Pat Bond (February 27, 1925 – December 24, 1990) was an American actress who starred on stage and on television, as well as in motion pictures. She was openly lesbian and in many cases she was the first gay woman people saw on stage. Her career spanned some forty years.
Born Patricia Childers, she spent her childhood in Chicago. She and her family moved to Davenport, Iowa when she was a teenager. While there she attended a Roman Catholic women's college. She later equated this experience to "a finishing school where they finished me". She joined the Women's Army Corps in 1945. Having accepted her homosexuality by this point, she was interested in meeting other lesbians. She acted as a nurse for soldiers returning from the South Pacific and also served in occupied Japan.
In 1947, in Tokyo, 500 women were dishonorably discharged from the army on the charge of homosexuality. During this period, many lesbians testified against each other in trial but Bond married a gay GI soldier to avoid prosecution. Her marriage to Paul Bond in San Francisco afforded Bond an honorable discharge from the army on July 3, 1947. She later said she regretted leaving her lover in the Corps, but did so to protect her. Bond knew that if she stayed, her lover would be more likely to be testified against.
Following her discharge from the army, Pat moved to San Francisco and became involved in the gay culture there. She earned a BA and MA in Theater from San Francisco State College. She also began acting on stage and performed in many plays, but did not become nationally known until footage from an interview with her appeared in a landmark documentary about gay people, titled Word Is Out (1978). Her performance in this film, in which she spoke comically and nostalgically about her experiences in the Army, stole the show, and launched her career as an actress and storyteller. By the late 1970s/80s, she was performing four one woman shows in theaters around the country.
Gerty Gerty Gerty Stein Is Back Back Back, co-written by TV producer Clifford Jarrett (1943-2005) was her most popular performance. She played the legendary Gertrude Stein and recounted humorous stories of Gertrude's life in Paris with her companion, Alice B. Toklas. The show was a huge success and was televised repeatedly on PBS stations across the country. Her other well known stage shows were Conversations With Pat Bond, centering mainly on reminiscences of her youth, Murder in the WAC, focusing on the Army's lesbian purge in the late forties, and Lorena Hickock and Eleanor Roosevelt: A Love Story.
Pat's career continued to flourish throughout the 1980s. Her one-woman shows were often sold out events and she became famous for her incredible comic timing. Film roles in Anti-Clock and the film version of the novel The House of God garnered her several good reviews, increasing her visibility and popularity even further. She was on the board of directors of Theater Rhinoceros in San Francisco and directed a number of plays there. She made a guest appearance on the sitcom Designing Women, playing one of Julia Sugarbaker's favorite school teachers who comes for a visit, and quickly wears out her welcome.
In 1990, Pat was honored by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in recognition of her army tenure at the end of World War II. She died of emphysema on Christmas Eve, 1990, in Marin County, California, aged 65. Her personal papers and photo albums were donated to the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society. In 1992, The Pat Bond Memorial Old Dyke Award was founded in her honor. The award goes to recognize Bay Area lesbians over 60 who have made outstanding contributions to the world.
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