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Arts & Culture > Poetry & Prose > Great Gay Author: Fannie Flagg

Great Gay Author: Fannie Flagg

This is
the tenth in a series highlighting the best gay and lesbian authors
from the 20th century (with a few before and after that period)
who have recorded in fiction, and nonfiction, the history of gay people
telling what life is, and was, during an important time of history.


Ironically Fannie Flagg was born Patricia Neal ,the same name as the actress who died earlier this week.

If all that Fannie Flagg had done was write "Fried Green Tomatoes At
The Whistle Stop Cafe" that would have been accomplishment enough but
she did more as her credits below shows. Unfortunately, though it is an
excellent picture, the screenplay she wrote for Fried Green Tomatoes
downplayed the lesbian angle making it almost non-existent, in spite of her being an out lesbian.

Patricia Neal (born September 21, 1944), known professionally as
Fannie Flagg, is an American actress, comedienne and author.

Early life

Flagg, born in Birmingham, Alabama, is the daughter of
Marion Leona (née LeGore) and William Hurbert Neal,
Jr., who was a small-business owner and projectionist.

As her acting career began, Flagg could not professionally use her birthname,
as there was already a well-known Oscar-winning actress named
Patricia Neal.

[ Writing career

Flagg's career began in the 1960s when she was hired as a staff writer for Allen Funt's Candid Camera, and she
later became Funt's co-host on the syndicated 1970s weekly version of the show.
After a lull in her writing career, she returned her focus to writing in the
1980s. Among her novels are
Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man (originally titled Coming Attractions), Welcome to the World, Baby
(1998) and perhaps her best known book, Fried Green Tomatoes
at the Whistle Stop Cafe
. She subsequently wrote the screenplay based on
that book which became the film Fried Green Tomatoes. The 1991
movie garnered her a nomination for an Academy Award.
Fried Green Tomatoes starred Jessica Tandy, Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary Louise Parker, and Cicely Tyson.

She has also written "Coming Attractions" (1983) (Later re-released in 1992
as "Daisy Fay And The Miracle Man"), "Welcome To The World, Baby Girl!" (1998),
Standing in the Rainbow (2002), A Redbird Christmas, (2004), and
Can't Wait to Get to Heaven (2006). Her next book is scheduled for
release November 2010.

Acting career

During the 1970s, Flagg was a fixture on game show panels. She is best known for her
appearances on the game show Match Game (normally occupying the lower
right-hand seat next to regular panelist Richard Dawson). Her acting credits include the
Broadway production of The Best Little Whorehouse in
, the films Some of My Best Friends
, Five Easy Pieces, Stay Hungry,
Grease and
Crazy in Alabama, as well as minor roles in various television shows. She
is perhaps best known as a regular on The New Dick Van Dyke Show,
where she played Mike Preston, sister to Van Dyke's character, Dick Preston, for
2 seasons.

During the 1960s and '70s, Flagg recorded two comedy albums with various
skits that included many parodies of
Lady Bird Johnson and Martha Mitchell. Also
during the 1960s Fannie Flagg hosted a morning show on
WBRC-TV in Birmingham, and occasionally reported the
weather in the 1970s on the same station.

Personal life

Flagg has spoken publicly about being dyslexic. Flagg has said she was enormously challenged
as a writer because she "was severely dyslexic and couldn't spell, still can't
spell. So I was discouraged from writing and embarrassed".
Her burgeoning
writing career was put on hold for much of the 1970s, but Flagg overcame her
fear and completed several novels and screenplays.

Flagg is openly lesbian and was at one time the partner of author Rita Mae Brown, who outed her. Despite her
openness regarding her personal life, Flagg removed a substantial portion of the
lesbian content in the book
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe in order to make the film Fried Green Tomatoes more commercially

At one time Flagg was linked in the press (and was in some reports said to be
married) to actor
. The two appeared as a couple on the 1970s game show
Tattletales, which featured celebrities and their spouses, though at no
time were they presented as a true couple. Host Bert Convy would introduce them as "Dick Sargent and
his lady, Fannie Flagg." Sargent was himself
gay and eventually came out before his death in 1994.

Flagg divides her time between homes in California and Alabama.

posted on Aug 10, 2010 6:52 PM ()


Hell of a time for him to come out.I forgotten about Dick.thank you for the info on Fannie
comment by fredo on Aug 11, 2010 10:17 AM ()

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