Lovers That Celebs Kept Secret Until Their Deaths

The following article contains references to homophobia, racism, and substance misuse.

"My secret love's no secret anymore." So sang Doris Day in the classic 1953 film "Calamity Jane." Forbidden love has long formed the basis of many a work of fiction. From the star-crossed lovers of Shakespeare to, well, Jim and Pam in "The Office," secret love is something that still rouses interest: why are two adults who want to be together forbidden from doing so? And as is often the case, life ends up imitating art. As such, there have been numerous celebs throughout history who have kept their relationships a secret.

Gossip sites are presently chock full of celeb makeups and breakups, with A-list couples' every move being documented by the paps, or indeed by the stars themselves on social media. Although we've grown accustomed to, say, Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker packing on the borderline NSFW PDA on the 'gram, or Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly openly drinking each other's blood, showbiz wasn't always like this. There once was a time when stars had to keep quiet about their relationships, either due to potentially bad publicity or societal taboos.

Historically, certain kinds of love have been suppressed, leading to people dating in secret and devising strategic ways of keeping their relationships out of the public eye. In other cases, stars have hidden their lovers due to engaging in extramarital affairs. Let's take a deep dive into lovers that celebs kept secret until their deaths.

Homophobia prevented Anthony Perkins from going public with his lover

Best known for his highly influential portrayal of the ostensibly sweet serial killer Norman Bates in "Psycho," Anthony Perkins led a tragic life. He was married to actor Berry Berenson, who would go on to die in 9/11, per ABC News. Perkins himself met a devastating end, dying of AIDS almost a decade earlier at the age of 60, per Entertainment Weekly. Following his death, it was revealed that he was gay, something that he was never able to divulge during his lifetime due to rampant homophobia. "This was the fifties, a public person could not go public, even if he wanted to," explained one of his former partners.

In the years following Perkins' death, fellow actor Tab Hunter revealed that the pair were lovers. As recounted in Attitude, Hunter became smitten with Perkins after meeting him at Chateau Mormant. "It was difficult; we couldn't just go out for dinner together or go see a movie because we were both getting so popular back then," he explained. 

When Paramount found out that Hunter was dating Perkins, they urged him to call it off. Defiant, Hunter continued to see his love. But when Perkins took on a movie role initially pitched by his boyfriend, the pair went their separate ways. "When he died, it was very sudden," Hunter reflected. "I heard that he was ill, I called and was told he'd just passed away. I never got the chance to see him again."

Farrah Fawcett took her secret to the grave

Farrah Fawcett was synonymous with the name Ryan O'Neal, her on-again-off-again partner of 30 years. But following Fawcett's untimely death in 2009, another man came forward to allege that he had been long term lovers with the "Charlie's Angels" star.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Greg Lott claimed that he was Fawcett's boyfriend, having first met her when they were studying at the University of Texas; they apparently reunited in 1998 and remained in a relationship until her death. "We were blind, crazy, in love," he said. "Farrah was my best friend ... We fell in love with each other all those years ago and we never really stopped loving each other." Moreover, Lott accused his love rival of conducting a showmance with Fawcett, whereas he was supposedly the true love of her life. He also alleged that O'Neal prevented him from seeing Fawcett when he arrived at her home shortly before she died. "I never got to say goodbye to Farrah," he said. "Ryan shut me out of her life." Although O'Neal disputed Lott's claims, his son, Griffin, praised Lott for giving Fawcett the love she deserved.

Subsequently, in 2013, Lott and O'Neal became embroiled in a bitter legal dispute, at the heart of which was a $30 million Andy Warhol painting of Fawcett, per ABC News. O'Neal contested his partner's trust, which left the painting to the University of Texas. Meanwhile, Lott sought to honor the trust, accusing O'Neal of wanting to keep the painting to himself.

Dirk Bogarde never discussed the love of his life

A British acting legend and handsome heartthrob, Dirk Bogarde appeared in a number of groundbreaking films that touched on themes of same sex love in the 1960s. The most notable and controversial of these was "Victim," which helped to decriminalize same sex activity in the U.K., per The Guardian. In the 1961 film, Bogarde plays Melville, a man leading a double life; married to a woman (played by the recently departed Sylvia Syms), Melville is secretly gay and is blackmailed under the threat of his sexuality being exposed.

