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Old 08 December 2007, 11:02 PM
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Icon106 Marvin Gay(e)

Comment: I hope you can help with something that has been bothering me for
quite awhile, but hasn't prompted me to write you until the subject became
the Final Jeapordy answer on the tv show "Jeapordy" that was shown in
Rochester, NY on 12/6 or 12/7 (forget the exact date).

The answer was: "This singer added a letter to his name to avoid being
teased." I *knew* the question was: Who is Marvin Gaye.

I've heard about this for years. I grew up during the heyday of Motown and
know that Gaye was singing in the 50's and was well established by the
early 60's.

"Gay" was not adopted by the homosexual/lesbian community until the late
1960's. Why would Marvin Gaye change his name a full decade before Gay
became associated with 'an alternative' lifestyle.

I certainly hope you can help research this. "Jeapordy" has a solid
reputation and I hope they didn't screw up.
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  #2  
Old 08 December 2007, 11:03 PM
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I thought he changed the spelling of his surname to obscure his identity after he killed Tammi Terrell ...

- snopes
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  #3  
Old 09 December 2007, 05:24 AM
hevach
 
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When exactly did he change his name? None of the sites I turned up on him say when, but they all do mention his last name was originally Gay. Did he start singing under the name, or was it before/when his career started?

Gay wasn't adopted by the homosexual community until the late 60's, but it was used as a derogotory term before that. According to the infallible Wikipedia, the first uses of the term that seem to refer to homosexuality were in the 20's - it mentions the book Miss Furr & Miss Skeene from 1922, and the musical Bittersweet in 1929. It was established by mid-century as a derogotory term for homosexuals.

Even before that, apparently the word had had negative connotations about sexual promiscuity (but not orientation) for a very long time, so I suppose he could still have been avoiding teasing.
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Old 09 December 2007, 06:11 AM
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The use of the word gay to mean homosexual is recorded from the early 1950's and www.etymonline.com says that date "is certainly too late".
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Old 09 December 2007, 06:35 AM
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I read once that he changed the spelling when he started singing because his father was a preacher, and Marvin didn't want to hurt his standing with his parishoners with the embarrassment of a son who made his living through secular entertainment. But the book I read that in was not a particularly reliable source, so it could be something else entirely.
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  #6  
Old 09 December 2007, 02:29 PM
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I watched that show and wondered the same thing myself. Of course, the question-answer was vague enough that it never explicitly said his original name refered to homosexuals, just that he did so to prevent being teased. And I'm not sure how adding an "e" would make much of a difference.

Pogue
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  #7  
Old 10 December 2007, 01:41 AM
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In Bringing Up Baby (1938), Cary Grant, through a concatenation of circumstances, is clad in a woman's dressing gown; a haughty lady asks him why on earth he's dressed like that, and he responds, "Because I just went gay all of a sudden!"

Just a sighting between the twenties and the sixties.
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  #8  
Old 10 December 2007, 03:00 AM
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I was lead to belive that Marvin added the "e" after he got into an altercation with his father, physical injuries and a lawsuit and Marvin was the victim
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Old 10 December 2007, 07:24 AM
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Well, I know that Billboard magazine (and reference works based on Billboard) spelled the name as "Gaye" since his very first chart single (the spelling is based on the actual single credits provided by the label).
After checking I did find this bit from the Allmusic.com entry on Gaye,

Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. (in the style of his hero Sam Cooke, he added the "e" to his surname as an adult) was born April 2, 1939, in Washington, D.C.

Now the entry on Sam Cooke doesn't give a specific reason why he added the "e" but Cooke, who'd already had a fairly established career in gospel music, recorded a pop (i.e., secular) song under the pseudonym "Dale Cooke" to avoid undue attention from his gospel music fans.
There is, however, no suggestion that Marvin Gay changed his surname to "Gaye" over "teasing". (Sounds to me like Jeopardy is spreading an urban legend, however unintentional.)

(I did know that Dionne Warwick added an "e" to her last name for a period in the 1970s based on a psychic reading. The psychic claimed that her existing name was "unlucky" because it had 13 letters. Why Dionne bought into that crap is a big mystery in and of itself. She'd spent the 1960s with a 13-letter name and contributed dozens of classic hit songs, almost exclusively from the Burt Bacharach-Hal David catalog. And, interestingly, after dropping the "e", she had a career revival. Of course, there was the singular irony that her only real pop hit during the "Warwicke" phase was also her first #1 Top 40 pop hit, "Then Came You"--a duet with the Spinners. During her "Warwicke" phase, she did have a few R&B hits, but none that really rivaled her 1960s classics or her 1979 "comeback" and its successors.)
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Old 10 December 2007, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
In Bringing Up Baby (1938), Cary Grant, through a concatenation of circumstances, is clad in a woman's dressing gown; a haughty lady asks him why on earth he's dressed like that, and he responds, "Because I just went gay all of a sudden!"

Just a sighting between the twenties and the sixties.
That's one of the first appearances in the mainstream, but the word was underground gay slang for decades at that point (Grant probably picked it up when living in New York in the 1920s).

In George Chauncey's Gay New York, a study of the 1920s, "gay" as "homosexual" was shown to be well entrenched in the gay community. It served as a shibboleth -- you could approach a stranger and ask where you could go to find a gay time and, if gay, he'd know what you meant. However, if the other person was straight, he wouldn't know.

The word went mainstream in the early 70s.

