October 24, 1912 – Frank McCarthy
I don’t blame you for never hearing of Rupert Allan or his longtime partner Frank McCarthy (1912-1986). They wouldn’t be in my radar if I hadn’t met them at a party at Hollywood Hills home of a noted producer in autumn 1974. They were both masculine, handsome silver-haired older gentlemen and I had a very open mind.
Both were World War II military men who became movers and shakers among the Hollywood elite. They even included presidents and European royalty among their personal friends. Allan became a publicist with many star clients, including Bette Davis, Rock Hudson, Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen, Gregory Peck, Deborah Kerr and Marlene Dietrich.
Allen was a Rhodes scholar and a lieutenant commander for intelligence in the U.S. before turning to a career in journalism, working for the St. Louis Dispatch and then Look magazine. In 1955, he began a new career as a publicity agent. He was a popular and respected publicist, and invitations to his Beverly Hills home were highly coveted.
As press representative for Grace Kelly‘s wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956, Allan defused a potentially explosive situation when 1,600 journalists showed up to cover the event. Only 40 had been expected. He later served as Monaco’s Consul General in Los Angeles.
Later, in 1989, Prince Rainier made Allan a Chevalier of the Order of Grimaldi in honor of his service.
As West Coast editor for Look, one of his first interviews was with Marilyn Monroe, who asked him to represent her.
Allan had a house on Seabright Place, off Topanga Canyon in Beverly Hills, and McCarthy lived in a somewhat grander, larger house next door. Through his association with Allan, McCarthy got to know Kelly, and when Princess Grace visited Los Angeles, she would stay with McCarthy. She loved the two men, and to her credit, Princess Grace admonished anyone who made disparaging remarks about gay guys. Nowadays, it seems quite unnecessary that two gentlemen would need to maintain separate homes to keep their relationship from the press, but it was a very different era.
When Rudolf Nureyev performed in the United States for the first time in 1963, Allan, as a friend of Nureyev’s boyfriend Erik Brhun‘s brother, Christopher, invited Nureyev to stay with him during his time Los Angeles. A party was co-hosted by McCarthy. Among the stars were one of Nureyev’s idols, Fred Astaire and Natalie Wood who chatted with Nureyev in Russian.
McCarthy was a retired brigadier general who had served as an aide to General George C. Marshall during WW II. When he was just 33 years old. he became the youngest Assistant Secretary of State (1945), and he became personal friends with both Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Before his military service, McCarthy worked as a reporter and then became the press agent for legendary Broadway theater producer George Abbott‘s Brother Rat (1937), a farce about students at the Virginia Military Institute, his alma mater. In 1938, Brother Rat was made into a film starring Priscilla Lane with Ronald Reagan in a minor role. It was during this film shoot that Reagan met Jane Wyman, who he later married.
McCarthy wanted to be a film producer and he first found work at 20th Century Fox, then for Universal Studios. His first movie, Decision Before Dawn (1951), a spy picture that McCarthy produced with Anatole Litvak was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
For the next 20 years, McCarthy worked on making a biographical film about General George S. Patton. This film, Patton (1970) was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and starred George C. Scott as Patton. McCarthy won an Oscar for producing the film Patton (1970). Scott won for Best Actor, but he refused to attend the Academy Award ceremony, so McCarthy accepted on Scott’s behalf. The next day Scott refused his statuette (the first actor to do so), and McCarthy returned it to the Academy.
McCarthy later produced an early television movie, Fireball Forward (1972) a war drama. In 1977, he produced the film MacArthur, about the life of General MacArthur from 1942 to 1952 starring Gregory Peck.
Patton‘s Oscar is on display at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) museum in Lexington, Va., where generations of Pattons and McCarthy received their military academy education.
McCarthy had left VMI wanting to break into show business, but with the outbreak of war in 1941, he reenlisted, becoming an aide to General Marshall and attaining the rank of Major when he was just 30. His honors include the Distinguished Service Medal and Legion of Merit, and Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
In 1976, McCarthy donated his papers to the George C. Marshall Research Foundation on the VMI campus. The 33 boxes of documents covered the years 1941-1949 and include correspondence from Irving Berlin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nelson Rockefeller, Frank Capra, Eisenhower, Jose Ferrer, Darryl Zanuck and Patton, a crazy mix of military, political and entertainment royalty. The collection contains letters between McCarthy and Allan.
McCarthy had been groomed for a cabinet position in the Truman administration, but he abruptly withdrew his name from consideration because of an undefined “illness”. At the time, it was not possible for even a completely closeted queer to serve in such a high-profile capacity, even though he had the protection of powerful friends. General Marshall lobbied strenuously to end the prosecution of gay servicemen. McCarthy’s retirement was a sad act of political self-sacrifice.
As the head of public relations for Fox, McCarthy also acted as an in-house censor to trouble-shoot problematic material during production. This was when Allan and McCarthy became a couple. It was relatively easy for them to hide their gayness. They were both butch in demeanor and utterly discreet. They just lived as next door neighbors, and their personal relationship was known only to Hollywood insiders. When they attended the same party or premier, they invariably escorted female companions. When McCarthy died of cancer in 1974, Allan issued a press release in which he stated only that McCarthy was ”unmarried”, an act of self-censorship. In 1991 Rupert died in his sleep at his home in Beverly Hills. None of their obituaries mentioned each other although they were a couple for more than 25 years. Neither McCarthy’s Wikipedia entry or his IMBD page mentions Allan. There are, of course, no photos of them together that I can find.
In Grace Of Monaco (2014), which stars Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly, This Is Us star Milo Ventimiglia plays Allan.