Although he never married, the actor's life behind the scenes was not dissimilar from Melville's. His lover of just under 40 years was Anthony Forwood, a secret revealed after his death, per The Independent. Although the couple lived together, Bogarde long maintained that Forwood was his manager. When the actor John Fraser came to visit Bogarde and Forwood at their home, he asked the former why he had remained closeted well into middle age. "Everyone knows me," Bogarde replied, per The Guardian. "I can't go anywhere without being recognised. There's blackmail ... the News of the World. I would be ruined." His devastating response eerily echoed the film "Victim."

Tragically, when Forwood was dying from cancer in the late '80s, Bogarde had to hide his grief for fear of letting on the true nature of their relationship, as The Oldie notes. "The pain is starting right in now," he poignantly said following the loss. "For love it was ... is."

Heath Ledger hid his relationship with Mary-Kate Olsen

Just two months before his untimely death, Heath Ledger was linked to Australian model Gemma Ward, per the Mumbai Mirror. However, Ledger hid another lover from the public, for reasons that remain a mystery to this day. When the "Dark Knight" star died in 2008 at just 28, it was revealed that he had been lovers with Mary-Kate Olsen since 2006. "Mary-Kate and Heath were casually dating for three months before Heath's death," an insider told People. "They were hooking up, but neither were particularly interested in making it exclusive." Sources also noted that the pair shared an interest in partying. Were it not for the suspicious circumstances surrounding the Aussie actor's demise, his relationship with Olsen may very well have never been made public knowledge.

When he was found unconscious in his New York apartment, Ledger's masseuse, Diana Wolozin, decided to call Olsen, who was on speed dial, rather than 911. Olsen, who was in Los Angeles at the time, advised Wolozin that she would get some security contacts she had in New York to come to the apartment. Some time later, 911 was called, though Ledger had sadly already died.

Subsequently, suspicion arose as to Olsen's possible role in Ledger's fatal overdose, with many speculating that she had supplied him with the drugs that killed him, per The Guardian. Olsen has always denied that she was Ledger's drug dealer, though she also sought immunity before cooperating with police, fueling further conspiracy theories.

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Johnny Carson never discussed his alleged affair with Joan Rivers

The feud between Joan Rivers and Johnny Carson was much documented during the comedians' respective lifetimes. As with so many high profile comedians, Rivers got her big break on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" in 1965, per The Hollywood Reporter. But when Rivers decided to leave the show after 18 years, having secured her own late night talk show, her feud with Carson began. "The first person I called was Johnny, and he hung up on me — and never, ever spoke to me again," she revealed. "And then denied that I called him. I couldn't figure it out. I would see him in a restaurant and go over and say hello. He wouldn't talk to me." Rivers rationalized that, as a woman, Carson likely saw her as his property and took her departure from his show personally.

After Carson died, Rivers would go on to divulge the alleged true nature of the pair's relationship, which may help to shed some light on Carson's (still unjustified) animosity. According to Vanity Fair, Rivers claimed that she and Carson were once lovers, with the comedian dubbing their tryst a "one-night bounce." She also told TMZ reporters that she got the "Tonight Show" job by sleeping with the host. Although her claims have not been verified, and Rivers' pals have expressed skepticism over the alleged tryst, Vanity Fair highlights that Carson was known to be unfaithful to his wife and allegedly engaged in extramarital affairs.

Gregory Peck revealed he was lovers with this A-lister

The superhunk of the golden age of Hollywood, Gregory Peck was as talented as he was handsome. A woke bae before the term entered the cultural lexicon, he supported numerous progressive causes, most notably civil rights, per ABC News. Therefore, he certainly didn't seem the type to kiss and tell, particularly in the wake of a lover's death.

But when his "Spellbound" co-star Ingrid Bergman's died in 1982, it didn't take long for Peck to spill the tea. Subsequently, in 1987, he revealed to People that they had been lovers. "All I can say is I had a real love for her, and I think that's where I ought to stop," he said. "Except to say she was like a lovely Swedish rose. I was young. She was young. We were involved for weeks in close and intense work." Ever the gent, he did not give the deets on their dalliance when pressed on the matter.

When the pair met on the set of "Spellbound" in 1945, Peck was married to his first wife, Greta Kukkonen, whom he didn't divorce until a decade later, per The Sydney Morning Herald. As noted in the book "Gregory Peck," the actor found himself falling in love with Bergman, something which he felt he had no control over. "I don't think there's any way to avoid it, for she was incredibly beautiful, and a very sweet person," he remarked.