BTW, Grant shows his knowledge of gay life in New York in another line from Bringing Up Baby. When asked what he's doing in that dress, he says, "I'm just waiting for a bus on 42nd Street." 42nd Street was a gay hangout in the 20s, and if challenged by the police, the excuse for cruising the streets was that you were waiting for a bus.

Quote:
(I did know that Dionne Warwick added an "e" to her last name for a period in the 1970s based on a psychic reading. The psychic claimed that her existing name was "unlucky" because it had 13 letters. Why Dionne bought into that crap is a big mystery in and of itself. She'd spent the 1960s with a 13-letter name and contributed dozens of classic hit songs, almost exclusively from the Burt Bacharach-Hal David catalog. And, interestingly, after dropping the "e", she had a career revival. Of course, there was the singular irony that her only real pop hit during the "Warwicke" phase was also her first #1 Top 40 pop hit, "Then Came You"--a duet with the Spinners. During her "Warwicke" phase, she did have a few R&B hits, but none that really rivaled her 1960s classics or her 1979 "comeback" and its successors.)
Leading to her classic billing:

Dionne Warwicke
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  #11  
Old 10 December 2007, 02:55 PM
Victoria J
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
In Bringing Up Baby (1938), Cary Grant, through a concatenation of circumstances, is clad in a woman's dressing gown; a haughty lady asks him why on earth he's dressed like that, and he responds, "Because I just went gay all of a sudden!"

Just a sighting between the twenties and the sixties.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
That's one of the first appearances in the mainstream, but the word was underground gay slang for decades at that point (Grant probably picked it up when living in New York in the 1920s).

...

BTW, Grant shows his knowledge of gay life in New York in another line from Bringing Up Baby. When asked what he's doing in that dress, he says, "I'm just waiting for a bus on 42nd Street." 42nd Street was a gay hangout in the 20s, and if challenged by the police, the excuse for cruising the streets was that you were waiting for a bus.
I've been told that Cary Grant always employed gay men as assistants. It was part of his legendary penny pinching at a time when women didn't do that sort of work. Young men who thought he was gorgeous would work for less.

Is there any truth in this ?

(You start of with one urban legend and someone comes along with another).

Victoria J
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  #12  
Old 10 December 2007, 05:04 PM
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I've started reading Charles Higham's biography of Grant, but haven't gotten that far. Higham indicates Grant was probably bisexual.
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  #13  
Old 11 December 2007, 12:28 AM
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While no doubt at least some of the comments made here are facetious, (here's looking at you, Brad) it's worth noting that Grant didn't write the screenplay for Bringing up Baby or any of his other movies, as far as I know. So saying that a line in his movies is attributable to his knowledge of something is kind of silly.

Also, words change meanings over the years. Old movies often have a character calling another person or themselves 'queer'. They don't generally mean homosexual, they mean odd, or funny in the head. (Which may be the actual line that BFG is citing - don't know the movie well enough to say.)

As for the ubiquitous rumors of his homosexuality, I like what one of his wives (I think Betsy Drake but am not sure about this) is quoted as saying: "Why would I think he was gay when he was so busy nfbsking me?"

Ali "Even I want to be Cary Grant" Baba
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Old 11 December 2007, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AliBaba View Post
While no doubt at least some of the comments made here are facetious, (here's looking at you, Brad) it's worth noting that Grant didn't write the screenplay for Bringing up Baby or any of his other movies, as far as I know. So saying that a line in his movies is attributable to his knowledge of something is kind of silly.
Except that the line was not in the original screenplay; both were ad libbed by Grant (the film had a lot of ad libbing in it).

Quote:
As for the ubiquitous rumors of his homosexuality, I like what one of his wives (I think Betsy Drake but am not sure about this) is quoted as saying: "Why would I think he was gay when he was so busy nfbsking me?"
It might have been Dyan Cannon, but, in any case, Higham makes a strong case that Grant was attracted to men, too. Certainly his living with Randolph Scott was highly unusual for two straight men of the time (the "sharing rent" excuse by the studio doesn't hold up: both men made more than enough money to live in the house alone). The more recent biography of Grant by Marc Elliot also makes the case for his bisexuality.
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Old 11 December 2007, 06:11 PM
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Quote:
Except that the line was not in the original screenplay; both were ad libbed by Grant (the film had a lot of ad libbing in it).
Ah. Well, then in that case, never mind. :o

And those rumors are not new, they've been floating around for a very long time.

As for which of his wives made that comment, I'm almost positive it wasn't Dyan Cannon. On the other hand, I've already had my ass handed to me once in this thread, so that should teach me to not make assertions.

AliBaba
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  #16  
Old 11 December 2007, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victoria J View Post
(You start of with one urban legend and someone comes along with another).
Well if you don't like ULs you're on the wrong messageboard.
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  #17  
Old 12 December 2007, 07:50 PM
Victoria J
 
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Bonsai Kitten

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
Well if you don't like ULs you're on the wrong messageboard.
Unfortunately I think if I'm going to help them proliferate I'm also on the wrong website. At least I've got my hobby of creating Bonsai kittens to fall back on...

I do find I spend less and less time on the actual urban legend threads, now I spend more time in the other discussions. I'm also surprised to see more fresh faces in the legend discussions.

I'm enjoying this thread though because I love Bringing Up Baby.

Victoria J
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  #18  
Old 01 April 2008, 01:05 PM
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I was always told he added the E on to match with fellow singer Sam Cook(e).
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