external image 1500563323._SX500_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgDays of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time
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Together from 1957 to 2007: 50 years.
Christian William Miller born William Henry Miller (August 7, 1921 - July 5, 1995)
Otis Munro Bigelow III (June 2, 1920 - October 6, 2007)
Thierry Mahe

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Christian William Miller (August 7, 1921 – July 5, 1995) was an American artist and model who contemporaries qualified as "one of the most beautiful men" in the gay social scene of New York City in the 1940s.<ref name="OAC">cite web|title=Miller (Christian William) Photographs and Papers|url=http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt9j49s426/|website=OAC - Online Archive of California|accessdate=30 July 2017</ref><ref name="Kaiser">cite book|last1=Kaiser|first1=Charles|title=The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America|date=2007|publisher=Grove Press|url=https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Gay_Metropolis.html?id=HO7IKU79zgAC|accessdate=30 July 2017</ref>

Early life and education

William Henry Miller (in 1951 legally changed to Christian William Miller) was born in South Orange, New Jersey, on August 7, 1921.<ref name="OAC" />

From 1938 to 1941 Miller attended the Franklin School of Professional Arts in New York City, obtaining an advertising design major.<ref name="OAC" /> After his military career Miller attended The New School for Social Research, from 1947 to 1949, in New York City. In 1949 he enrolled at Dartmouth College, taking up liberal art studies.<ref name="Dartmouth">cite web|title=[Dartmouth Alumni Magazine article] by William H. Miller Jr|url=http://brbl-dl.library.yale.edu/vufind/Record/3566026|website=Glenway Wescott papers|accessdate=30 July 2017</ref> Also in 1949, Miller was awarded a Fulbright scholarship; an American scholarship program of competitive, merit-based grants. The scholarship lasted till 1951.<ref name="OAC" />


From 1939 to 1941, while still a student at the School of Professional Arts, Miller worked as a designer for Datzenbach & Warren, Brunschwig & Fils, and the oldest luxury department store in the United States, Lord & Taylor.<ref name="OAC" /><ref name="MoMA">cite web|title=William H. Miller, Jr. Chair c. 1944|url=https://www.moma.org/collection/works/2880?locale=en|website=MoMA|accessdate=30 July 2017</ref> He designed fabrics, wallpaper, stage sets for summer theatres as well as freelance advertising and arranging window displays.<ref name="Dartmouth" />

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Miller enlisted in June 1942 in the United States Coast Guard and trained with the USS ''Berkshire County'' (LST-288). He was stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, serving until 1946.<ref name="Kaiser" /> While following the SKAT Insect Repellent project (a malaria control project) in 1942 in Perth, Western Australia, Miller was assigned to a research project with Richard Delano, a cousin of Franklin D. Roosevelt, promoted by the Air-Sea Agency, to design a pocket-sized balloon-like water desalination device to be used by Navy and Army fliers, named Sunstill.<ref name="OAC" /><ref name="MoMA" /> Franklin D. Roosevelt displayed a model of Sunstill on his desk and Winston Churchill had one with him in his briefcase. The first Model A was in production in the summer of 1943.<ref name="Dartmouth" />

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While enlisted, Miller worked in a plastic laboratory, where he developed several plastic products:<ref name="Dartmouth" />

All these objects were exhibited at MoMA from May 24 to October 22, 1944 for its 15th-anniversary show, "Art in Progress".<ref name="Dartmouth" />[2] The chair was again exhibited at the MoMa from May 6, 2009 to January 10, 2011, in the show "What Was Good Design? MoMA's Message 1944–56".<ref name="MoMA" />

Also a photographer, Miller documented his travels around the world and social life.<ref name="OAC" />

Gay social scene

Miller was a model, acquaintance and/or companion of many luminaries of the gay social scene of New York City in the 1940s: W. H. Auden, Paul Cadmus, Jean Cocteau, Noël Coward, George Cukor, Jean Genet, George Gallowhur, George Hoyningen-Huene, Christopher Isherwood, Alfred Kinsey (of whom he was a lover), Lincoln Kirstein, Dorothy Parker, Bernard Perlin ("Bill Miller was ga-ga-gorgeous"), George Platt Lynes (of whom he was a lover), Ralph Pomeroy ("Bill would go to a gallery and all the women and all the men would faint!"), W. Somerset Maugham, Jonathan Tichenor, Tom Tryon, Gore Vidal, Sam Wagstaff, Glenway Wescott and Monroe Wheeler (of whom he was a lover), Philip Wheelwright.<ref name="OAC" /><ref name="Kaiser" /><ref name="Leddick">cite book|last1=Leddick|first1=David|title=Intimate Companions: A Triography of George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, Lincoln Kirstein, and Their Circle|date=2015|publisher=Macmillan|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=8LCpCgAAQBAJ&pg=PT161|accessdate=30 July 2017</ref>[3]

