Queer Ladies in Hollywood: Vintage Edition #7
Eva Le Gallienne was a British theater actress, producer, and director born in London in 1899. Her parents separated when she was young and she lived her childhood moving between Paris and Britain. Le Gallienne, known as LeG by the critics, founded the Civic Repertory Theatre in the former Fourteenth Street Theatre in the 1920s, backed financially by her lover Alice DeLamar. The theater was very successful but, unfortunately, was disbanded in 1934 due to economic difficulties brought on during the Great Depression. Some of Le Gallienne’s most famous roles throughout her career include the title role of Peter Pan in the 1928 stage revival and the role of Queen Elizabeth in the 1950’s off-Broadway production of Mary Stuart.
Although her career was primarily tied to theater, Le Gallienne also found roles in film and television. She earned an Oscar nomination for her work in the 1980 film Resurrection and won an Emmy for a televised version of the play The Royal Family. Le Gallienne won a special Tony in 1964 for her theatre work and a National Medal of Arts in 1986. She died in Connecticut in 1991.
Le Gallienne was completely out to those in the industry, and although most of her acquaintances knew she was a lesbian, she tried to maintain some privacy with the public. Her sexuality did not affect her career, possibly because in the early days she spent time with outspoken and bisexual actress Tallulah Bankhead, and actresses Estelle Winwood and Blyth Daly. She was also part of Alla Nazimova’s Sewing Circle, which contained a lot of successful lesbian and bisexual actresses.
Le Gallienne had many affairs with famous ladies of the time, one of which was a brief involvement with Alla Nazimova. In 1920 Le Gallienne began dating poet, novelist, and playwright Mercedes de Acosta. The two vacationed and traveled together often. In 1960 de Acosta published her personal memoir titled Here Lies the Heart. The content of the memoir that covered de Acosta and Le Gallienne’s relationship created a rift between the two women. Later, Le Gallienne was involved with actress Josephine Hutchinson who at the time was married. When Hutchinson’s husband asked for a divorce, he claimed that it was due to Le Gallienne’s involvement with his wife. During Le Gallienne’s later years she stayed in her longest lasting relationship with actress Marion Evensen.
Written By MK McFadden
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