Sunday, January 6, 2013

CURIOUS (and handsome) GEORGE

George Nader was born in Southern California and became interested in acting at an early age.   He went to Occidental College and earned a degree in English in 1943. After graduation, he joined the Navy and served as a communications officer in the Pacific.  When the war ended, George returned home and studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. According to an interview with Los Angeles Magazine (April 2002), Miller was 17 and Nader was 22 when Miller first saw his future lover at the Hollywood Bowl's men's room during a concert, at which time "He had on a white shirt with Camel cigarettes sticking out of the sleeve and I said, 'God, look at that beauty.'"  Four years later in 1947, fate stepped in when George actually met Mark, who had one of the lead roles in a production of Oh, Susannah! Nader was in the chorus.

The two men fell in love with one another and moved in together.  Mark had wanted to go to New York and study opera, but abandoned his own dreams in order to stay in California to be with his love.  Miller's decision would turn out to be instrumental in both the life of George and also of another young gay man, Rock Hudson.  The three men became good friends and Miller worked at various jobs, including working as a carhop at Jack's on the Sunset Strip and a shoe salesman, in order to provide additional income while Nader and Rock became established as actors. The trio would remain lifetime friend, as close as family with one another.  Miller would eventually work as Hudson's personal secretary for 13 years.  Mark and George were the executor’s of Rock Hudson’e estate.
George was a contract player throughout the 1950s at Universal-International Pictures.  By 1952, Nader was successful enough that Miller began working as his business manager.  His first break came in 1953's Robot Monster, a cheaply shot, science-fiction thrillerIn the movie, Nader battles a space alien portrayed by a man in a gorilla suit and a diving helmet.
The actor was given lots of movies to work (he proved he could handle westerns, musicals, comedies, action and adventure films) and lots of publicity (he was photographed shirtless and in swim trunks as often as possible for the magazines. At 6' 1" and 180 pounds, George had the kind of physique fan magazine readers drooled over), but none of this propelled him to the top of the box office top.

Although he lived openly with his partner Mark, Nader did not publicly acknowledge his sexual orientation during his acting career during those hostile years towards gay men; and Universal Studios went to great pains to hide it.  Publicity was designed to show Nader on dates with beautiful female stars.  Only in 1986, after the death of their friend Rock Hudson, did Nader and Miller come out.

Some suggest that George's sexuality, coupled with a paranoid studio, tanked his career; others disagree and believe that he simply wasn't connecting with audiences to be a leading man.  Yet others believe George was too-happily in love and would only go so far to hide it, which wasn't far enough as far as the studios and movie gossip magazines expected.  In any event, rumors about Nader's homosexuality began to surface and his box office draw wasn't as promising as hoped for, so  there seems to have been a lack of interest in protecting him in comparison to the efforts made for Rock Hudson. At the time of his death, George had been with the love of his life for 55 years.

George and Rock
 It's reported that Tony Curtis, who appeared with Mr. Nader in the 1955 crime drama Six Bridges to Cross  called him ''one of the kindest and most generous men I've ever known.''
When his film contract ended, George went into working on television series, both as a continuing lead (Ellery Queen) and as a guest star, but he ultimately wound up in Europe in the mid-1960's.   He became a big star in Germany, playing Jerry Cotton, an American James Bond-type in a very popular series of films.  In fact for a brief period Nader was the second biggest star in Germany.  He left the business following an eye injury that made being in front of strong studio klieg lighting very difficult.

George published a gay-themed sci-fi novel, Chrome in 1978 and he wrote another novel, a sort-of tell-all Hollywood tale, “The Perils of Paul,” which was privately published.  More coming up about Chrome so please stay tuned.

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