At one time, Miller was in a relationship with Otis Bigelow. Before meeting Miller, Bigelow was in a relationship with a businessman, George Gallowhur, president of Skol Company; Bigelow left Gallowhur but he had to go back to college, at the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program at Hamilton: while Bigelow was there, Miller started a relationship with Gallowhur.<ref name="Kaiser" /> Miller's chair and Sunstill were manufactured by Gallowhur Chemical Corp.<ref name="Dartmouth" /><ref name="MoMA" />

A group of three portraits of Miller by George Platt Lynes made from 1942 to 1946 went on sale at Sotheby's in 1982.[4] In 1945 Miller and Platt Lynes, at the time lovers, went together to a masquerade ball hosted in Weston by Alice DeLamar; their costumes resemble the Commedia dell'Arte and Platt Lynes subsequently took a series of photographs of the two of them dressed in those costumes.<ref name="Leddick" />

In 1945 Paul Cadmus took a pencil and watercolor on grey paper of Miller, signed and inscribed "Bill Miller — Cadmus 1945," which in 1968 was in possession of Miller.[5]

At the end of the 1940s, Christian William Miller, together with Charles "Chuck" Howard (another model who would later become a fashion designer), participated in the "on the field" research of Alfred Kinsey. They went to Bloomington and performed together for Kinsey. Miller's purpose was to "achieve greater social tolerance of homosexuality" (Wilf). Later Miller had a brief relationship with Kinsey.<ref name="Leddick" />[6]

In 1952 Miller appeared in a photo shoot for ''Life''.<ref name="OAC" />

At a party hosted by John B. L. Goodwin in 1955, Bill Miller is listed by Christopher Isherwood among other guests, including Paul Cadmus, Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo.[7]

Personal life and death

With the savings from his military career, Bill Miller bought a house in Reading, Vermont, that he restored and redecorated. Later in life he owned a cottage at Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.<ref name="Dartmouth" /><ref name="OAC" />

Miller died on July 5, 1995.<ref name="OAC" />

thumb|Otis Bigelow

Otis Munro Bigelow III (June 2, 1920 - October 6, 2007) was a Broadway actor, playwright, and stage manager. He was one of the best-looking men in Manhattan in the 1940s, and one of the first partners of Christian William Miller.<ref name="Hamilton College">cite web|title=Hamilton College|url=http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/BIGELOW/2010-07/1278979163|accessdate=29 September 2017</ref>

Early life

Otis Munro Bigelow III was born on June 2, 1920 in Exeter, New Hampshire. He was the only child of Otis Munro Bigelow II (1881-1932), professor of Romance languages at Phillips Exeter Academy, and Ruth Lillian Spalding (1885-1937). His grandfather, Otis Munro Bigelow I (d. 1939) was the president of the Baldwinsville State Bank.<ref name="Hamilton College" />[8]

He attended Rumsey Hall School, in Washington, Connecticut, where he had his first sexual experiences with classmates.<ref name="Kaiser" /> In 1934 he transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy, where he was the lead actor in theatrical productions at the Old Farragut Playhouse, Rye Beach, New Hampshire.<ref name="Lebanon Daily News 1961" /> One newspaper said: "Otis Bigelow as "Corey Masters" did a very fine job and should be mentioned as one of the outstanding members of the cast."[9] After high school he lost his father and his uncle Robert W. Keyes of Utica, New York, who had married his aunt, Olivia Bigelow Keyes (1894-1982), became his guardian. He entered Hamilton College in 1939 joining the Naval Reserve Officer Training.<ref name="Kaiser" /> At Hamilton College, Bigelow had lead roles in the Charlatans productions and was managing editor of ''The Continental'' (a student-run magazine) and co-editor of ''Hamiltonews''. He was a member of the Publications Board and of Pi Delta Epsilon, a journalism fraternity. He was part of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. He sang in the College Choir and fenced for the Coach Glas. When he graduated in 1943, ''The Hamiltonian'' said that he was "the seniors' most diversified artist."<ref name="Hamilton College" />


