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Fri, 09.20.1918

Gordon Heath, Actor born

Gordon Heath

*Gordon Heath was born on this date in 1918. He was a Black Gay actor and musician.

Heath was born in New York City, his parents only child. His father, Cyril Gordon Heath, had emigrated from Barbados to the US, where he met and married Hattie Hooper. Young Heath showed an early talent for music and art but opted to pursue an acting career, working on stage and radio. Joining the New York radio station WMCA in 1945, he became the first black staff announcer employed by a major US radio station.

In 1945 he appeared on Broadway to great success in the play Deep Are the Roots, written by Arnaud d'Usseau and James Gow and directed by Elia Kazan. The play ran for 447 performances, and when it was produced in London's West End, Heath reprised his co-starring role. After the six-month London run, Heath decided to settle in Paris, France, in 1948. He also acted on stage in Paris in 1950 in London and later for BBC Television. He appeared in the title role of The Emperor Jones (1953) and Othello (1955), both live BBC telecasts.

Heath directed an English-speaking production company, the Studio Theater of Paris, for ten years, in the 1960s. He and his music and life partner Lee Payant operated a Left Bank café in Paris called L'Abbaye. Their clientele included the actress Rita Hayworth and other celebrities of the era, and where Heath and Payant were the entertainers. Many of the duo's folk albums from the 1950s were recorded there. Payant died on December 14, 1976. Gordon Heath died in Paris after a lengthy illness on August 27, 1991.

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