Back in February of 2013, we published a blog asking the question, Was Van Johnson Gay?
It was about 10 months after we established classicmoviechat.com, and we were feeling our way (1,000 blogs later, we still are).
In our blog, we confessed to being fans of Johnson. That didn’t prevent us from dispassionately analyzing his somewhat convoluted personal life — his “arranged marriage” to Evie Wynn, the ex-wife of actor Keenan Wynn, the dissolution of the 21-year union in 1968 and Johnson’s estrangement from daughter Schuyler Johnson.
Notably, we concluded that: Was Johnson gay? Undoubtedly bisexual. But who really cares today, in a time when Hollywood movie and tv personalities seemingly can’t wait to tell us about all aspects of their lives, including the sexual? Johnson was a creature of his secretive times. We salute the body of work compiled over nearly half a century by “Cheery Van,” as he called himself.
Well, the response was both immediate and long lasting. Quickly, this came in:
Very interesting and very cool; I really enjoyed this. Well written and done with style.
It was signed, Schuyler Johnson. Joe was immediately impressed while Frank, at first, didn’t make the connection.
Turns out that Schuyler almost exactly 10 years ago published her account of life with her father in My Life as a Hollywood Princess. Excerpts were published in the London Sunday Mail; the memoir was described as an “unflattering first-person account” of the actor.
In any case, our Van Johnson blog has drawn numerous comments since it was published, one of the most remarked-upon pieces we’ve ever run.
In March of 2014, for example, in came this from Rosemarie:
I’m writing again. I don’t care what any one says of him. I fell in love with him since I was 13 and I am in my senior years, I will always have a place in my heart for him. I only regret that coming to the United States (I am from another country) I didn’t do my best to try to meet him. I will surely have fainted in front of him, that’s the impact that would have made in me since he was the love of my life (platonic) of course.
We also received some catty comments.
From James (May 18, 2014): An older gay friend of mine told me that it was common knowledge in the gay community at the time that Van and Keenan (Wynn) were involved, and that these rumors were becoming more an more widespread, so to squelch the gossip, the story was invented that Van was always around Keenan because he was in love with Evie. MGM felt Johnson needed to get married and obviously, marrying Evie would explain everything and put all rumors to rest.
Well, this missive drew on Jan. 27 a scorching denial from — Schuyler Johnson.
James, that is entirely untrue; Van and Keenan NEVER had relations, that is pure fabrication. Please consider your sources and verify before you spread false rumors.
Well, there you have it. Schuyler Johnson may not have always gotten along with her father, but she appears to be the keeper of the Van Johnson flame today.