At the beginning of his career, he acted and danced on Broadway. He later became a playwright and theatrical agent.<ref name="Hamilton College" />

In 1941 he was writing songs, like "Seems like yesterday".[10]

While he was at Hamilton College, Bigelow wrote a play that John C. Wilson optioned for Broadway and in 1942 he asked Bigelow to come back to Broadway and rewrite it.<ref name="Kaiser" />

He was a Reservist for the U.S. Navy and served during World War II as an officer aboard minesweepers in both the Atlantic and the Pacific. After two years of active duty he was released in 1945 as a lieutenant.<ref name="Hamilton College" />

He was in the cast of ''Red Letter'', a hit in London, made his debut on Broadway as the sailor in ''Dear Ruth''.<ref name="Hamilton College" /><ref name="Lebanon Daily News 1961" /> In 1945 he was in the cast of ''Fifty-fifty'' by Andrew Rosenthal at the Sayville Playhouse, Sayville, New York, starring Margaret Bannerman.[11]

In 1947 he made an audition at Warner Brothers in Hollywood, but was signed as screenwriter.<ref name="Hamilton College" />[12]<ref name="Lebanon Daily News 1961" /> He collaborated with Robert Richards for ''One Sunday Afternoon'' starring Dennis Morgan.[13]

In 1948 he went to Paris "to get my mind straightened after Hollywood", and took odd jobs in French movies, from acting to translating and devising English subtitles.<ref name="Hamilton College" /> He appeared in films with Danielle Darrieux, Jean Pierre Aumont and Gene Kelly.<ref name="Lebanon Daily News 1961" /> In 1949 he was in the cast of ''Peg O' My Heart'', starring Academy Award winner Peggy Ann Garner with the Chevy Chase Summer Theater in Wheeling, Illinois; a newspaper said: "The talented resident company, Paula Laurence, Martin Kingsley, Will Kuluva and Otis Bigelow, again will be turning in the excellent performances that marked last week's comedy starrting Buster Keaton."[14]

Back to New York City, he concentrated on writing, but was not able to support himself.<ref name="Hamilton College" /> ''To Dorothy, a Son'', by Roger MacDougal in collaboration with Bigelow, was a success for more than one year in London, directed by Herman Shumlin and was brought over to Broadway in 1952. Starring was Ronald Howard, the son of Leslie Howard.[15]

Bigelow took ballet lessons and became a dancer in for ''The King and I'' on Broadway for three years;<ref name="Lebanon Daily News 1961" /> he was the Siamese slave and remained with the production for two years.<ref name="Hamilton College" />

In 1953 he joined the dance group Musical Americana, made of 20 men and women, and went on a tour which covered 33 states and 25,000 miles in four months.[16][17]<ref name="Lebanon Daily News 1961" /> He then spent a summer with the José Limón Company. In 1955 he then joined the cast of ''The Teahouse of the August Moon'', produced by Maurice Evans (he was the young Okinawa suitor of the geisha girl)[18] and in 1957 of ''Auntie Mame'', starring Connie Bennett (he was the school teacher).<ref name="Hamilton College" /><ref name="Pasadena Independent 1957" /><ref name="Lebanon Daily News 1961" />[19]

In 1957 he played the role of a Set Designer in the movie ''Designing Woman'' by Vincente Minnelli with Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall.[20]

thumb|Otis Bigelow and Kay Coulter in the Drunkard

In the late 1950s he was resident company lead for the Cherry County Playhouse in Traverse City, Michigan:

thumb|left|Mason Wright, Otis Bigelow, David C. Jones, in 1959, part of the cast of "Yes Man"

