Season 4
43 Minutes

E125 | Larry Duplechan | Movies That Made Me Gay

Larry Duplechan is the acclaimed and iconic author of 5 queer novels. They include Blackbird (considered by many the first modern Black “coming-out” novel) and the Lambda Literary Award-winning Got ’til it’s Gone. Blackbird was adapted for film in 2014, starring Mo”Nique and Isiah Washington.

In 2023, Britain’s Team Angelica published Larry’s delicious and sweeping memoir, Movies That Made Me Gay. It does double-duty as an encyclopedic and highly personal act of movie criticism, and it asks the provocative question: Can movies actually make us gay? Larry is the perfect guest to help me contemplate Pride Month in 2024.

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Larry Duplechan  00:00

Valley of the Dolls is my very favorite truly bad movie in Los Angeles and vicinity, where I grew up, in the 1960s on one of the local TV stations, there was a daily television broadcast of movies called the million dollar movie, in which they showed the same movie every day at three o’clock in the afternoon for a week. And because of the million dollar movie, I can pretty much recite the entire screenplay of Valley, this is also a true calamity. Jane starring Doris Day.

Achim Nowak  00:34

Welcome to the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. I’m your host, Achim Nowak, and I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected lives. If you like what you hear, please subscribe on any major podcast platform so you won’t miss a single one of my inspiring guests, and please consider posting an appreciative review. Let’s get started. I am absolutely delighted to welcome Larry Duplechan to the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. Larry is the acclaimed author of five novels, they include Blackbird, published in the mid 1980s and considered by many, the first modern black coming out novel. I hope you don’t mind me saying that Larry and the Lambda Literary Award winning got till it’s gone. Blackbird was adapted to a film in 1920 in 2014 starring Monique and Isaiah Washington in 2023 Britain’s team Angelica published Larry’s delicious and sweeping memoir, which does double duty as movie criticism, titled movies that made me gay. Can movies actually make us gay? Well, we’re going to have that conversation. Hi, Larry.

Larry Duplechan  02:00

Hi and Happy Pride Month.

Achim Nowak  02:04

Happy Pride Month. And gosh, as I first read your book shortly after it came out, and I reread it in preparation to the conversation here, and I was thinking, Gosh, I really can have a more perfect conversation partner than you for Pride Month, as I reread what the book is about, I would love to start with, what were your first inkling that you might be gay or you might be different, and how did you figure that out for yourself?

Larry Duplechan  02:36

I knew that I like boys the way I was supposed to like girls and grown men, for that matter, very young, like five or six years old. It wasn’t so much that I realized I might be gay, because this was the early to mid 1960s and I was a kid, and I didn’t know gay was the thing that one could be. I had no sense of it as an identity, but I did know that I liked boys. I had huge crushes on boys. I liked seeing grown men in shorts and with their shirts off, and I had an erotic dream about Ricky Nelson from The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet when I was about five or six years old. Yeah, yeah. So that was when I started having Inklings. Thank you for owning that crush. One of the things I love about so following you on Facebook, where you’re very active, you are very unabashed about all the different crutches you’ve had when it comes to actors and movie stars and when you were younger. So besides Ricky Nelson, what are a few others that come to mind? Where as he as a young person, you went, Wow,

Achim Nowak  03:51

hot. Oh, well, of course. Hot really wasn’t in my vocabulary. It was probably more like wow. Johnny Crawford from the rifleman, all the boys on my three sons, I was too young for the Tim Considine years, but certainly the rest of those boys bothered me when I was a kid. And gosh Sahid Khan from the Maya series with Dennis the Menace, whose actual name escapes me right now. Jay north, whom I also thought was awful kid, and oh, good heavens. Ronnie Howard, oh, my goodness, pretty much he’s three years older than I am, as just my husband, so he and I have had a thing that he doesn’t know about, basically from the Andy Griffith Show on that little Jugger Ginger has been one of my major crushes. He could still get it. No, no disrespect to Mrs Ron Howard, but yeah, that’s a long term crush. Very

Larry Duplechan  04:54

cool. I was thinking about how to organize our conversation, and I realized. Book is so beautifully organized around gay themes, but also what you call film festivals. And there’s an early section, and I loved it again there where I interpreted it as these are the original movies that triggered gayness in you or you connected with them. And I hope I’m not mislabeling, and we’re going to have they’re going to be a lot of omissions in this conversation, because we don’t have hours. So I’m shamelessly going to talk about some movies that you mentioned, but that stood out to me, and I love to get your take on them, the Busby Berkeley follies of 1933 so that’s early big musicals. Talk about what that movie means to you, what you like about it?

