Much like his 60s contemporary Paul Lynde, Alan Sues was somewhat of an anomaly. His sexuality was prevalent in his style, actions and sense of humor, but — because of the times — it was unspoken.
After his discharge from service at the end of World War II, Alan used his GI Bill benefits to pay for acting lessons at the influential Pasadena Playhouse. He made his Broadway debut in 1953 in Tea & Sympathy — the same year he married singer/dancer Phyllis Gehrig. The pair began a vaudeville-style act that they performed first in Manhattan then on a tour of North America. They divorced in 1958.
Alan worked as a stand-up comic, bringing his manic style to many New York clubs. He also landed small roles in some films, as well as a rare, non-comedic part in a particularly dark episode of Twilight Zone. Alan shined as an original cast member on the hip comedy review Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Here, Alan honed the character for which he is best remembered —the ambiguously effeminate fellow appearing in traditionally “macho” roles, like cowboys and sportscasters. Alan put his “wink-wink” spin on these characters to the delight of audiences. He even added a drag version of fellow cast member JoAnne Worley to his repertoire after Worley left the show. He also made frequent appearances on TV game shows based on his popularity.
Alan kept his sexuality an “open secret,” much the same way as Paul Lynde did. It was sort of a “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell.” situation, years before the concept was well known.
In 2008, fifty years after their divorce, Alan was interviewed by his ex-wife for her website. He commented on comedy, his career and all things show business.
Frail and in failing health, Alan passed away in 2011 at the age of 85.