thumb|Otis Bigelow in 1961

In 1960 he appeared in the San Juan Drama Festival, in Puerto Rico.<ref name="Lebanon Daily News 1961" /> In June 1961 he had the lead role in ''Marriage-Go-Round'' with the Gretna Playhouse, in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.<ref name="Lebanon Daily News 1961">cite journal|title=Has Role of Husband in "Marriage-Go-Round" - 06 Jun 1961, Tue • Page 21|journal=Lebanon Daily News|date=1961|page=21|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14074072/lebanon_daily_news/|accessdate=29 September 2017</ref> He was then Hogan in ''Under The Yum Yum Tree''.[33] Later in the month, he was in the cast of ''Make a Million'';[34] a newspaper said: "He moves like a dancer with purpose and grace does Otis Bigelow who has leading roles at the Gretna Play."[35] And in July 1961 he was in the cast of ''Plain Betsy''.[36] In late 1961 he was in a Broadway production, ''A Cook for Mr. General''.[37] In June 1962 he was back with the Gretna Play for ''Everybody Loves Opal'' starring Kay MacDonald,[38] and the week after he was in the cast of "Write Me a Murder", starring Leonard Frey and Joseph Masiell.[39] In 1965 he was in the cast of ''Never Too Late'' with Maureen O'Sullivan and Arthur Godfrey, produced on Broadway and then Palm Beach, Florida.[40]

Later in life he moved to stage management for off-Broadway and summer tour productions. He worked for Mart Crowley's ''The Boys in the Band'' (1968) and for the Williamstown Theatre Festival and the Bucks County Playhouse.<ref name="Hamilton College" /> He was also a professor at Dartmouth College.<ref name="Bennington Banner 1968" />

He retired in 1984.<ref name="Hamilton College" />

Written plays

Personal life

While acting in a summer production in Rye Beach, New Hampshire, Bigelow met Gordon Merrick. They shared an apartment in New York, on East 54th Street, and Richard Barr joined them. When Merrick wrote his gay romance ''The Lord Won't Mind'', he modeled one of the characters after Bigelow.<ref name="Kaiser" />

In New York City in the 1940s, Bigelow became a prominent figure in the gay society. He was interviewed by Alfred Kinsey for his research on Sexual Behavior.<ref name="Hamilton College" /> He was in a relationship with millionaire George Gallowhur, but he left Gallowhur when he fell in love with Bill Miller.<ref name="Kaiser">cite book|last1=Kaiser|first1=Charles|title=The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America|date=2007|publisher=Grove Press|url=https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Gay_Metropolis.html?id=HO7IKU79zgAC|accessdate=30 July 2017</ref>

He was friends with Maury Paul, the original Cholly Knickerbocker who wrote a society columnist for Hearst.<ref name="Kaiser" />

After retirement Bigelow resided in New York City with his long-term partner of more than 50 years, Thierry Mahe. He had a summer house on Fire Island, New York, and traveled often to France. He collected Art Nouveau glass and fin-de-sicle posters.<ref name="Hamilton College" />