Achim Nowak  05:44

Well, that is, in fact, a troika of three movies. Yeah, that’s 42nd street gold diggers of 1933 and Footlight Parade. That because they’re so similar, because they all three came out in the year of 1933 because they’re all involved in terms of Busby Berkeley as the as the person who made the production numbers, though he didn’t direct officially, direct any of those films. I tend to think of them as one great big extravaganza, when, in fact, we’re talking about three movies. I discovered those movies when I was about 12 or 13, which was a miserable time in my life. By that point, I think I did know what gay was. I was pretty sure that I was gay. I wasn’t sure that’s what I wanted in my life. I also wasn’t sure if there was any way out of being gay. I was effeminate and bullied as effeminate boys tend to be bullied early 30s, Warner Brothers and musicals did for me what they apparently did for people in 1933 they were to raise, to lift the spirits of people who were in the Great Depression. And I was in a rather a Great Depression of my own. And so those movies gave me an escape. I mean, escape them is a cliched word, but it really was an escape from the world that I was living in. It was a world that not only didn’t exist in 1970 whatever it was that I discovered them, it’s a world obviously, that never existed at all for anyone. It was a fairy tale of sorts. And that’s what, that’s what attracted me to those movies, is that they were so different from my own life that it was they were each, you know, 80 to 90 minutes of not being who I was and where I was and in the situation that I was in. I

Larry Duplechan  07:36

want to attempt to a totally different movie. And Valley of the Dolls I love that you write about it in your book. I often, please correct me. People often call it sort of a it’s so bad, it’s good type of movie. I don’t want to label it just that way. But why did that end up in your book? I’m sure. Think about which movies do I write about? Which ones do I not write about? As I admit

Achim Nowak  07:59

in the book, yeah, I have a sub genre of American movie that I call in initial cap, truly bad movies. Yes, and Valley of the Dolls is my very favorite truly bad movie in Los Angeles and vicinity, where I grew up in the 1960s on one of the local TV stations, there was a daily television broadcast of movies called the million dollar movie, in which they showed the same movie every day at three o’clock in the afternoon for a week. And because of the million dollar movie, I can pretty much recite the entire screenplay of Valerie. This is also a true calamity, Jane starring Doris Day. There are a couple of other movies. And my brother Lloyd, whom I to whom I give do props in the book, will attest that we, between the two of us, we can do Valley of the Dolls and have and I think now, in 2020 retrospect, Valley of the Dolls was my personal introduction to the concept of capital C camp, because it is a truly bad movie. It was the first example that I knew of of a movie they were apparently really trying to make a good movie. Apparently everything that could go wrong went wrong. And anybody who knows the movie will attest you end up with a great big movie that’s funny when it didn’t want to be funny. The reason why that movie is so important to me is because we watched it five times, my brother and I every day for a week after school, you know, while doing our homework. So we literally know that movie, like the 23rd song. So that’s really what makes that movie important for me, is just it’s almost ridiculous familiarity, and it’s utter and complete badness from start to everything from, you know, Susan Hayward’s lips thinking badly. To Patty Duke, lip syncing badly, all of the fashions and the hairdos and the terrible, terrible dialog I understand. Harlan Ellison was an original screenwriter on that who demanded to have his name taken off of the script because it was so bad. So, you know, as with so many other gay men of my generation there. There’s a special place in my heart for that movie. Sometimes, when I just need need a laugh, I’ll pop it into the media player,

Larry Duplechan  10:30

and as I’m listening to you, I get a sense of just how well you know this movie, which is very endearing, another movie that you write about and that has special meaning to me. You and I are roughly the same age. I grew up in Berlin, Germany, before I came to this country, and you mentioned cabaret, and I have my own relationship to cabaret, which I think is a spectacular movie. What about you? What is it about that movie where you go, this is one of the great ones. We could