Paul Newman was no one woman man

Paul Newman and his wife of 50 years, Joanne Woodward, have long been touted as a Hollywood fairytale, a rare example of monogamy in an industry notorious for flings and affairs. Famously, Newman once remarked, "I have steak at home. Why should I go out for hamburger?" in reference to his devotion to Woodward, per the BBC. But for all his attempts to portray himself as a one woman man, Newman allegedly had a wandering eye.

In 2009, a year after Newman's death, Shawn Levy released his book "Paul Newman: A Life," which revealed that the actor had a secret lover – the journalist Nancy Bacon. Newman took the alleged relationship to the grave, always denying Bacon's recollections of the affair during his lifetime. However, Bacon claimed that the pair's relationship was "the worst kept secret in Hollywood." Indeed, the "Hud" star's pals would often quip, "Paul may not go out for hamburger, but he sure goes out for Bacon." Newman and Bacon first met when she interviewed him in 1968 and they swiftly began an affair, which lasted over a year. Eventually, Bacon grew tired of Newman's alcohol misuse and the pair's relationship fizzled out, with Newman returning to his wife and children.

According to the 2022 documentary "The Last Movie Stars" (via the Daily Mail), which was directed by Ethan Hawke, the revelations were devastating for Newman's children. "There's a terrible moment there where you realize your dad is fallible," the actor's daughter, Elinor, conceded.

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Gene Roddenberry was lovers with this Star Trek actor

As the creator of "Star Trek," Gene Roddenberry was a pioneer of small screen sci-fi. But as with so many powerful men in the entertainment industry, he allegedly took advantage of young women who starred in his show.

In 1994, three years after Roddenberry died, "Star Trek" star Nichelle Nichols, who played the iconic Uhura, penned her memoir, "Beyond Uhura." In it, she details her affair with the late series creator, who was married at the time, per Daily Record. But in addition to cheating on his wife with Nichols, Roddenberry was also cheating on his lover with fellow "Star Trek" star Majel Barrett, whom he would go on to marry in 1969. "He had a voracious appetite," Nichols remarked, per the Orlando Sentinel.

Accordingly, Roddenberry's problematic behavior has led to accusations that he was a misogynist who hid behind a veneer of ostensible progressiveness (notably, he cast Black and Asian actors in major roles at a time when diversity casting was unheard of). "Gene Roddenberry was a sexist, manipulative person who disregarded women," said Ande Richardson, an assistant for original "Star Trek" writer and showrunner Gene L. Coon, per National Review. "He would have women walking from Bill Theiss' fitting rooms through to his office in the skimpiest outfits so he could perv them." Although these sordid revelations about Roddenberry's private life have led to intense criticism, Nichols still looks back on the pair's relationship with affection. "The man was incredible," she later told CherryLosAngeles.

Kim Novak fell in love with Sammy Davis Jr.

Hollywood in its current incarnation may be perceived as "woke," but the industry's recent efforts to advance diversity mask its dark and racist history. Notably, mixed-race relationships were heavily discouraged by studio bosses. This was in large part due to the fact that the Hays Code included miscegenation clauses forbidding the depiction of relationships between Black and white people, per The Hollywood Reporter.

In 1957, Kim Novak fell in love with Sammy Davis Jr. after being introduced to him by Tony Curtis, per Vanity Fair. "I could see right from the beginning that they were getting along in an intense way, and that was the beginning of the relationship," Curtis revealed in 1999, nine years after Davis Jr.'s death. But the lovers were faced with intense bigotry. "It was like we were in the FBI or something," Davis' friend, Arthur Silber, told Smithsonian Magazine. "I would drop him off in front of her house in Beverly Hills and we would set up a time or a day for me to pick him up."

Subsequently, Novak was forced to deny that she was in a relationship with Davis during his lifetime, with racist studio bosses threatening to end both of their careers. "It was a very dangerous relationship then — a white woman and a black man ... My agent told me my career would be over if I continued to see Sammy," Novak later recalled, per Vanity Fair.

Alan Bates was nursed by his secret lover

Famed for his roles in critically acclaimed films such as "Women in Love" and "Whistle Down the Wind," British thespian Alan Bates enjoyed an illustrious career on both stage and screen. However, his career was cut short when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February 2003. Bates, who was bisexual, had a number of secret lovers throughout his life, including the figure skater John Curry and "Chariots of Fire" star Ian Charleson, per The Telegraph.

In the final year of his life, he was in a relationship with actor Joanna Pettet, per the Evening Standard. As with many of his lovers, Bates chose to keep the pair's relationship a secret. The romantic nature of the relationship was only made public following Bates' death, when he bequeathed Pettet £95,000 (around $117k). "It was a very touching gesture because he had done everything while he was in hospital to make sure I would be looked after following his death," Pettet said.

