William Haines

Active - 1923 - 1934  |   Born - Jan 1, 1900   |   Died - Dec 26, 1973   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance, Comedy Drama, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Leaving his Virginia hometown at age 14 to earn a living, William Haines was an assistant bookkeeper at a New York bond house when he sent in his photograph to a "New Faces" contest sponsored by movie producer Samuel Goldwyn. The winners of the contest were Haines and another future film star, Eleanor Boardman. Entering films in 1922, Haines rose to stardom at MGM as the star of several breezy comedy-dramas, in which he usually played a smart-lipped braggart who was forced to eat humble pie sometime before the fadeout. Some of Haines' most popular films were those with a sports setting: Brown of Harvard (1926), Slide Kelly Slide (1927), Spring Fever (1927). His favorite leading ladies included Joan Crawford and Marion Davies. Though he weathered the changeover to talkies, Haines' popularity diminished in the early 1930s, due to the emergence of younger cocksure types like James Cagney and Robert Montgomery. After his film career ended in 1934 (an event accelerated in part by public revelation of the actor's homosexuality), William Haines launched a successful second career as a highly sought-after interior decorator.

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