Achim Nowak  11:05

literally do a show about why Cabaret is one of the greatest movies ever. As I say in the book, there’s no such thing as a perfect movie. Well, maybe cabaret, yeah, that’s how good I think it is. It’s said so often that it’s almost a cliche. Now that Cabaret is known as the musical for people who hate musicals, for those of us who love musicals, I think we love it all the more, because everything that people who don’t like about musicals is completely jettisoned in Cabaret. It’s also, in my opinion, the best work Liza Minnelli ever did, yeah, is a performance that never ages. And I’ve watched this movie a lot of times, and every time I watch the mine hair number, it’s almost as if I had never seen it before. I am astounded anew by not just the stack of wonderfulness that was Liza Minnelli at that point, but the song itself. And, of course, you know, fosse choreography, the camera work and the blah, blah, blah. But I tell this story in the book, and I’m going to tell that again a very good friend of ours who was Mexican born beautiful, bisexual man who has since left us because he was born and raised in Mexico. He wasn’t as familiar with American pop culture as certainly I am, and he knew Liza Minnelli only from the TV show of Arrested Development. He knew that there was such a thing as Eliza Manelli, but he didn’t understand why she was considered a diva and a gay icon. So my husband and I sat him down and showed him cabaret. And after the mine hair number, I paused, I turned to him, and he simply said, I get it now. So that’s cabaret. And on top of that, cabaret came out when I was 1415, at which point I knew for a fact that I was gay, though I had not acted on it again, as I mentioned in the book, when Michael York says the three words, so do I. It rocked my world, because this was a big and by that point, I think I’d at least read Mark Crowley’s, uh, play the boys in the band. But this was the first, I pretty sure it was my first full on, dude on dude. relationship, romantic relationship on the big screen. And this was the big screen. It was a huge Hollywood musical that won a plethora of Oscars in the same year that the Godfather came, when Sally Bowles, when he says, Oh, screwmaximilian. And she says, I do. And he says, so do I? Bam. World rocked. Mind blown for this 15 year old kid. So it’s important to me on that level as well, and envisioning

Larry Duplechan  14:01

Helmut green and Michael York coupled up is not a shabby thought, Is it? So, yeah, there was a fantasy. I’ve had a couple. My goodness, they were both just stunning. And it wasn’t until years later that I saw what I think was Michael York at his most delicious, which is in something for everyone. Let’s talk about the movie. Because I love, love, love, love, love, that movie. That was seven loves. That’s a lot of love.

Achim Nowak  14:33

You mentioned seeing a movie five times in a row. Value the dolls. This is the first time I went back the next day to see a movie because of Angela Lansbury, the German settings, and I thought her son, Anthony corlin, was just too yummy for words. But what talk about that movie? Because I love it. Many listeners may not know this movie. So what

Larry Duplechan  14:55

is it really? I can’t really speak to it that much because a May. Amazingly, I’ve only seen it one time. I saw something for everyone because of my age and how long I’ve been with my husband, time tends to smear. But I imagine this was sometime in the 80s at the Newark theater in Santa Monica, California, they had, I drive you not cabaret and something for everyone as a double bail, perfection, my goodness, if you couldn’t get a phone number at in that theater that night, hang it up. It was a gay, gay night. And that was the one time that I’ve seen something for everyone. And again, that’s some nice dude on dude snog near the end of that of that movie, and I think, as I’ve already said, that Michael York, it was the very peak of Michael York’s physical beauty. And just about every time they hit him with a close up, I would guess he was just so bloody and