Friday, October 29, 2021

Tom Tryon of THE OTHER

 I remember hearing folks say "Have you read The Other?" It was a best-selling eerie novel adapted into a popular eerie 1970s film from 20th Century Fox. In the late 1960s, a film and TV actor decided to move on from Hollywood. Big, brawny and handsome Tom Tryon had worked a lot in the 1950s and 60s. On TV, he was a lead actor in Disney features. He's really cool in the 1958 sci-fi thriller, I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE. He had significant roles in a few quality films. Tryon co-starred in the World War II dramas, THE LONGEST DAY and IN HARM'S WAY, two 1960s films that both starred John Wayne and Henry Fonda. Tryon did some fine work opposite veteran Hollywood stars. He had the looks and he had the talent. And he had a secret. He was gay.


Tom Tryon landed the lead role of the ambitious priest in an epic 1963 drama from director Otto Preminger. The film is THE CARDINAL. The action goes from 1917 to the brink of World War II. Even though I was way too young to grasp some of the more adult elements of the story, Mom and Dad urged me to watch it with them when it got to TV. I understood why. We were a Black Catholic family. I had years of parochial school education with other Black Catholic kids as friends and classmates. I was an altar boy for Black Catholic priests in church. Ossie Davis had a supporting role in THE CARDINAL as a Black priest who's a friend to Tryon's character. That was representation. It was rare then -- and even now -- to see Black Catholics represented in a movie or TV show.


Usually cast in dramas, Tryon might have had a big break with Marilyn Monroe. She had started shooting a remake of the 1940 screwball comedy, MY FAVORITE WIFE. The original starred Cary Grant, Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott. A father of two has just married to a sophisticated, self-absorbed woman. His first wife was shipwrecked on a tropical island for seven years and declared legally dead. But she's not. She was rescued and returns home. She's jealous of the new wife and sabotages their wedding night plans. The first wife and her husband are still in love with each other. He gets jealous when it's discovered that his not-late wife was not alone on that tropical island. There was a handsome, muscular man who kept her company. He too was rescued and all this craziness has to be sorted out in court. Cary Grant played the husband. Randolph Scott played the island hunk.


 Monroe looked gorgeous and in great form when production began on Fox's SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE with George Cukor in the director's chair.

Dean Martin was cast as the husband and Cyd Charisse played the new wife that the first wife schemes to push out of the picture.


Tom Tryon had been cast in the Randolph Scott role as the macho island hunk.


 
Unfortunately, SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE was a troubled 1962 shoot. 


Monroe was fired and, soon after, died. The production was scrapped and repackaged later. It was repackaged, recast and reshot as 1963's MOVE OVER, DARLING with Doris Day and James Garner.

 So, at the end of the 1960s, Tom Tryon left movies, turned to writing, came out of the closet and became a best-selling author. He wrote THE OTHER and he wrote the screenplay for THE OTHER. To see a theatrical trailer for the 1972 film, click on this link:

https://youtu.be/mGEG92502Yo.

His novel HARVEST HOME was adapted into a truly creepy and darkly erotic miniseries that provided Bette Davis with one of her best made-for-TV roles. The NBC adaptation was called THE DARK SECRET OF HARVEST HOME (1978). A story from a collection of stories written by Tryon became the 1978 Hollywood-on-Hollywood mystery film, FEDORA, directed by Billy Wilder and starring William Holden.

Tryon passed away in 1991. Because October is LGBTQ History Month, I just wanted to give you some history on an actor who reinvented himself as a writer, came out and had the biggest successes of his career when he could be his authentic self. 

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