As Bates was dying, he was nursed by Pettet, who was distraught that the pair's rekindled romance had been blighted by illness. "It was horrible," she recalled. "We had all these plans and I could just see it crumble away. But he was so brave. We never talked about him dying." The actor's son, Ben, also praised Pettet for giving his father some much needed solace during his final days. Bates died just ten months after his diagnosis, aged 69.

Robin Gibb and the housemaid lover

The Bee Gees were famed for being a wholesome group, with their trademark falsetto harmonies and imprint on the cultural landscape with "Saturday Night Fever" becoming the soundtrack to the '70s disco era. Despite having a clean-cut rep during his lifetime, Robin Gibb harbored a secret: he had cheated on his wife, Dwina.

In 2013, a year after Gibb sadly succumbed to cancer, it was revealed that he had both a secret lover and love child, per the Daily Mail. Gibb's lover was his housekeeper, Claire Yang, to whom he had bequeathed a significant amount of money in his will, including a £800,000 house. The couple's daughter, Snow, was born in 2008. However, Gibb's son, Robin-John, expressed doubt over Snow's paternity and the veracity of the affair claims. "There is no evidence behind this housekeeper rumor that got out of hand," Robin-John wrote on Facebook (via the Daily Mail). "She never slept with my father. He didn't sleep around."

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Dwina acknowledged that her husband did have an affair with Yang. "The strength of our relationship was that we were dedicated to each other and no matter what happened in our lives, we knew we'd always be together," Dwina reflected. "No matter what happened and no matter who would try to interfere." However, she did try to ban Yang from attending her husband's funeral, apparently telling her that she was not welcome, per the Mirror.

Paul Walker was secretly dating Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell

Following his tragic death at the age of 40, Paul Walker has been revered by his legions of fans. But the star hid a secret – one that's incongruous with his canonized posthumous public image. At the time of Walker's death in 2013, his girlfriend was 23-year-old Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell, with whom he had been living. But the couple had met seven years earlier — when Walker was 33 and Pilchard-Gosnell was just 16, per In Touch Weekly

Walker kept the relationship a secret, most likely due to the potential backlash he would have faced for dating a young girl. "You have to understand that she is still terribly wounded by Paul's death and will be for a long time," her father, Casey, who is just seven years older than Walker, told the Daily Mail.

Accordingly, the secret romance has called the "Fast and Furious" star's reputation into question. For instance, the age of consent in California is 18, so Pilchard-Gosnell was legally a child when she met her famous boyfriend. Car mag Jalopnik criticized the mainstream media for glossing over Walker's apparent penchant for teenage girls (he had allegedly dated another teen, Aubrianna Atwell, when she, too, was underage). As the outlet highlights, the 2018 documentary "I Am Paul Walker" features endless heartfelt eulogies to the late star, yet there is no mention of Pilchard-Gosnell whatsoever, despite her being the actor's long term partner at the time of his death.

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Mimi Alford revealed her affair with JFK decades after his death

Although some of John F. Kennedy's alleged affairs were made public during his lifetime, the most notable being his apparent dalliance with Marilyn Monroe, he also had secret lovers. But it wasn't until 2003 that details about his alleged rendezvous with a teenage White House intern were made public, via the Kennedy biography ”An Unfinished Life," per The New York Times.

Kennedy's lover was named as Mimi Alford, who began interning at the White House when she was just 19. In 2012, she penned a book, "Once Upon a Secret," which details how she allegedly lost her virginity to the president. "I think he did take advantage — I was so young," Alford told People. "But I liked feeling special." She also divulged that the president had a darker side, apparently urging Alford to have sex with his associates and his brother, Teddy.

In an interview with Channel 4 News, Alford revealed that she never wanted the affair to be made public, but only started discussing it when falsehoods were being spun about her. "It's taken so long because I lived with a secret for 45 years and I kept it a secret," she said. "And in 2003, when I was publicly outed, shortly after that I realized that I needed to take control of the story." She highlighted that, as a teenage girl being seduced by a man in his 40s, she did not initiate the affair, nor have any control over it.