the only thing other than that kiss and how beautiful Michael York was, and how beautiful that boy was. Oy vey was this one Angela lensbury line that my husband and I quote to this day, which is poverty, poverty, poverty, whenever we’re doing something really extravagant, yeah, you know, spending money on something that we don’t usually spend money on. If we’re at a particularly fancy schmancy restaurant. You know, one of the other most will pick up a wine glass and just say, poverty, poverty, poverty. I appreciate you for remembering lines from movies and quoting them. So thank you for doing that. We’re going to move on to some other ones. But for anybody who’s never seen something, for everyone, it stars the glorious Angela Lansbury, directed by Harold prince, and just to connect it to cabaret, as you did, it’s another movie where Michael York sleeps around, right? He sleeps with everybody in the movie. He didn’t do that in Cabaret, but it has this bisexual flavor, which is the same flavor Exactly, exactly, right? You mentioned, and I’m glad you mentioned it, because people have different feelings about the boys in the band, but it’s a historic gay play. I love that they kept the whole play cast in the movie. What are your thoughts about? Well, the play or the movie, anything you want to talk about it, because we cannot talk Pride Month and not mention the boys in the band. You know, that’s another one where we could do a whole show, yes, so you know, how do I truncate this? Personally, it was the play. I stumbled upon a copy of the play in the public library in 1972 my sophomore year in high school, maybe the worst year of my life, in certain ways. It was my very first piece of gay art. It was my first piece of gay culture. And it was, it was a opened my eyes to the fact that there were other people like me that gay was something, that one was Yeah, and perhaps more importantly, that somewhere, maybe only in New York, who knew, but somewhere there were other people like me. And furthermore, even though these guys, as it turns out, were a full generation older than I, they quoted the same movies I quoted they, they talked about the same songs that I like. It was my introduction to gay culture. And so it’s difficult for me. I can’t be objective about the voice in the band, because it’s too personal for me. When people start to slag on it, which some people will, I tend to just walk away, because if you don’t get it, you don’t get it. But if you do, then you do to the guys who will claim, well, gay men aren’t like that anymore. I say bunk. Think over your circle of friends a little more carefully. We’re not that different. We’d like to think we are. And certain things are different. You know, certainly more people are out, and laws have changed, and now we can marry blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but if you’re telling me that every gay man loves himself unconditionally, all I can say is, no, I think that. And of course, like anything it’s had it, the play has and the movie have had their ups and downs in terms of popular affection. But I think it’s a good play, if not a great play. I think it’s a great play, but I will entertain arguments, you know, from people who think it’s not a great play. As I think I said in the book, if the only thing you can come up with is, why didn’t those guys just walk out of the party, my answer is, why didn’t Tom Sawyer paint the fence himself? That’s simply not the story that the writer decided to tell. So unless you yourself have written a modern classic, just shut the up. I love the movie, even though, as a writer well and as a huge fan of the play, I know every line of that play, so I know every cut i. I know every line they cut out to make the movie, but I think as as the movie version of a play goes, it’s a very good one. Thank have you. Should rest in peace. Mark Crowley, he insisted that they bring over the New York cast, hallelujah, because almost all of those guys died too young. I’m eternally grateful that their signature performances are on film, beautiful. So happy about that.