He died on October 6, 2007 in New York City.<ref name="Hamilton College" />



Authority control

Category/1920 births
Category/2007 deaths
Category/Gay men


  1. ^ cite book|last1=Luce|first1=Henry Robinson|title=Time, Volume 43|date=1944|publisher=Time Incorporated|page=45|url=https://books.google.com/books?id=zdcLAQAAIAAJ|accessdate=31 July 2017
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  15. ^ cite journal|title=Up and Down Broadway - 11 Feb 1952, Mon • Page 4|journal=The Terre Haute Tribune|date=1952|page=4|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14073250/the_terre_haute_tribune/|accessdate=29 September 2017
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  21. ^ cite journal|title=Playhouse Opens 1959 Season Tuesday with "The Drunkard" - 29 Jun 1959, Mon • Page 1|journal=Traverse City Record-Eagle|date=1959|page=1|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14072907/traverse_city_recordeagle/|accessdate=29 September 2017
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  24. ^ cite journal|title=As Usual, Zaza Wows 'Em at the Playhouse - 22 Jul 1959, Wed • Page 10|journal=Traverse City Record-Eagle|date=1959|page=10|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14073116/traverse_city_recordeagle/|accessdate=29 September 2017
  25. ^ cite journal|title=New Play Scores at Hill in Premiere - 05 Aug 1959, Wed • Page 11|journal=Traverse City Record-Eagle|date=1959|page=11|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14072858/traverse_city_recordeagle/|accessdate=29 September 2017
  26. ^ cite journal|title=Gene Raymond Scores Hit in Comedy at Playhouse - 12 Aug 1959, Wed • Page 15|journal=Traverse City Record-Eagle|date=1959|page=15|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14074661/traverse_city_recordeagle/|accessdate=29 September 2017
  27. ^ cite journal|title=ZaSu Pitts Delightful in Hinsdale - 29 Jun 1960, Wed • Page 30|journal=Chicago Tribune|date=1960|page=30|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14073516/chicago_tribune/|accessdate=29 September 2017
  28. ^ cite journal|title=Charlie Ruggles Wows 'Em at Playhouse - 03 Aug 1960, Wed • Page 15|journal=Traverse City Record-Eagle|date=1960|page=15|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14073028/traverse_city_recordeagle/|accessdate=29 September 2017
  29. ^ cite journal|title=Gardiner Pace Excellent Cast in Coward Comedy - 10 Aug 1960, Wed • Page 11|journal=Traverse City Record-Eagle|date=1960|page=11|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14073144/traverse_city_recordeagle/|accessdate=29 September 2017
  30. ^ cite journal|title=LaRosa Shines in Slam-Bang Comedy - 17 Aug 1960, Wed • Page 13|journal=Traverse City Record-Eagle|date=1960|page=13|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14072879/traverse_city_recordeagle/|accessdate=29 September 2017
  31. ^ cite journal|title="Ballots Up" Premiere Rated a Success - 24 Aug 1960, Wed • Page 8|journal=Traverse City Record-Eagle|date=1960|page=8|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14073075/traverse_city_recordeagle/|accessdate=29 September 2017
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  33. ^ cite journal|title="Yum Yum Tree" Opens At Gretna Playhouse - 23 Jun 1961, Fri • Page 19|journal=Lebanon Daily News|date=1961|page=19|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14078600/lebanon_daily_news/|accessdate=29 September 2017
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  40. ^ cite journal|title=Arthur Godfrey, Miss O'Sullivan To Star Here - 14 Feb 1965, Sun • Page 73|journal=The Palm Beach Post|date=1965|page=73|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14073449/the_palm_beach_post/|accessdate=29 September 2017
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  49. ^ cite journal|title="Peacock Season" Opens Guild's - 26 Sep 1974, Thu • Page 73|journal=St. Louis Post-Dispatch|date=1974|page=73|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14074597/st_louis_postdispatch/|accessdate=29 September 2017
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  51. ^ cite journal|title=Neillsville School Plans Class Play - 04 Dec 1975, Thu • Page 17|journal=Marshfield News-Herald|date=1975|page=17|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14075587/marshfield_newsherald/|accessdate=29 September 2017
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  54. ^ cite journal|title="Peacock Season" at Columbus - 16 Jan 1983, Sun • Page 60|journal=Lincoln Journal Star|date=1983|page=60|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14077642/lincoln_journal_star/|accessdate=29 September 2017
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  57. ^ cite journal|title=Whimsical Bit Is Amusing - 17 Nov 1964, Tue • Main Edition • Page 24|journal=The Central New Jersey Home News|date=1964|page=24|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14074272/the_central_new_jersey_home_news/|accessdate=29 September 2017
  58. ^ cite journal|title=Romance, Magic, Superstition Enliven "Giant's Dance" Drama - 05 Dec 1967, Tue • Page 3|journal=Idaho State Journal|date=1967|page=3|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14074015/idaho_state_journal/|accessdate=29 September 2017
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  63. ^ cite journal|title=IceHouse Play Slated - 28 Dec 1972, Thu • Other Editions • Page 9|journal=The Orlando Sentinel|date=1972|page=9|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14074790/the_orlando_sentinel/|accessdate=29 September 2017
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  68. ^ cite journal|title="Giants' Dance" Opens Circle Theater Season - 22 Sep 1974, Sun • Page 108|journal=The Tennessean|date=1974|page=108|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14078331/the_tennessean/|accessdate=29 September 2017
  69. ^ cite journal|title=Playhouse plans play "Mary, Mary" - 28 Sep 1977, Wed • Page 27|journal=The Columbus Telegram|date=1977|page=27|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14076110/the_columbus_telegram/|accessdate=29 September 2017
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  79. ^ cite journal|title=Happy Endings - 20 May 1973, Sun • Page 297|journal=The Los Angeles Times|date=1973|page=297|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14076404/the_los_angeles_times/|accessdate=29 September 2017
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  82. ^ cite journal|title=Casting dates set for CTG Halloween play - 22 Jul 1997, Tue • Page 6|journal=The Signal|date=1997|page=6|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14074435/the_signal/|accessdate=29 September 2017
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  84. ^ cite journal|title=Theater to present staged readings - 05 Jul 1978, Wed • Page 33|journal=Poughkeepsie Journal|date=1978|page=33|url=https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14075429/poughkeepsie_journal/|accessdate=29 September 2017

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