The Daily Agenda for Friday, August 22

Jim Burroway

August 22nd, 2014

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Chico, CA; Columbia, MO; Cornwall, UK; Derry/Londonderry, UK; Erie, PA; Galway, Ireland; Kassel, Germany; Lansing, MI; Manchester, UK; Mocton, NB; Norfolk, VA; Salem, OR; Sligo, Ireland; Stockton, CA; Toledo, OH; Torquay, UK; Ventura, CA; Waterloo, IA.

Other Events This Weekend: Big Bear Adventure Weekend, Big Bear Lake, CA; Michigan March to the Capital, Lansing, MI; Camp Camp, Portland, ME; AIDS Red Ribbon Ride, Rochester, NY; Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Vancouver, BC.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), May 1975, page 16.

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), May 1975, page 16.

 90 YEARS AGO: James Kirkwood, Jr.: 1924-1989. With both parents as silent film stars and his father a director, it should surprise no one that the future author and Pulitzer prize-winning playwright would begin his career as an actor. In 1953, on the CBS soap opera Valiant Lady, Kirkwood played the title character’s son, Mickey Emerson. The fifteen minute program was a noontime fixture for four years, broadcast daily from New York. You can see one complete episode here, complete with organ music and commercials. (“Mickey” makes his appearance at 5:24, but you won’t want to miss the melodrama preceding that scene.)

That Kirkwood’s debut should be on Valiant Lady should also surprise no one, given that in his young life he had already experienced more twists and turns than could be portrayed on any soap opera. His parents’ careers were already fizzling by the time he was born, and the millionaire couple was soon flat broke. They divorced when he was seven after his mother left the family. Biographer Sean Egan, author of Ponies & Rainbows: The Life of James Kirkwood, writes that the younger Kirkwood stumbled upon the dead body of his divorced mother’s fiancée when he was twelve, endured kamikaze attacks when serving in the Coast Guard during World War II, and befriended Clay Shaw, the only man to be put on trial in connection with the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

With all of that going for him, it’s no wonder he decided to try his hand at comedy. His first semi-biographical novel, There Must Be A Pony! was based on the scandal surrounding his mother’s dead fiancée. Another novel, P.S. Your Cat Is Dead was turned into a stage play and a film by Steve Guttenberg. Kirkwood’s crowning achievement was the book he co-wrote with Nicholas Dante for A Chorus Line, which earned him a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1976. He also wrote the comedy Legends! which toured the U.S. with Mary Martin and Carol Channing in 1987, and was revived in 2006 starring Joan Collins and Linda Evans. But for the most part, the fame from A Chorus Line proved to be more of a distraction than a boost, and the last fourteen years of his life were more notable for his unproduced screen plays, stage projects, and the epic novel about his father that he never finished. Kirkwood died of spinal cancer in 1989.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?


August 22nd, 2014

“Syphilis rates continue to soar in Vancouver, [B.C.] prompting the latest warning for gay and bisexual men to get tested for the sexually transmitted disease.

Public health officials say men who have sex with men are at the highest risk of infection.”

“Medical health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson says syphilis rates in 2012 across the Lower Mainland were at their highest in 30 years, and the numbers climbed further in 2013.”

“Syphilis is spread primarily by oral, vaginal or anal sex, and early symptoms such as rashes or painless sores disappear, but if left untreated the disease can lead to blindness, hearing loss, deep bone pain and even death.”


August 22nd, 2014

Not only was James Kirkwood a friend of Clay Shaw, who was unjustly Witch hunted by Garrison with a totally unfounded fantasy about Clay Shaw being involved in the Kennedy assassination; James Kirkwood wrote a book about the whole witch hunt against Clay Shaw called American Grotesque that told the whole sordid and shameful story.

Timothy Kincaid

August 22nd, 2014

Loved “p.s. your cat is dead”. Didn’t see the movie but the novel is great fun.


August 22nd, 2014

In 1975, how many titles would be available to that “exclusive gay bookstore”?

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