Achim Nowak  20:27

And as I’m listening you talk about it, I’m just reminded that we can have different stories about movies and reassess them over time, and we have different feelings about them. And I’m hearing you talking, which is great the way you organize your book, and you know you have all section on black history, Black History Month, when suddenly black stuff gets trotted out for the public, right where I want to start with that one. And you know that I have an African American partner, so this is part of the conversation we have all the time about the expectations his parents had around him, succeeding in life and being successful, and the importance of black culture. So I’m wondering in your home, how was blackness talked about? Were the expectations around it? Was that a part of the conversation or not? I’m just curious, we

Larry Duplechan  21:16

talked about blackness, but not in the way that people have to talk about blackness. Now there is, as I’m sure you know, something that black families have come to call the talk that you have with your black son. We didn’t get that talk. It was a different time. We actually were raised to believe that the police were in were our friends. My father taught us, and I’m almost going to quote verbatim here, you can be anything you want, you can do anything you want, you can achieve anything you want, but you’re going to have to work for it, and you’re going to have to work twice as hard as the white man next to you. And that was what my father taught us about being black in America, and as it turns out, I have three younger brothers. I’m the first of four men in our family, the only gay I am, probably arguably the least successful of us. I think my parents did a good job I do. There were books about black history in the house, but we weren’t preached at. But the books were there, and I was an avid read, as of course, I still am, and so the information, the history, the you know, the names, the dates, were there if you cared enough to pick a book for the rest of it. It was largely about getting through life as best you could my parents were from dire Louisiana, backwards, born in the Depression poverty, who, collectively, with their entire generation, really moved to California, Southern California, in the 50s, and took it from there. They were middle class aspirant, and then they became middle class, and then they became richer than middle class. So they were an example. They weren’t. They were better than a lecture, because we could look at them and say, Yeah, you can achieve. And we all have in each in our own ways. I and my three brothers have all my inner brother is an MD, so he’s kind of a shining light of the family. You know, I’m just a writer who cares about that. That was blackness in the duplexan house. Also, we’re Creole and Louisiana, Creoles have a strange and unusual relationship to blackness as an identity and certainly as an aspect of skin color. But explain what that means to you, no subset of American population is as color conscious as Louisiana Creoles. The lighter your skin, the more beautiful you are. That’s just a rule. But on the other hand, none of the people in my either side of my family who could have quote passed for white and if quote, ever tried, because they were black and they were they identified as black the fact they had light skin and green eyes and straight hair, not withstanding they were black, they were considered the prettiest blacks, of course, because they were light. So that’s what I meant by the complicated relationship of blackness to when you were Louisiana, Creole, even within my family, my immediate family, one of my brothers, is light skinned and Hazel eyed and is constantly mistaken for everything but black and as children, even as small children, it was understood that he was the best looking of us because he was light.

