Why are critics giving Victoria Wilson a pass for degaying A Life of Barbara Stanwyck [Kindle]? Is it because she's an editor at Knopf? Or is it because they know diehard fans don't like their icons outed? At 1,044 pages this volume covers only half of the closeted actress's life and apparently avoids her orientation altogether. The very, very exhaustive index lacks entries for sexuality, homosexuality, lesbian, gay, or rumors, and the NYT critic hurries past the colossal implications in noting, "Ms. Wilson does not explore issues of personal sexuality. What she does tackle is the outrageous ways in which sexual stereotypes were marketed to pitch movies."
In a long interview, Lara Fowler asked if Stanwyck's second marriage to Robert Taylor was to cover up their mutual homosexualities and Wilson only denies Taylor's queerness... with the "proof" of Harry Hay's word. [As Mattachine founder and fiery Communist, Hay possibly was not welcome in all Hollywood circles. Stanwyck was an ice-cold conservative.] Wilson said, with appalling nerve if the NYT is accurate that her book avoids personal sexuality,:
"I had one ambition for my biography of Barbara Stanwyck, and that was to write a book that reflected the truth about my subject and her world, regardless of what it was. I have written quite detailed portraits of Stanwyck’s two marriages; the first to Frank Fay; the second to Robert Taylor. Each marriage was complex and came about because of complex reasons – and stayed in tact because of equally complicated reasons; neither marriage came about because of homosexuality. I asked many people who would have a somewhat informed inkling about Robert Taylor’s sexuality, people who knew him at the time, or would have heard about the (then, of necessity) underground truth of his sexuality and nowhere did I come across any hint of his being gay, including interviewing Harry Hay, founder in 1950 of the Mattachine Society. If anyone would have known, or heard about the truth of Taylor’s sexuality over the years, it would have been Harry Hay. . ."
For a more honest look, get William Mann's Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969 or Boze Hadleigh's Hollywood Lesbians.