Partner Parker Tyler

Queer Places:
471 W Ferry St, Buffalo, NY 14213
Columbia University (Ivy League), 116th St and Broadway, New York, NY 10027
15 Charles St, New York, NY 10014

Charles Thayer Boultenhouse (December 23, 1925 - January 6, 1996) was an actor and director, known for Dionysus (1963), Handwritten (1959) and Henry James: Memories of Old New York (1959). Boultenhouse lived with poet and film critic Parker Tyler from 1945 until Tyler's death in 1974.

Charles Boultenhouse met Parker Tyler in 1945 when Boultenhouse moved to New York in order to attend Columbia University. Boultenhouse had, only a year earlier, read Tyler's The Hollywood Hallucinationand had been deeply impressed by Tyler's creative and intelligent analysis of commercial film. Soon after their meeting the two men became lovers; they lived together for almost thirty years, until Tyler's death in 1974. Before the 1940s Tyler had been best known as a poet and co-author, with Charles Henri Ford, of The Young and The Evil. Beginning with The Hollywood Hallucination, published in 1944, he came to be regarded as a pioneer in the new field of film criticism. Besides writing on commercial film, Tyler wrote several articles and books on the underground cinema emerging in the United States during the 1940s and `50s. Under the influence of Tyler and the experimental filmmakers with whom the couple were friends, Boultenhouse, who was an aspiring poet, began making films. His explorations in a genre he called “poetic cinema” enjoyed some success and critical acclaim within the small but lively world of experimental film in New York. In the 1950s and 1960s the couple thrived: Tyler was an esteemed cultural critic and champion of the avant garde, and Boultenhouse a promising filmmaker. Their apartment on Charles Street regularly bustled with social and artistic activity. Besides their accomplishments in cinema, both men worked in and wrote about other arts: Tyler continued to write poetry, art criticism, and biography, and Boultenhouse published several poems, translations, and film and dance reviews. Their group of friends and colleagues included Stan Brakhage, Maya Deren, Willard Maas, Marie Menken, Lloyd Williams, Jonas Mekas, Amos Vogel, P. Adams Sitney, and Gregory Markopoulos from the world of experimental film; and poets, artists, and composers such as Marius Bewley, Lucia Dlugoszewski, Charles Henri Ford, Philip Lamantia, Leslie Powell, Ned Rorem, Donald Sutherland, Allen Tanner, and Pavel Tchelitchew.

Charles Thayer Boultenhouse was born in Boston Massachusetts in 1926. In 1944 Boultenhouse graduated from high school in Buffalo and moved to New York with the intention of attending Columbia University. Boultenhouse was introduced to the coeditors of View, Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler, when he went to visit an old friend from Buffalo, John Bernard Myers, who was managing editor at the magazine. Shortly thereafter Tyler and Boultenhouse began a relationship that lasted until Tyler's death almost thirty years later.

In 1949 John Bernard Myers and Tibor de Nagy organized a production company specialied in puppet shows. The first production they launched was a Pueblo Indian fairy tale inspired by Max Ernst's enchanting collection of Kachina dolls. Their collaborators were Bernard Pfriem, who designed the production; the playwright Randolph Carter, who wrote much of the dialogue; Charles Boultenhouse, who wrote three lyrics; and Ned Rorem, who set the lyrics to music for voice and tympani. The hour-long play was entitled Fire Boy.

Charles Boultenhouse became interested in making films, through his relationship with Tyler and his friendship with the two experimental filmmakers Willard Maas and Marie Menken. The first film Boultenhouse made, Henry James' Memories of Old New York (1959), was based on James's autobiographical memoir “A Small Boy and Others.” Later the same year Boultenhouse completed Handwritten, a film of his own hand as he wrote Mallarme's A Throw of the Dicein the shape of a hand. In 1963 Boultenhouse wrote, produced, and directed Dionysius, which he described as a “free treatment of Euripides' The Bacchae.” It starred the dancers Louis Falco, Anna Duncan, and Nicolas Magallanes as Dionysius, Agave, and Pentheus respectively, and the experimental filmmakers Charles Levine, Willard Maas, Gregory Markopoulos, Marie Menken, Lloyd Williams and William Wood as the Chorus of Cameras. The film's score was by Teiji Ito. Besides making films, Boultenhouse published some poetry, translations, and film and dance criticism. For some time during the 1960s he wrote the regular Film Chronicle for Kulchur. Boultenhouse supported himself by working at Brentanos; from 1953-1981 he held several positions—manager, buyer, Director of Operations—at the 5th Avenue store. After Tyler's death in 1974, Boultenhouse became depressed and began to drink excessively. The drinking lead to a series of medical problems. By the early 1980s, his emotional and physical health began to improve. While he did not produce any new films, he regained some of his interests in his artistic pursuits: he got back in touch with his old friends in the film world, spoke at some film festivals showing his work, wrote several introductions for reprints of Tyler's books, and began to work on a biography of Tyler. This last project remained unfinished.

He died in 1996 in New York City, New York.

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