Before Glee, There was Mr. Belvedere.
Clifton Webb's triumph over the Hollywood system.
Of all Hollywood’s great sissies, Clifton Webb played the most talented and experienced, the wittiest and most beloved, in the classic 1948 box-office hit Sitting Pretty. Webb’s achievement—overcoming the underestimation of homophobes—casts a bright light on contemporary gay characterizations.
During the American film industry’s 20th-century peak, the practice of stereotyping and marginalizing queerness produced several performers who acted “effeminate” (Grady Sutton, Franklin Pangborn, Tony Randall), always without on-screen love lives or acknowledged partners. Their reputations endure as “character actors,” distinctive-looking eccentrics who made an art out of representing the country’s hoi polloi: neighbors, co-workers, and shopkeepers you run into every day without ever participating in their personal…