Richard Pryor was allegedly lovers with Marlon Brando

Possibly one of the most surprising romantic pairings, influential funnyman Richard Pryor and Hollywood rabble rouser Marlon Brando were allegedly lovers. Rumors of a dalliance between the two were instigated by Quincy Jones in 2018, over a decade after both men had died. In an interview with Vulture, Jones spilled the tea on Brando's alleged sexcapades, insinuating that it would be easier to list whom the Oscar-winner hadn't slept with. "He was the most charming motherf****r you ever met," Jones said. "He'd f*** anything. Anything! He'd f*** a mailbox. James Baldwin. Richard Pryor. Marvin Gaye." 

These claims were corroborated by Pryor's widow, Jennifer, who told TMZ that her husband was proudly bisexual. "It was the '70s! ... If you did enough cocaine, you'd f*** a radiator and send it flowers in the morning," she remarked. It should be noted that same sex love was still considered taboo in the 1970s, particularly with mixed-race couples, which helps to explain why Pryor and Brando kept their reported rendezvous a secret; indeed, the American Psychiatric Association regarded same sex relationships as symptomatic of mental illness up to 1973, per The New York Times.

Eyebrow-raising as the alleged affair may seem, the two men weren't all that incompatible. For instance, Brando was renowned for his support for civil rights, famously attending the March on Washington in 1963, per Variety. Meanwhile, Pryor was a staunch and outspoken critic of racism in the United States, as Jacobin notes.

Sally Ride never discussed her partner

The first ever American woman to go into space, Sally Ride secured her place in the history books after she flew on the Challenger in 1983. But Ride made history twofold that day: she was also the first LGBTQ person to fly into space. However, the importance of the latter milestone only transpired after her death.

In 2012, Ride sadly died of pancreatic cancer, with which she had been diagnosed 17 months earlier. She was 61. Few knew that she was ill, as she opted to keep her diagnosis a secret. This was not the only aspect of her life that she shielded from the public. Upon her death, it was revealed that she had been with her partner, Tam O'Shaughnessy, for 27 years, something she concealed from the public. Sweetly, Ride and O'Shaughnessy first met when they were 12, throughout the years maintaining their friendship, which eventually turned romantic. "I hope it makes it easier for kids growing up gay that they know that another one of their heroes was like them," Ride's sister, Bear, told BuzzFeed following her death.

Writing for Slate, Lynn Sherr, Ride's biographer and friend of 30 years, pondered why the acclaimed astronaut had decided to keep her partner — and indeed her sexuality — a secret. "Sally didn't want to be defined by the lesbian/gay label just as she didn't want to be defined by a gender label," O'Shaughnessy explained. "We both didn't like categories, didn't want to define ourselves by our sexuality."

Charles Lindbergh had a secret family

Aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh remains a highly controversial figure. A prominent Nazi sympathizer, he showed support for Hitler during WWII, believing in the eugenicist view of preserving so-called European blood. For a man as contentious as Lindbergh, it's hardly surprising, then, that his family life was riddled with scandal.

In a plot straight out of a soap opera, Lindbergh had not one, and not two, but three secret lovers (Brigitte Hesshaimer, her sister Marietta Hesshaimer, and the mononymous Valeska), the identities of whom he kept with him to the grave. Days before he died, he asked his lovers to never reveal the truth. Unsurprisingly given his Nazi ties, it was in post-war Germany that he embarked on trysts with the three women.

In fact, not only did he have extramarital lovers, but he fathered seven children with them. It wasn't until 2003, 29 years after the aviator's death, that his dark secret was revealed. His children with Brigitte — Dyrk, Astrid, and David — came forward with allegations that the aviator was their father. A DNA test proved that these claims are true. ”They knew all along he was their father because they spent time with him growing up. But it's good to have an iron-clad confirmation," the family's representative, Anton Schwenk, told The New York Times. With regards to the aforementioned visits, Lindbergh was able to conceal his identity from his kids by claiming he was merely a friend of their mother, known as ”Mr. Careu Kent.”

Leonard Cohen memorialized his affair with Janis Joplin

As unlikely pairings go, poetic Canadian Leonard Cohen and hard-partying rock 'n' roll star Janis Joplin seem mismatched to say the least. But the pair had a brief relationship in 1968, which Joplin never publicly discussed. 

Suffering from a creative and emotional slump, Cohen was residing at the Chelsea Hotel in New York. His sadness was assuaged when he met Joplin, who was also staying at the establishment, per Rolling Stone. "She wasn't looking for me, she was looking for Kris Kristofferson; I wasn't looking for her, I was looking for Brigitte Bardot," Cohen recounted in 1988. "But we fell into each other's arms through some process of elimination." The pair met up a few more times before Joplin's death in 1970. Years after she died, Cohen opened up about the duo's fleeting romance.

