September 7, 1922 – May 30, 1997
Detroit native Augustus Herman Rissman was better known to members of the local gay community as Gorgeous Gussy. Noted for “a gravelly voice and gruff manner,” Rissman entertained audiences throughout the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s at such Detroit bars as the Golden Slipper, LaRosa’s, the Diplomat, and the Gold Dollar.
Cruise, June 18, 1997
January 11, 1953 – December 26, 1995
Cappisene Ford, known to most in the gay community as Ms. L.T.D. (for La Twiggy Darling), began to entertain in the 1970s at the Escape, My Fair Lady, and other Detroit bars. She later went on to perform in Paris and Hong Kong. From 1979 to 1980 she served as Records Officer for the Michigan Organization for Human Rights. She died from AIDS-related complications at age 42.
No known obituary
September 13, 1950 – December 19, 2011
Originally from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Al Brewer sang at such gay Detroit clubs as Bookie’s, My Fair Lady, and the Other Side in the 1970s. He received multiple nominations for best live male vocalist from the Performers Awards of Detroit. Toward the end of his life, Brewer served as Karaoke host at the Temple Bar.
No known obituary
January 25, 1921 – December 26, 1997
Actor and artist, Clifford Reynolds Jr. grew up in Highland Park and attended what was then called Wayne University in Detroit. He married in 1945, moved with his wife to California in 1952, and they divorced in 1968. A radio and television performer, Reynolds was survived by companion Lorne Gay.
Bay Area Reporter, January 1, 1998
November 4, 1914 – January 18, 1991
Pianist Stennis Ousley accompanied Bramwell “ChiChi” Franklin at the Golden Slipper and other venues in the 1950s. She performed solo at various straight and gay bars into the 1980s, including the Willis Show Bar, the Tryst Club, and the Deck.
No known obituary.
January 8, 1901 – January 10, 1996
A native of Otsego, Forman Brown attended the University of Michigan in the early 1920s and, with cousin Harry Burnett and companion Roddy Brandon, formed the famed Yale Puppeteers. In his eighties, Brown revealed that he was the author of the 1933 gay novel Better Angel written under the penname Richard Meeker.
Los Angeles Times, January 12, 1996
Bay Area Reporter, January 18, 1996
Forman Brown scrapbook at the Bentley Historical Library
July 29, 1912 – March 1, 1976
For more than three decades, Danny Brown directed the Jewel Box Revue. Prior to establishing the famed touring company, Brown emceed female impersonation shows at the Club Frontenac in Detroit during the pansy craze of the 1930s.
Drag, volume 6, number 21, 1976
February 25, 1968 – February 13, 2007
Heather MacAllister was a staffer for the Triangle Foundation in the 1990s. She later moved to San Francisco where she founded Big Burlesque, the original Fat Bottom Revue. Suffering from ovarian cancer, she died by assisted suicide at age 38.
Bay Area Reporter, February 22, 2007
Between The Lines, February 22, 2007
Lesbian Connection, May/June 2007
October 13, 1917 – December 6, 1985
Chicago puppeteer Franklin Burr Tillstrom, creator of Kukla and Ollie on the television kid’s show Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, owned a summer home in Saugatuck.
New York Times, December 8, 1985
Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame
August 12, 1930 – May 17, 1995
Bramwell Franklin, better known to audiences as “Chi-Chi,” performed comedic routines at the Ten Eleven and other bars throughout Detroit from the late 1940s to the late 1970s.
Between The Lines, June 1995