OUTstanding Virginians 2009

Billy Haines

First openly gay Hollywood actor during the silent movie era

Haines (1900-1973) was born in Staunton, but lived in Richmond and Hopewell before becoming a famous Hollywood silent actor and the first openly gay Hollywood actor. His co-stars included Lon Chaney and Mary Pickford. His movie with Joan Crawford was the first to be shown at the Loew’s Theater (now the Carpenter Center). After his Hollywood career, he and his partner of 50 years, Jimmy Shields, developed a successful interior design and antique business.