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Casey Donovan (actor)
Boysinthesandad.jpg
Casey Donovan in the role that made him famous
Birthdate: November 2, 1943(1943-11-02)
Birth location: East Bloomfield, New York, United States
Birth name: John Calvin Culver
Date of death: August 10, 1987 (aged 43)
Height: 5'9" (1.75 m)
Eye color: Blue
Hair color: Blonde
Ethnicity: Caucasian
Casey Donovan (actor) at IMDb
Casey Donovan (actor) at IAFD
Casey Donovan (actor) at AFDB

Casey Donovan (November 2, 1943[1] – August 10, 1987[2]) was an American male pornographic actor of the 1970s and 1980s, appearing primarily in adult films and videos catering to gay male audiences.

Following a brief career as a teacher and a stint as a highly-paid male model, Donovan appeared in the film that would cement his status as a gay icon, Boys in the Sand, in 1971. Attempts to build on his notoriety to achieve mainstream crossover success failed, but Donovan continued to be a bankable star in the adult industry for the next 15 years.

Contents

Biography

Casey Donovan was born John Calvin Culver in East Bloomfield, New York, growing up there with his parents and older brother, Duane.[3] He graduated from teachers' college in 1965 and after graduation accepted a teaching position in Peekskill, New York.[4] He went on to take a job at the private Ethical Culture Fieldston School on New York City's Central Park West[5] but was fired during his second year following an altercation in which he physically disciplined a female student (reportedly the daughter of actor Eli Wallach).[6] Following his dismissal he drifted into being an escort and relocated to New York City.[7] He also began pursuing an acting career, appearing in summer stock theatre with the prestigious Peterborough Players.[8]

Through one of his escorting clients, Culver landed a spot with the Wilhelmina Models modeling agency, commanding an hourly rate of USD$60.[9] He continued to pursue stage work, landing an understudy job in 1969 in the Off-Broadway gay-themed play And Puppy Dog Tails, making his Broadway debut in 1970 in the Native American-themed production Brave and a co-starring role in the off-Broadway Circle in the Water, also in 1970.[10]

In 1971, Culver played a supporting role in a low budget sexploitation thriller film, Ginger. While the film was a commercial and critical failure, Variety noted his performance positively, saying "Only Calvin Culver...shows any indication of better things to come."[9] This in turn led to an offer to appear in Casey,[11] a gay pornographic film in which Culver played the title role, a gay man who is visited by his fairy godmother Wanda (Culver playing a dual role in drag), and is granted a series of wishes which make him sexually irresistible to other men. Culver later took the character's name, Casey, and that of the popular singer Donovan to create the pseudonym under which he would appear in all his other erotic roles.[12]

Culver first appeared as Casey Donovan in Boys in the Sand, directed by Wakefield Poole, in 1971. The film was an instant success and is considered one of the great classics of male erotic cinema. With the success and celebrity he garnered from the film, Donovan believed that he would be able to cross over into mainstream film. While there were meetings with directors like John Schlesinger and Raymond St. Jacques[13] and talk of casting him in mainstream projects including adaptations of novels by Mary Renault and Patricia Nell Warren,[14] the only film opportunities opened for him were as the star of more erotic films. These included the bisexual porn film Score,[15] The Back Row with George Payne,[16] L.A. Tool & Die with Bob Blount and Richard Locke,[17] The Other Side of Aspen with Al Parker and Dick Fisk,[18] Boys in the Sand II[19] and Inevitable Love, with Jon King and Jamie Wingo.[20] He also featured in non-sexual roles in a number of heterosexual porn films, notably The Opening of Misty Beethoven.[21]

Outside his adult film career, Donovan continued to pursue stage work. In 1972 he was cast in a short-lived Broadway revival of Captain Brassbound's Conversion.[22] Star Ingrid Bergman described him as "having the same kind and as much charisma as Robert Redford."[23] He then landed a small role in the 1973 Lincoln Center production of The Merchant of Venice,[24] which was praised as having "vivid appeal."[25] Donovan had a successful national tour in the play Tubstrip, written and directed by Jerry Douglas.[26] While the play was critically deemed entertaining enough to its target gay audience[27] (having earned, in the words of one critic, a "nationwide gay housekeeping seal of approval")[28] Donovan himself was judged as simply "no better nor worse [an] actor than most of the others [in the cast]."[29] In 1983 he turned his hand to producing, with an unsuccessful Broadway revival of Terrence McNally's play The Ritz[30] in which he also appeared.[31]

