Partner William Haines, buried together
601 Lorna Ln, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA
Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery, 1847 14th St, Santa Monica, CA 90404, Stati Uniti
Jimmie Shields (May 24, 1905 - March 5, 1974) was the longtime companion of William Haines, the first openly gay Hollywood star.
In 1926, on a trip to New York while on the cusp of his superstardom, Haines had a whirlwind fling with a 21-year-old former sailor names Jimmy Shields. When Haines returned to L.A., he brought Shields with him, and moved his new boyfriend into his house and got him work as an extra at MGM.
They were one of the few couples to make it into Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst’s inner circle, meriting invitations to San Simeon nearly weekly. And the local movie press knew, too, but nobody had any incentive to publish an exposé about it or anything.
In 1930, Billy had become part owner of an antiques shop on La Brea Avenue. By that point he had already turned his own home into a showroom for his exquisite taste, and his guests were always asking where they could buy things like the ones he had, so he gave them a place to do it.
He’d go into a starlet’s house and toss out the gaudy animal prints and gilded ornaments that she bought with her first flush of cash because she thought that was fancy, and replace everything with genuinely fancy stuff, high-quality, sophisticated simplicity, with elect pops of color or flashy accents. Hand-painted wallpaper became one of his signatures, as did low-to-the ground sitting rooms, outfitted with ottoman tables perfect for casual entertaining. Occasionally his antiques and art were borrowed for use in movies—paintings personally owned by William Haines lined the walls of Tara in Gone With the Wind. Above all else, Billy understood how people liked to live, and he was able to create spaces in which they could do it.
Billy and Jimmy enjoyed a high position in Hollywood for decades. Some members of the Hollywood community shunned them for living openly, but their true friends stayed loyal. They continued to attend parties at San Simeon, and at Joan Crawford’s house. And they stayed together until Billy’s death, in 1973. In fact, when his lover of nearly 50 years was gone, Jimmy Shields didn’t know what to do with himself. Joan Crawford tried to help, but it was no use. He soon killed himself on March 5, 1974. He left behind a note that said, “It’s no good without Billy.”
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