Achim Nowak  24:36

Was that implicit? Or was that explicitly stated? It

Larry Duplechan  24:41

was explicitly stated, not so much within the family, but in the black church, for instance, the old church ladies and the big cats would run right up to my brother and say, Oh, this is the pretty one.

Achim Nowak  24:53

Again. I want to attend the impossible and just pick one item from black history. And since we’ve been talking Music. Goals? Can we go from cabaret to Dream Girls and as a big black musical? What? And I got Well, I went on stage for the movies. But what do you what’s your take on Dream Girls?

Larry Duplechan  25:12

I love the dream girl. Love you did seven. Loves seven. Love the Dream Girls movie for many reasons. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a girl group fanatic. I love the girl groups. I know all the records. I know all the groups I can individually name. You know the members of most of the halfway big girl groups of 50s and 60s Dream Girls, the movie especially is so much an homage to the girl group genre, to the girl group ethos. Miss Ross can deny it until the day she croaks. It’s about the Supremes. And I love the Supremes. I pretty much lost interest in Miss Ross after she left. On top of which there’s Jennifer Hudson, yeah, who I think is one of the great talents of her generation. I think of her, I say often she’s like, she doesn’t realize it, but she’s like an honorary niece to me, because I fell in love with her when she was on American Idol and didn’t win. And then the two months before the Dream Girls movie was released, she was the name talent on a gay cruise that my husband and I were on, and I fell in love with her. I knew there because she was just so likable. She was, you know, aside from the fact that she was a huge, huge talent, I think I tell the story in the book that she would start a song, walk off the stage, walk up the stairs to the balcony where guys were losing their She would pose for selfies with the boys. Never stop singing. Walk back down the stairs, go back to the middle of the stage, finish the song, bam. She was amazed. I’ll never forget my best friend, Michael, who was also on this cruise, didn’t get out of his chair at the end of the show. He waited and watched the show again. That’s how amazing she was, and in its way. And I mean this as a compliment, it’s almost stormy weather for my generation because Beyonce and Anna can only rose and Danny Glover and Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, who was robbed. Oscar people robbed. It was one of those things where even once you get past the big names, it’s like, oh, isn’t that? Who’s that in that corner? It was, it’s like they called somebody got out the Rolodex and called every piece of black talent that’s right on both coasts. So it’s a little slice, because now it’s 17 years ago or something. So now a piece of black history itself. It is because it does capture that generation of black artists at the top of their game in their youth. I don’t think Beyonce has done, I don’t know if he’s done a movie of that caliber since, yeah, since we’re chatting in pride a month. And I love the fact that you give Pride Month. It’s due in your book. You feature a bunch of wonderful movies. And I want to talk about Blackbird in a moment as well. So know that we’re going to talk about Blackbird before, but before we get there, if there was somebody who’s listening to us and saying, I wonder if Larry had to pick just one movie, and he would say, this is the one I’d love for you to watch in Pride Month. And I know it’s an impossible question, but I’m asking it, which movie would you pick and why it’s actually not that tough. As soon as you ask the question the cellulite closet, because it said, Oh, it’s a now, 25 or something year old, years too late. But, I mean, somebody should do something like it for the last chunk of time, but for the first, you know, 100 years or so of movie history. It’s a primer. It’s right there you want to know. You want to know how, yeah, how queer people were treated in movies for that first 100 years. Bang. There it is. It turned me on to a lot of movies I didn’t know about before. It is, of course, based on my friend Vito Russo’s seminal work. Probably the most touching, most flattering thing anyone so far has written about my book was to compare it favorably to the cellular closet. I feel like I’m not an Oscar beautiful because Vito was my idol. Vito was my friend because of when they did the movie. They did speak to many people involved in the movie industry in its golden age shortly before they passed. So it’s important on that level as well. Yeah, so that’s why I would point them first. I appreciate that also your nod to people who are no longer here. Their reference. I appreciate one of the movies that you write about as well. Long time companion with a movie where I feel like I’ve personally lived every scene at a movie. Would you for folks who maybe haven’t seen it, and you know, it’s a different generation around HIV and AIDS. But if you would take us back to a long time companion, and why you chose to feature it in your book. Yeah? Okay, let’s see if we can do this without crying. As I say in the book, I don’t watch a lot people dying of AIDS movies, yeah, because I was there, I don’t need to watch Tom Hanks in makeup to make him look like he’s got lesions on his face, and I’m glad he won the Oscar, and I love me Tom Hanks, but I was there, so I don’t need to see every movie that comes out about the terrible time that decimated my generation. The one exception to that is long time companion, and I don’t exactly know why that is, but I watched that, if not, every June, most Junes, the performances are so good, the writing is so good, and the first time I watched it was in the theater with my husband and our then best friend who has since passed, who had lost his longtime companion to aids that year, there’s a very personal attachment, and as again, I think I did mention in the book, during the last scene, the everybody who you’ve lost of aid from AIDS comes rushing back and grabs you in a hug. Scene as I’m weeping like a little baby, I perform what I consider my personal All Saints Day. I recite the Names aloud by myself, but I speak the names of every friend I lost to AIDS because it’s it’s the only life they have now is in our memories, and I think it’s important that we hang on to it. It’s why I also name all of the actors who died of AIDS from the boys in the band movie, because attention must be paid. Yeah. Thank you for that. I want to talk about Blackbird, which is the movie edition of your second novel. I believe I just want to in this podcast. It’s my fourth season. I’ve interviewed a bunch of really famous people, but when I told my partner that I was talking to you, I’m going to get emotional now, because he said to me, please make sure Larry knows that book changed his life and the life of all of his black friends in New York. So talk about how that book became a movie with Monique Isaiah Washington. Isaiah Washington, I happen to have worked with for many years in New York, so I know him. How do you feel about the movie version of a novel that impacted so many people well? Before I get to the movie, I have to admit that I don’t really think of Blackbird as having influenced that many people’s lives, because the only indication that a writer has of that sort of thing is sales, and the book never moved many copies. So I thank you for quoting your partner, because it does give me some much needed context. The thought that some people’s lives were changed by that book is terribly important and very moving to me. And frankly, it I didn’t know in terms of the movie. And I can say this out loud because I said it to Patrick Ian Hulk, who made the movie. I think it’s a good little movie. I just don’t think it’s a good movie of my book.