Donovan's iconic status allowed him to build a lucrative career as a high-priced escort[32] although it would cost him his legitimate modeling career as more and more clients made the connection between model Culver and porn star Donovan.[33] He wrote an advice column, "Ask Casey," for the gay-oriented Stallion magazine beginning in 1982.[34]

In 1973 at the height of his popularity, Donovan met actor-turned writer Tom Tryon and the two entered into a long-term relationship the following year.[35] Tryon was deeply closeted and grew increasingly disturbed by Donovan's notoriety. Their relationship ended in 1977.[36]

In 1978, Donovan purchased a house in Key West, Florida to run as a bed and breakfast dubbed "Casa Donovan." Donovan struggled to keep the house running and ultimately it failed.[37] More successful was Donovan's time as a celebrity tour guide, conducting all-gay trips in partnership with an outfit called Star Tours to Italy, China, Peru and other destinations.[38]

By 1985, Donovan's health had begun to deteriorate, as he had contracted HIV. Although he had counseled his fans through his "Ask Casey" column as early as 1982 to reduce their number of sex partners and take steps to preserve their health[39] and urged them to be tested for HIV once the test was developed, he himself made little or no effort to change his behaviour as he assumed that he was already infected.[40] Donovan died in 1987 of an AIDS-related pulmonary infection in Inverness, Florida, aged 43.[41]

Notes

  1. ^ Grief, p. 188
  2. ^ Rutledge (1992), p. 281
  3. ^ Edmonson, p. 7
  4. ^ Edmonson, p. 28
  5. ^ Edmonson, p. 34
  6. ^ Edmonson, p. 36
  7. ^ Edmonson, p. 37
  8. ^ Edmonson, p. 39
  9. ^ a b Edmonson, p. 51
  10. ^ Edmonson, pp. 50-2
  11. ^ "Casey". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0179710/. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  12. ^ Edmonson, p. 59
  13. ^ Edmonson, p. 121
  14. ^ Edmonson, p. 122
  15. ^ "Score". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069236/. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  16. ^ "The Back Row". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0179662/. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  17. ^ "L.A. Tool & Die". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0125329/. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  18. ^ "The Other Side of Aspen". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0180030/. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  19. ^ "Boys in the Sand II". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0179689/. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  20. ^ "Inevitable Love". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0179869/. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  21. ^ "The Opening of Misty Beethoven". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075018/. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  22. ^ "Captain Brassbound's Conversion". Internet Broadway Database. http://www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=3531. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  23. ^ O'Brian, Jack (1972-11-15). "New York's Voice of Broadway". The Pocono Record. 
  24. ^ "The Merchant of Venice". Internet Broadway Database. http://www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=3177. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  25. ^ Glover, William (1973-03-06). "The critic's view". Associated Press. 
  26. ^ "Tubstrip". Internet Broadway Database. http://www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=3487. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  27. ^ Sarmento, William E. (1974-11-13). ""Tubstrip" hits the gay white way". Lowell Sun. 
  28. ^ Glover, William (1974-11-02). "Gays like what "Tubstrip" offers". Oakland Tribune. 
  29. ^ Taylor, Robert (1974-08-29). "Tub be or not tub be". Oakland Tribune. 
  30. ^ Rutledge, (1989), p. 229
  31. ^ "The Ritz". Internet Broadway Database. http://www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=4223. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  32. ^ Edmonson, p. 171
  33. ^ Edmonson, p. 124
  34. ^ Rutledge (1992), p. 189
  35. ^ Edmonson, p. 142
  36. ^ Edmonson, p. 154
  37. ^ Edmonson, p. 184
  38. ^ Edmonson, p. 198
  39. ^ Edmonson, p. 196
  40. ^ Edmonson, p. 216
  41. ^ Edmonson, p. 227

References

  • Edmonson, Roger (1998). Boy in the Sand: Casey Donovan, All-American Sex Star. New York, Alyson Books. ISBN 1555834574.
  • Grief, Martin (1982). The Gay Book of Days. New York, Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 0818403845.
  • Rutledge, Leigh (1992). The Gay Decades. New York, Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 0452268109.
  • Rutledge, Leigh (1989). The Gay Fireside Companion. New York, Alyson Publications. ISBN 1555831648.

External links

See also








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