwards if he thought people who watched the film would assume Edwards was implying that he was gay. Edwards accepted that audiences might make that assumption, adding that he had begun exploring sexuality in more subtle ways in other films, such as 10 and S.O.B., and that part of his goal was to get people to react to the issue.

Andrews suggested that Edwards’s style of dealing with serious and complicated issues such as the social acceptance of homosexuality was to use humor and lighthearted moments to capture truth. Linderman pressed the point by asking if Edwards was worried about the rumors that these films meant he was coming out of the closet. Edwards answered that it would not bother him if people thought he was coming out as gay. He talked about undergoing psychoanalysis, which had helped him deal with his sexuality, and about his concerns about being gay. However, he then said he was relieved to learn, through analysis, that he was heterosexual, despite having had homosexual fantasies and engaging in some childhood experimentation with other boys.

Andrews, too, spoke of being relieved after going through a similar process of analysis, asserting that most people have homoerotic feelings and that having them is a normal part of life, even for heterosexuals. She supported Edwards in his desire to use his films to talk about homosexuality and suggested that he wanted to address other social issues as well, such as race. Edwards added that it was important that he champion gay rights and be supportive of gay friends who struggled to come out of the closet. Seemingly satisfied with the couple’s explicit responses to the rumors of homosexuality, Linderman redirected the conversation. For the remainder of the interview, topics focused on other projects in which the two were working.

Impact

The manner in which Andrews and Edwards denied their homosexuality did more to fan the flames of public rumors than it did to squelch them. Though it was common for celebrities to publicly deny rumors of homosexuality, it was rare for such a denial to include mention of past homosexual experiences, fantasies, and exploration, or to have acknowledged having questioned their own sexuality. The controversy of a straight Hollywood couple speaking so openly about having had homosexual desires and experiences shocked readers of the interview. Playboy magazine Playboy’s target audience is traditionally heterosexual and male, a demographic that—particularly during the early 1980’s, the early days of the HIV-AIDS crisis—tends to openly shun homosexuality.

Andrews and Edwards openly supported homosexuality and made clear their belief that people should confront their feelings about sexuality. This perspective injected some new life into the public debate. Their support, however, did little to prove to skeptics that they were truly heterosexual, fueling further claims that their attempt to justify homosexual affinity was more of a denial than an acceptance. Despite the ensuing controversy, the Andrews and Edwards interview was a success. Andrews, Julie Edwards, Blake Marriage;Blake Andrews[Andrews] Marriage;Julie Andrews[Andrews] Homosexuality;and Julie Andrews[Andrews] Homosexuality;and Blake Edwards[Edwards]

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Andrews, Julie. Home: A Memoir of My Early Years. New York: Hyperion Books, 2008. An autobiography in which Andrews discusses intimate life details and memories from the time before she was a star.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Lehman, Peter, and William Luhr. “What Business Does a Critic Have Asking if Blake Edwards Is Gay? Rumor, Scandal, Biography, and Textual Analysis.” In Headline Hollywood: A Century of Film Scandal, edited by Adrienne L. McLean and David A. Cook. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2001. Part of the Communications, Media, and Culture series, Lehman and Luhr analyze the intersection of controversial reportage and biography.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Linderman, Lawrence. “Playboy Interview: Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards.” Playboy, December, 1982. The candid interview in which Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards discuss their career, films, and marriage, and publicly deny rumors of their homosexuality.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Stirling, Richard. Julie Andrews: An Intimate Biography. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008. A biography of Andrews exploring both the well-known and untold aspects of her public and private life. Includes some discussion of sex and sexuality.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Wolf, Stacy. A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002. A unique look at musical theater in the United States and the women, including Andrews, who reinterpreted gender roles and sexuality in their performances. Explores, for example, the “delicious queerness” of Andrews’s role as a “troublesome” nun in The Sound of Music.

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