DCS: david mixner

June is Pride Month.

David Mixner spent his entire life fighting for what was right.

In the 1960s, as a college student, he opposed the war in Vietnam. He organized a campus-wide protest against a speech delivered by General William Westmoreland.

He took his protest to the 1968 Democratic Convention where he was allegedly beaten by police outside the convention center. However, the following year, he was invited to join the Delegate Selection Committee, possibly with the help of his new friend Senator Ted Kennedy.

In 1978, David focused on defeating California’s notorious “Propostion 6,” which would ban homosexuals from becoming teachers. Through protests and demonstrations and the help of San Francisco City Councilman Harvey Milk, Proposition 6 was handily defeated by over a million votes.

David worked closely with Bill Clinton on his campaign for president, especially favoring the candidate’s position on gays in the military. But their friendship was strained after the newly-elected Clinton backpedaled on his promises and introduced the less-than-favorable “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. David and Clinton never spoke again.

In the 21st century, David turned to performance pieces, He wrote a politically-charged trilogy that was produced and performed in New York City. With positive reviews, the shows were often staged as a source for fundraising for LGBTQ causes.

David contracted long-term COVID and passed away in November 2024 at the age of 77.

 

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DCS: freddie mercury

June is Pride Month.

Freddie Mercury was a complicated person. His wild and flamboyant stage persona was a vast contrast to his quiet, reserved, almost shy, demeanor off-stage.

Raised in a strict Zoroastrianism family, he kept his homosexuality a secret from his parents, a decision that often troubled him. But young Freddie was somewhat of a child prodigy, mastering the piano at 7 years of age and displaying an impressive vocal range stemming from four extra incisors in his mouth.

Freddie’s collaboration with Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon is legendary and is undeniable in its significance and influence in the music world. However, a candid interview with Freddie revealed a surprising situation. When asked if he socialized with his bandmates, Freddie frowned and replied, “No. Not at all.” When pressed as to the reason, he smiled and elaborated: “We have different personalities and like different things. I like opera and the ballet. They just want to go to rock shows.”

Freddie Mercury died in November 1991 at the age of 45 — just one day after his public announcement that he had contracted AIDS.

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DCS: barbara gittings

June is Pride Month.

Barbara Gittings first heard the word “homosexual” when she was rejected for membership in the National Honor Society. She never considered her attraction to women unusual until a high school teacher informed her that, despite being an excellent student, her “homosexual inclinations” were grounds to keep her out of the National Honor Society.

Fed up and feeling distanced from the literature she found regarding homosexuality, Barbara founded the New York chapter of Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian civil and political activism group, in 1958. Under guidance and inspiration from the founders of the San Francisco chapter of the group, Barbara championed her cause and did her best to break homosexuality from its societal tags as “deviant” and “perverted.” She became the editor of “The Ladder,” the organization’s publication.

In 1963, she countered psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis and his beliefs that homosexuals are “psychopaths” and “sick.” She spoke against Dr. Ellis with support and inspiration from fellow activist  Frank Kameny. Throughout the 1960s, she organized and marched in protests in New York, Philadelphia and at The White House. In the 1970s, Barbara formed the American Library Association, an organization promoting homosexuality in a positive and supportive manner. She happily took on the American Psychiatrics Association and other groups who stood to oppress homosexuals. She fought and campaigned diligently for her entire life.

Barbara passed away in 2007 at the age of 74. She left a legacy of which she could be proud.

 

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DCS: arlene golonka

When she was a teenager, Arlene Golonka knew she wanted to be an actress. She appeared in small, summer stock productions in her native Chicago, before landing a role opposite Ben Gazzara in The Night Circus at a theatre in New Haven, Connecticut. After a successful run, the play headed to Broadway at the end of 1958… only to close after just seven performances. Still determined, Arlene went on to costar with Robert Morse and Jackie Gleason in 448 performances of Take Me Along. She followed that with a role in Neil Simon’s first Broadway production Come Blow Your Horn, which ran for 677 performances. Not one to rest, she landed a supporting role alongside Kirk Douglas in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1963.

Arlene was part of the ensemble cast of the popular comedy record You Don’t Have to Be Jewish. The recording — a compilation of comedy sketches — was a hit. When it came time to record a sequel, Arlene was not available to reprise her role. However, she recommended her roommate, an up-and-coming young actress named Valerie Harper.

Through the 60s, 70s and 80s, Arlene was an in-demand character actress, bringing her adorable, quirky personality to guest roles in sitcoms like That Girl, Get Smart, The Flying Nun and many others. While adept at comedy, Arlene was equally comfortable (and capable) at drama, showing her range in episodes of I Spy, Barnaby Jones and In The Heat of the Night. She played bakery worker “Millie,” a recurring character, in later episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. The part was expanded in Mayberry RFD, the Griffith Show‘s follow-up. In this series, she was paired up with star Ken Berry as his love interest… still behind the counter at the bakery.

Arlene appeared in over 30 theatrical films, including supporting roles with Henry Fonda, Clint Eastwood, Peter Falk, Natalie Wood, George Segal and Richard Pryor in his film debut.

With years of experience under her belt, Arlene began to teach acting in the 1980s and continued up until her death at age 85 in 2021.

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DCS: jeffrey hunter

king of kings

Hank McKinnies, Jr. began his acting career on radio and in local theater. His big break came when he was spotted by talent scouts and offered a contract with 20th Century Fox. Using the stage name “Jeffrey Hunter,” he was cast in a bit part in a 1950 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar with a young Charlton Heston as “Mark Antony.”

After a few more roles, Jeffrey was loaned out to Warner Brothers to make The Searchers with John Wayne. He played “Martin Pawley,” Wayne’s adopted nephew, a role originally intended for Fess Parker, until Disney Studios refused to loan Parker out. The Searchers is considered very influential and was named the greatest American western by the American Film Institute in 2008.

In 1961, Jeffrey starred as “Jesus Christ” in Nicholas Ray’s King of Kings. His performance received the full spectrum of review and reaction — from high praise to ridicule. Based on Jeffrey’s boyish good looks and piercing blue eyes, the film was nicknamed by critics “I Was A Teenage Jesus.” He bounced back with a heroic part in the all-star war epic The Longest Day.

The 60s brought Jeffrey to a starring role in a tongue-in-cheek Western series called Temple Houston, co-starring veteran character actor Jack Elam. The series never quite found its footing or its audience and, by the time it was cancelled, the joke circulated that its premise concerned a synagogue in Texas.

Jeffrey accepted the offer to shoot a pilot for a new science-fiction series called Star Trek. He would play a starship’s commanding officer Christopher Pike. After filming wrapped, he sent show creator Gene Roddenberry a letter asking for separation from the project, wanting to concentrate on his film career. Scenes from the pilot were used in the two-part “The Menagerie” episodes once Star Trek was picked up by the network.

Jeffrey sustained a serious concussion when an explosion on a movie set in Spain went wrong. He was in shock on the plane ride back to the United States and was unable to speak. After a thorough examination at a hospital, he was released. Months later, he suffered an intracranial hemorrhage while on a flight of stairs at his home in Van Nuys, California. He was found by his wife — unconscious with a fractured skull. He was taken for emergency brain surgery, but it was unsuccessful. Jeffrey passed away the next morning at the age of 42.

Actress Ruta Lee, a guest star on Temple Houston, once commented: “Jeffrey was one of the prettiest people that ever was put on the screen.”

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