Ever the romantic, Cohen memorialized the affair in his bittersweet song "Chelsea Hotel No. 2," which features on his album "New Skin for the Old Ceremony" and contains the lyrics, "You told me again you preferred handsome men/ But for me you would make an exception." However, Cohen later admitted that he deeply regretted naming Joplin as his lover. "I've never spoken in any concrete terms of a woman with whom I've had any intimate relationships," he told the BBC (via Rolling Stone), "and I named Janis Joplin in that song ... It's an indiscretion for which I'm very sorry, and if there is some way of apologizing to the ghost, I want to apologize now."

Thomas Kinkade's death exposed a bitter dispute between his wife and lover

Artist Thomas Kinkade was famed for his pastoral paintings that garnered widespread appeal across middle America. In 2012, the 54-year-old died of an overdose of drugs and alcohol. At the time of his death, he was believed to have still been married to his wife of 30 years, Nanette. However, it was soon revealed that he actually had a secret lover, Amy Pinto-Walsh, with whom he had been living and who found the artist dead. "I am his live-in girlfriend. I've been with him 18 months. My name is Amy Pinto and him and his wife have been separated," Pinto-Walsh said in a bombshell statement following Kincade's demise.

Subsequently, Nanette and Pinto-Walsh became embroiled in a bitter dispute over the latter's alleged threats to disclose personal and business information about her late lover, the likes of which would supposedly ruin his reputation.

Moreover, Pinto-Walsh refused to move out of the artist's home and began battling with his wife over his $100 million estate, claiming that Kinkade left her millions in a barely legible handwritten will. "She's already received a substantial, substantial sum of money that arose from her relationship with Thomas Kinkade," reasoned Nanette's lawyer, Daniel Casas, per The Mercury News. But Pinto-Walsh insisted that she was the love of Kinkade's life, claiming that the couple had been planning to tie the knot in the lead-up to his death. The two women eventually settled out of court, the details of which remain private.

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Raymond Burr hid his love away

Best known for his role as the titular detective in "Ironside," Raymond Burr was an esteemed character actor. But he was acting during a period in which same sex relationships were forbidden and often criminalized. As such, the identity of his partner of 33 years, Robert Benevides, was only made public upon Burr's death in 1993.

In fact, Burr went to extremes to cover up his sexuality, inventing a fictitious dead wife and son to divert any suspicion, as revealed in his biography "Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr" (via ABC News). In interviews, he addressed his unmarried status, claiming that he was simply waiting for the right woman to come along. "It's true that I could like to be married and after this series is over, perhaps I can take time to find someone," he said in 1959. The following year, he did find that special someone: Benevides. The pair met on the set of "Perry Mason" and soon became smitten, sharing a home in Malibu.

In an interview with the Bay Area Reporter, Benevides explained why his lover hid him away from the public for so many decades. "He was very old fashioned in that the only way that he ever felt that he could be a leading man was to be unbesmirched and that he would not be accepted any other way," he said. "And it's true. In Hollywood, they are very homophobic." Following Burr's death, Benevides honored him by opening The Raymond Burr Winery, an eco-friendly vineyard in California.

Ed Koch fiercely kept his private life a secret

Former New York mayor Ed Koch refused to publicly discuss his sexuality throughout his lifetime. But this discretion would become the source of much contention among members of the LGBTQ community.

His reported secret lover was healthcare consultant Richard W. Nathan, whom he began dating in the '70s, per a New York Times investigation. When asked whether he and Nathan were lovers, Koch vociferously denied it. However, playwright and LGBTQ activist Larry Kramer discovered the pair's relationship after a chat with Nathan. Subsequently, he attempted to out Koch as he was dissatisfied with the mayor's response to the AIDS crisis (critics contend that Koch adopted an apathetic attitude towards AIDS, which killed tens of thousands of New Yorkers by 1987). This made Koch, who was terrified of the couple's relationship being made public, go on the defensive. "I couldn't understand why Koch was so upset," his colleague George Arzt said of Koch's scheduled speech at an AIDS forum in 1987. "He was scared that Larry Kramer would be in the audience and yell something out. I said, 'So what?'"

After his appearance at the forum, he had a mild stroke, apparently exacerbated by his fear of being outed, and later went on to explicitly purport that he was in fact straight, a façade he maintained until his death in 2013. Due to his apparent internalized homophobia and disastrous response to the AIDS epidemic, critics argue that Koch left behind a devastating legacy for the LGBTQ community.