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Meet the Sexual Candy Man of Hollywood’s Closeted Elite, from Cary Grant to Katharine Hepburn

Meet the Sexual Candy Man of Hollywood’s Closeted Elite, from Cary Grant to Katharine Hepburn
26 Jul
1:03

Scotty with actress Valerie Vernon and Constance Dowling in the 1950s.

Courtesy of Scotty Bowers archive.

In our October 2006 issue, in an article excerpted from Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn, Vanity Fair outed Spencer Tracy. William Mann, the book’s author, told me his source for this information was a man who says he had sex with Tracy on numerous occasions at the cottage the star leased from George Cukor on the director’s estate. (The received explanation was that Tracy, a Catholic separated from his wife, shared the cottage with his lover, Katharine Hepburn.) Mann said that the man in question, whose name was Scotty, had become a well-known figure in certain Hollywood circles. He worked at a gas station on the corner of North Van Ness Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, out of which, he says, he and a cadre of his male and female friends serviced Hollywood celebrities—many of them closeted homosexuals. Mann was assured he could totally trust Scotty by the late Cukor’s longtime secretary. Scotty agreed to cooperate with Mann on the condition that his last name be withheld, because he was married.

His full name, Scotty Bowers, appeared in 2012 on the cover of his autobiography, Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars, co-written with Lionel Friedberg and produced by literary agent David Kuhn, a former V.F. editor under Tina Brown. The book alternated chapters of Scotty’s valiant service in the Marines during World War II with chapters of his sexual exploits with his clients and close friends in the film industry. His long, startling list included, in addition to Tracy and Hepburn, Cary Grant, Tyrone Power, Rock Hudson, Charles Laughton, Raymond Burr, Vincent Price, Cole Porter, and Vivien Leigh.

Scotty in Arizona in the 1940s and in L.A. during World War II.

Courtesy of Scotty Bowers archive.

Someone else who could have been on that list was Gore Vidal, whose editor at V.F. was Matt Tyrnauer—before Tyrnauer turned full-time to directing and producing documentary films. Vidal encouraged him to option Scotty’s book, because everyone in the know, he said, knew that every word in it was true. Dominick Dunne also vouched for Scotty’s veracity to Tyrnauer.

The resulting product is Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, which was a hot ticket at the Toronto Film Festival, and which opens at the ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles on July 27 and at the IFC Center in New York on August 3.

The film depicts the man—who has long been designated a pander, a bawd, a male madam, a pimp—as he is today, an endearing 95-year-old hoarder, living with his second wife, a roadhouse singer. He fills up two houses—one of them bequeathed to him by a wealthy male lover—and multiple garages with his memorabilia. He speaks lovingly of his first wife and their daughter, who died young, and he phones his nephew to ask him not to let his mother see her brother’s autobiography—“It would upset her.” Speaking of his only other sibling, the brother killed in World War II, he breaks down in tears. An animal lover, Scotty puts out pet food at night for the skunks and raccoons in his neighborhood.

It’s no wonder that Alfred Kinsey studied this man intensively. He is not in the least embarrassed about giving pleasure through sex for $20 a pop. He is not even ready to blame dozens of priests who used him for sex when he was a kid in Chicago. He visits a few of his old colleagues in the sex business, and they all seem to feel the same. They provided a safety zone for people whose careers would have been ruined if the truth about them emerged in the decades before gay rights and the AIDS crisis. Above all, Scotty insists that he would never have considered exposing a single one of them when they were alive.

Scotty during the filming of the movie outside of the home of Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester in Hollywood.

By Jonas Kord.

He talks at length about Hepburn and Tracy: “They were merely friends. . . . They were not in the bed department together at all.” He says Tracy, drunk, would ask him to spend the night, and then, the next morning, would act as if nothing had happened. Asked whether he really obtained 150 female sex partners for Hepburn, he replies, “Remember, this was over a period of 39 years—almost 50 years.” Hepburn’s lesbianism is confirmed on camera by the late gossip columnist Liz Smith. (William Mann and Stephen Fry also appear as talking heads.)

The film is full of revelations. My personal favorite is Scotty’s assessment of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. During their visits to L.A., they would stay in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, requesting Scotty to provide partners for them—usually guys for him, girls for her. He says the duke was rather shy. The duchess called all the shots. “She was a real ballsy chick,” Scotty recalls.

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Full ScreenPhotos:Bill Gold’s Movie Posters Were the Stuff of Hollywood Dreams
*Casablanca*

Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart is the dashing star of this poster, which also features co-stars Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid.

Photo: From Warner Bros/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock.

*My Fair Lady*

My Fair Lady

Gold went for a chic illustration for this 1964 Audrey Hepburn classic.

Photo: From Everett Collection.

*The Music Man*

The Music Man

The Broadway-musical-turned-blockbuster film got this sunny piece of art in 1962.

Photo: From Everett Collection.

*Bullitt*

Bullitt

This 1968 Steve McQueen thriller got appropriately cool and streamlined artwork.

Photo: From Everett Collection.

*Deliverance*

Deliverance

This is one of Gold’s trippier works—a canoe bursting out of an eyeball—but it perfectly captures the 1972 film’s horrifying energy.

Photo: From Everett Collection.

*The Wiz*

The Wiz

Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Ted Ross, and Nipsey Russell are leaping for joy in this 1978 reimagining of The Wizard of Oz.

Photo: From ©Universal/Everett Collection.

*Mystic River*

Mystic River

The 2003 drama, directed and scored by Eastwood, is the second to last theatrical poster Gold ever made.

Photo: From Warner Brothers/Everett Collection.

<em>Casablanca</em>

Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart is the dashing star of this poster, which also features co-stars Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid.

From Warner Bros/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock.

<em>My Fair Lady</em>

My Fair Lady

Gold went for a chic illustration for this 1964 Audrey Hepburn classic.

From Everett Collection.

<em>The Music Man</em>

The Music Man

The Broadway-musical-turned-blockbuster film got this sunny piece of art in 1962.

From Everett Collection.

<em>Bullitt</em>

Bullitt

This 1968 Steve McQueen thriller got appropriately cool and streamlined artwork.

From Everett Collection.

<em>Dirty Harry</em>

Dirty Harry

This 1971 crime thriller was the first of many films Gold would work on for Clint Eastwood.

From Everett Collection.

<em>Diamonds Are Forever</em>

Diamonds Are Forever

Here’s a rather lascivious work for the 1971 James Bond film.

From Everett Collection.

<em>The Exorcist</em>

The Exorcist

Gold opted for art that was minimal—stark white lettering on a black background—but still effective and terrifying for the classic 1973 horror movie.

From ©Warner Bros./Everett Collection

<em>Deliverance</em>

Deliverance

This is one of Gold’s trippier works—a canoe bursting out of an eyeball—but it perfectly captures the 1972 film’s horrifying energy.

From Everett Collection.

<em>The Wiz</em>

The Wiz

Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Ted Ross, and Nipsey Russell are leaping for joy in this 1978 reimagining of The Wizard of Oz.

From ©Universal/Everett Collection.

<em>Mystic River</em>

Mystic River

The 2003 drama, directed and scored by Eastwood, is the second to last theatrical poster Gold ever made.

From Warner Brothers/Everett Collection.

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