Achim Nowak  33:41

Would you explain that distinction?

Larry Duplechan  33:43

I Well, to put it briefly, Patrick and Paul took my book about a gay kid, black kid coming of age in Southern California in the mid 1970s and turned it into a movie about a kid’s parents in 21st century Mississippi who have a gay kid the I think the fact that it’s Blackbird starring Monique gives you some idea of what went wrong, because it’s a movie about a kid. The names above the title are the kids, parents. And in the book, those parents, those characters are quite minor, interesting and so but once you have hired a pretty recent, then Academy Award winner, yeah, to be in your movie and CO produce it and accept some of her money, you give her something to do. And unfortunately, what they gave her to do was so terribly wrong the story and went to the extent that it was reviewed when reviewers had something negative to say about the movie. It was never something that was in my book. It was always something that was past. On for Monique and Isaiah Washington. But as I say, I like the movie. I’ve watched it many times. I watched it most Junes since it came out in 2014 because there are some good things about it, chiefly the two guys who played the boys, the little black boy and his love interest, whom I think are just wonderful. But Monique is just given a 90 minute mad scene. She’s an entirely different movie than everybody else, and it looks rather like a black Valley of the Dolls. It’s just off the rails. So fortunately, I never had opportunity to meet her, because there’s no telling what I’m well, let’s wrap up the movie, part of this conversation with a movie that I know you absolutely love, and if I just set it up with a cultural distinction, because I am German, I came to this country when I was 16. This is not a movie that anybody in Germany would watch in that childhood. I was, I think, 21 when I first saw it in a movie theater, and that’s the Wizard of Oz. You write glowingly about it and what it meant to you. Would you just talk a little bit about your relationship to the Wizard of Oz. My relationship to the Wizard of Oz, I think, is shared by most Americans of my generation, because in the mid 1950s it debuted on commercial television. I think CBS picked it up first, at a time when I think very few people had colored television. So kids grew up having no idea about the color in most of the movie. But you know, as I say, like most people of my generation, I grew up seeing it once a year. They for many years, they showed it around Christmas time. And of course, there’s a well before VHS or anything like that. So it’s not like you could just watch it anytime. It was an event. It was something you looked forward to, like a turkey, you know. So aside from the personal aspect of it, I decided that it was time someone said no, singing the rain is, in fact, not the greatest Hollywood musical. It’s the Wizard of Oz. And here’s why. And I’m not going to say here’s why, because entirely, because that’s the chapter of book. But just briefly, I think one of the reasons why people tend not to think about the Wizard of Oz in that way is because it is, in fact, so integrated. The songs are so much about the plot and the characters that people forget it’s a musical. It’s almost a planet unto itself. It’s the Wizard of Oz, and it is what it is, because when you compare it to something as and I like singing in the rain. I like it a lot. It’s one of my go to musicals. But really, there’s nothing terribly special about it, structurally, you know, it’s a musical comedy, and people are funny, and people sing songs, and people do big dance numbers, but I don’t think any part of it is as moving as Judy Garland crying next to a big crystal ball because she misses her auntie Anne. There’s nothing that compares to when Margaret Hamilton first appears on screen and she’s big and green and ugly and little kids Pete their PJs. There’s just no comparing them. But again, I think it is, in fact, so special. I can’t think of another movie quite like it, though, 20th Century Fox tried to do it with a bluebird. It’s so much a planet of its own that I just wanted to go no kids, it’s a musical, and it’s an integrated musical. Three years before Oklahoma, which most people think of as, oh look, they invented the integrated musical, and it introduced the greatest entertainer of her generation to the world, and she was a fully formed marvel at 17 years old, and it means that everybody for future generations to come will know what vaudeville was, because it had Burt lark and Jack Haley and Ray Bolger just recreating vaudeville all over the all over the screen. So I think it’s historically important on a number of different levels, on the subject of movies we could talk about all day. I just want to just end with a really personal question, because having read the book, what I discovered is, recently, you worked as a legal secretary for 40 years. That’s impressive, because people forget that actors have to make a living, and most actors writers. I mean, writers teach writers do other stuff. That’s what you did. Commonly known that you’ve also been with your now husband, but you’ve known each other for at least 37 years. That’s remarkable. 48 actually, 48 years. 48 years. Yes, we’ve been together 48 years. Thank

Achim Nowak  39:57

you for clarifying that you. Yeah, well, that’s a big bloody difference. It is, and I’m glad we clarified it. But a question to ask every guest I have, because it’s called the fourth act podcast, do you think about the future? Do you think about other stuff you want to do? Is that an irrelevant question? Having just retired from that professional career fairly recently. How do you think about what’s next? I

Larry Duplechan  40:23

retired from the secretarial business at the end of 2022 which is not terribly long ago, and on my retirement, to do list was to write a memoir of some sort, check also to get a master’s degree. So that’s the next big thing I can think of wanting to do, probably some to do with religion or comparative mythology, because that’s one of my big passions. Done a good deal of reading already. Why? Because it’s there. 67 my father lived to be 81 my mother is still alive at 88 so it’s possible I have time to do something. What I’m doing now is I’m singing a lot more. Singing is my first love. I have recently fallen into a situation that affords me the opportunity to do a lot more singing, solo and otherwise, and that’s really satisfying for me so, and I’m doing a lot more knitting, so that’s that’s fun, too. If anybody wants to see your knitting, follow Larry on Facebook, because the output is probably displayed there it is. In fact, yes, I want to thank you first of all for the conversation. I want to thank you for writing a glorious book called movies that may gay, but also all the other stuff you’ve written before. Then if people want to learn more about you or follow you, where would you like to direct them? Well, once you decide how to spell my name correctly, which is D, U, P, L, E, C, H, A, N, Larry Ducan, I’m on Facebook, I’m on Instagram, I’m on YouTube, and certainly I’m on Amazon. So search my name on any or all of those things. Just about every singing performance that I’ve done over the past year I’ve slapped onto YouTube. And all my books, even the ones that aren’t in print anymore, are very much gettable on Amazon, and I’m pretty open to people. If you want to contact me on Facebook and talk about stuff, I can do that.

Achim Nowak  42:31

Thank you, Larry and Happy Pride.

Larry Duplechan  42:34

Thank you, Happy Pride.

Achim Nowak  42:39

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of The my fourth act podcast. If you like what you have heard, please like us and leave a review on your preferred podcast platform. And if you would like to engage more deeply in fourth act conversations, check out the mastermind page at Achim it’s where fourth actors like you engage in riveting conversation with other fourth actors see you there and bye for now you.


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