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Actress Charlotte Rae Says Her Husband Shamed Her When He Came Out as Gay After 25 Years of Marriage

Actress Charlotte Rae (The Facts of Life) wrote a memoir called "The Facts of My Life" that she's shopping around, Page Six reports:

RaeThe book describes how she discovered her husband of 25 years, composer John Strauss, was gay. Rae and Strauss, who won a Grammy for the soundtrack to "Amadeus," had just moved into a new house in LA when he confessed he was gay and had been unfaithful. "First came the shock of what he had done behind my back, then the sting of being deceived for years," she writes. "All I could feel was the betrayal and, worse than that, my shame." The pair, married in 1950, had two kids and divorced in 1975 after Strauss came out to her. Strauss died in 2011. "John’s secret confirmed my feelings of inferiority," Rae writes. "That I was less than a woman . . . That I didn’t deserve to be loved and valued."

In February 2011, Rae expressed support when one of her Facts of Life castmastes, Geri Jewell, came out of the closet, saying,  "Her coming out as a lesbian, well, it's a healthy time to come out, everybody is very open about it, which is wonderful, absolutely wonderful...I just wish her more and more good health and prosperity. She obviously knows how to love. We love her."

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  1. She invested 25 years in a relationship that was doomed to failure. She had a right to feel a range of emotions. Plus, societal views of homosexuality went through a lot of upheaval during the span of her marriage.

    What's important to note is that she did not let her personal, negative experience overshadow her view of gay people in general. That she can be supportive of people coming out speaks volumes. One wonders how different her life might have been had her husband been able to come out long before he married her.

    Posted by: Mike W | Jan 21, 2013 11:48:17 AM


  2. I'm surprised there aren't support groups for women who get caught up in these situations.

    Posted by: anon | Jan 21, 2013 12:14:27 PM


  3. You take the good, you take the bad...........

    I can sympathize with any straight person who has been misled due to someone's inability to be truthful with themselves. Low self-esteem, which Mrs. Garrett is stating she had, would be compounded greatly by such an experience.

    Posted by: Barton G | Jan 21, 2013 12:39:12 PM


  4. So "Mr. Garrett" didn't like girls, GIRLS, GIIIIRRRLLLSS?!

    Posted by: Jonny | Jan 21, 2013 2:48:35 PM


  5. Makes sense to me. It's shaming to feel tricked.

    Posted by: DrunkEnough | Jan 21, 2013 2:52:05 PM


  6. I think when she said "shame", Mrs. Rae meant that she felt it was her fault that her husband cheated on her with men, not because she saw homosexuality as "shameful". At least, that's how I'm seeing it.

    Posted by: FuryOfFirestorm | Jan 21, 2013 3:02:57 PM


  7. The thing is, she's writing a memoir. If she's doing it "right", she's describing her feelings at the time (not in the here and now). In 1975, when this was not something talked about openly--you can bet she would feel shame. She would not have felt that there was anyone she could talk to about it (even though we know now there was). She's being authentic. Given her mindset (she speaks about her low self-image), she would feel ashamed, and would have to take some time to move beyond that. Give her a break (yes, I know that's a different sitcom...)

    Posted by: Warren | Jan 21, 2013 4:15:02 PM


  8. This is a very common situation for people of her generation- sadly it's still going on today- fear, religion and family obligation create these fake marriages.

    Posted by: jaragon | Jan 21, 2013 5:42:55 PM


  9. A buddy of mine recently came out at age 52 with four adult children. He said.."I did not want to go to my grave without my kids knowing who their real Dad was.." His wife..after her emotional roller coaster..actually felt relieved in strange sort of way. She finally realized that his "lack of interest" in her physically was not her fault..something that she always blamed on herself.. He is so happy now. He has a BF and they have a blast at their rural farmhouse making homemade wine..maple syrup..and tending to their garden. It actually was a happy ending for all...

    Posted by: Jim Stone | Jan 21, 2013 5:50:11 PM


  10. She didn't feel any shame from being on The Facts of Life? I couldn't even say, "Tootie", with a straight face.

    Posted by: parkrunner | Jan 22, 2013 1:17:09 AM


  11. Over the years, I've had women who told me that they could forgive a husband who strayed with another woman but not one who strayed with a man. And I've had women tell me just the opposite. Go figure.

    Posted by: Rich | Jan 22, 2013 3:58:59 AM


  12. Gay people are the most deceitful, because of the climate of non-acceptance in which many were raised. Even with our presidents speech that highlighted gays, many will still exist in dangerous environments. Of course Obama is striving to make history, since his popularity only ranks with Carter's and Ford's among the Presidents since WWII.

    Posted by: BigG | Jan 22, 2013 5:52:12 PM


  13. Rich, I remember having this conversation with my sisters. They said at least with a woman they know they can compete with her. It's not like the other woman doesn't have anything she herself doesn't have. But if it's another man, how can a woman compete with him? I've heard those sentiments echoed on many talk shows about the subject of women marrying gay men. On another note, I've heard of women who say it was a relief that it was another man. It just showed that her husband went in another direction, not something she did herself. Go figure.

    Posted by: terry | Jan 22, 2013 6:03:47 PM


  14. Shame on all those commenting who are critical of gay men who marry women. What else can they do when they want at least the appearance of a normal life--children, the rose covered cottae with white picket fence.
    In 1950, at the age of l7, with no knowledge of the world, what it meant to be gay, conflicted, even urged by parents and a priest to marry and "become straight," I did it. I was a good husband in every respect, had two children, and cheated on her every chance I had (and there were a lot of chances. I lived in a constant state of shame that I was gay, guilty because I couldn't keep my cock in my pants if some guy wanted it. My wife never suspected and ended up cheating on me with another man.
    Sooooo, I married again, stayed married for 24 years, cheated with men every chance I got (and there were a lot--I was a good looking stud who gay men came on to all the time). My wife bailed me out of jail because I was caught in an entrapment by a vice cop who came on to me, allowed me to suck his cock, and then arrested me for lewd behavior. She chose to stay with me, refused to believe I was guilty or gay. When I came out for good after 24 years, she still wanted to maintain the marriage and turned her energy into hatred when I refused. We had no kids. (lost one)
    Everyone who came into contact with us said we had one of the few "perfect marriages." It was, except that I was sucking dicks on the side. I'm an old guy now and still live in guilt, and tolerate her bitterness when our paths cross.
    I wrote about that in The Stinger Is In The Tail.

    Posted by: Mikey | Jan 23, 2013 4:08:34 PM


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