NILS ASTHER (b: 1897) was a Swedish actor who died on this date. Asther was active in Hollywood from 1926 to the mid-1950s. He known for his beautiful face and was often called "the male Garbo".


Between 1916 and 1963 he appeared in over 70 feature films, 16 of which were produced in the silent era. He didn't seek publicity, choosing instead to be alone. He is mainly remembered today for two silent films he made with his fellow Swede, Greta Garbo, and the pre-code interracial love affair in The Bitter Tea of General Yen.


Asther was a Gay man in a time when it was a stigma to be Gay. He grew up in a deeply religious Lutheran home, believing homosexuality was a sin and society viewed homosexuality as a disease. In Sweden it was called "unnatural fornication." While sexual relations between adults of the same sex were legalized in 1944, the medical classification of homosexuality as a form of mental disorder continued until 1979.


The theatrical community and the film industry in the 1920s accepted Gay actors with little reservation, always provided they remained discreet about their sexual orientation and there was no public suggestion of impropriety. Asther was closeted. He proposed marriage to  Greta Garbo to hide the true nature of his (not to mention her) sexual preferences. Asther and Garbo had known each other in Sweden, and finding themselves relatively new to a foreign land they spent a great deal of time together. They often visited a friend's ranch outside Hollywood where they could relax, ride horses, go climbing, or swim at Lake Arrowhead. "Sailor” was a favored term for Greta Garbo's male, Gay/bisexual friends. In 1929 during filming on location in Catalina filming The Single Standard with Nils Asther, she was overheard berating the actor for grabbing her so roughly. “I'm not one of your sailors,” she reminded him.


Rumors exist from the early 1930s that Nils had relationships with Swedish director Mauritz Stiller and Swedish writer Hjalmar Bergman and with other male colleagues. Nils mention some of this in his memoirs. He had a long term relationship with actor/stuntman and World War II navy soldier Ken DuMain. According to Ken DuMain, he met Asther on Hollywood Boulevard in the early 1940s and they enjoyed a long-term relationship.


In August 1930, Nils entered a lavender marriage, with one of his Topsy and Eva co-stars, Vivian Duncan. They had one child, Evelyn Asther Duncan, nicknamed in the media as "the international Baby" due to her Swedish father, American mother, and Bavarian birth. Their daughter's nationality was debated and Asther offered to apply for American citizenship if it would help the process of getting their daughter into America. Right from the start, Asther and Duncan's marriage proved stormy and became fodder for the tabloids. They divorced in 1932.


Asther died in hospital in Sweden.

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RICHARD HOWARD, American poet, born; A distinguished American poet, literary critic, essayist, teacher and translator, Howard was born in Cleveland, Ohio and is a graduate of Columbia University where he studied under Mark Van Doren, and where he now teaches. He lives in New York City and was a companion of novelist, SANFORD FRIEDMAN.


After reading French letters at the Sorbonne in 1952-53, Howard had a brief, early career as a lexicographer, but soon turned his attention to poetry and poetic criticism. He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his 1969 collection Untitled Subjects, which took for its subject dramatic imagined letters and monologues of 19th century historical figures.


He was awarded the PEN Translation Prize in 1976 for his translation of E.M. Cioran’s A Short History of Decay and the American Book Award for his 1983 translation of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal. Howard was a long-time poetry editor of The Paris Review and is currently poetry editor of The Western Humanities Review. In addition to his Pulitzer, he has also received the Academy of Arts and Letters Literary Award and a MacArthur Fellowship. A former Chancellor of the Academy of Poets, he is Professor of Practice in the writing program at Columbia's School of the Arts. He served as Poet Laureate of the State of New York from 1994 to 1997. In 1982, Howard was named a Chevalier of L’Ordre National du Mérite by the government of France.

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LILLIE LANGTRY, British actress was born (d. 1929) Langtry was one of the most famous actresses of her day, but her real talent were her dalliances and marrying well.


Her heyday as a society beauty culminated in her becoming a semi-official mistress to the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria’s son Albert Edward ("Bertie"), the future king Edward VII. Her relationship with Edward cooled when she infuriated him by becoming intoxicated at a party and slipping and falling after stepping on a piece of ice. He later (possibly to rid himself of the affair) encouraged Prince Louie of Battenberg, to replace him as Langtry's lover.


Bertie once complained to her, "I've spent enough on you to build a battleship," whereupon she tartly replied, "And you've spent enough in me to float one." Other lovers included wealthy Britons Robert Peel and George Baird. Among her friends were the Irish writer Oscar Wilde and the American artist James McNeill Whistler. Langtry became an American citizen, and divorced her husband the same year in California. A letter of condolence written by her to a widow reads in part: "I too have lost a husband, but alas! it was no great loss."


In 1899 she married the much younger Hugo Gerald de Bathe, who would inherit a baronetcy, and became a leading owner in the horse-racing world, before retiring to Monte Carlo. Her last years of acting were performed in vaudeville.


She resided during her final years in a home in Monaco, with her husband living separate from her a short distance away. During this period the two saw one another only when she called on him for social gatherings, or in brief private encounters. Her constant companion during this time was her close friend, Mathilda Peat, the widow of Lillie's deceased butler.

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