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Forman Brown (January 8, 1901 - January 10, 1996) was one of the world's leaders in puppet theatre in his day, as well as an important early gay novelist. He was a member of the Yale Puppeteers and the driving force behind Turnabout Theatre. He was born in Otsego, Michigan, in 1901 and died in 1996, two days after his 95th birthday. Brown briefly taught at North Carolina State College, followed by an extensive tour of Europe.

Forman's Yale Puppeteers, which he established upon graduating from University of Michigan (class of 1922), opened a puppet theatre in Los Angeles in 1941 (the Turnabout Theater) that attracted celebrity attention and support from some of Hollywood's biggest names, e.g., Greta Garbo, Marie Dressler, and Douglas Fairbanks, as well as other notable figures including Albert Einstein. Brown wrote all the songs and sketches for the troupe's productions. Regular performers included Elsa Lanchester and Odetta. Bette Midler recently sang one of Forman's songs, Mrs. Pettibone, at a Los Angeles AIDS benefit.

Along with Yale Puppeteers Harry Burnett and Richard Brandon (Brown's life-long lover), Brown launched Turnabout Theatre in 1941 as "a vehicle for performing both puppet plays and revues for adults." Turnabout Theatre was a highly popular puppetry venue until its dissolution in 1956. Reversible seats were installed in the theatre so that after the puppet shows were performed at one end of the auditorium, the puppeteers asked the audience to "turnabout" their seats for the Turnabout revue staged at the opposite end of the auditorium.

In 1933, he wrote, under the pseudonym Richard Meeker, a controversial novel called Better Angel about a young man coming to terms with his homosexuality. This novel is regarded as "the first American novel to present the 'gay' experience in a healthy light."


Harry Burnett, Forman Brown, and Richard Brandon (lt. to rt.)
Forman Brown was one of the world's leaders in puppet theatre, as well as an important early gay novelist. Along with Yale Puppeteers Harry Burnett and Richard Brandon (Brown's life-long lover), Brown launched Turnabout Theatre in 1941 as "a vehicle for performing both puppet plays and revues for adults." In 1933, Brown wrote, under the pseudonym Richard Meeker, a novel called Better Angel: this novel is regarded as "the first American novel to present the 'gay' experience in a healthy light."




Richard Brandon, the youngest of the three Yale Puppeteers, was the first to die. He was 80 when he died at Turnabout House in Hollywood, the home the three men had occupied for the last several years.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forman_Brown
In his 1933 novel Better Angel, Richard Meeker directly attacked "the professors" ad "fools... (for) manufactur(ing) all sorts of shifts and silly dodges to avoid calling Shakespeare an invert." Meeker announced to his readers that Shakespeare "loved the boy actor (the object of many Shakespeare's sonnets), and he celebrated his love in the finest... poetry of his whole career." His novel also asserted that Marcel Proust, Andre Gide, and Thomas Mann were part of a gay canon and were valuable guides in their own right to the literature of homosexuality. --Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 by George Chauncey

Forman Brown with his cousin Harry Burnett, 1989-90, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1082039)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)


Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=elimyrevandra-20
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=elimyrevandra-20

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher

Date: 2012-01-10 09:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elena-62.livejournal.com

Thank you, Elisa!

It might be worth mentioning that ''Better Angel'' is legally downloadable as PDF_File here from the University of Florida Digital Collections:
http://ufdcimages.uflib.ufl.edu/UF/00/07/57/11/00001/UF00075711.pdf

or as an audiobook here:
http://librivox.org/better-angel-by-richard-meeker/

I downloaded a very long time ago and I haven't managed yet to read it...

Ciao

Antonella

Date: 2012-01-10 10:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elisa-rolle.livejournal.com
I didn't know it Antonella, thank you for the link.

Date: 2012-01-11 07:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tizi17.livejournal.com
thank you, that is great!

Date: 2012-01-11 09:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elisa-rolle.livejournal.com
and the book is "legally" free too

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