Footage of a 1940s gay pool party unearthed

1940s Gay Pool Party

A US filmmaker intends turning rare footage of a 1940s-era gay pool party into a documentary.

Geoff Story, a gay filmmaker, made the incredible discovery in the 1990s at an estate sale. He believes the late ‘hairdresser to the stars’, Buddy Walton, shot the footage in St. Louis, Missouri.


The footage shows men dancing in their swimsuits, decorating for a party, and kissing by the pool.

“I just knew that it was gold, it was something special,” Story told St. Louis Public Radio.

“[But] there is a sadness when I look at these films. And I think people who maybe were of less means had a harder time.”

Buddy Walton found success as a hairdresser to celebrities in the 1940s including Eleanore Roosevelt and Ethel Merman. His niece Susie Seagraves said he “had a beautiful life.”

Queens, president’s wives, and movie stars

“Queens and president’s wives and movie stars – he was always around fancy places and fancy things.”

Story said he and co-director Beth Prusaczyk felt compelled to weave the footage into a documentary, exploring the time period where it was illegal to be gay.

“When I first watched the movie, I noticed that a number of the men have wedding rings on.

“I thought, ‘These men have to go back to their lives where they can’t be as open and can’t be who they are.'”

Story and Prusaczyk found family members of some of the men, but are still searching for any surviving attendees of the parties.

“We naively set out thinking, ‘Oh, these men might be in their mid-90s, they could still be alive,’ and that might be true,” Prusaczyk said.

“But I don’t know if we’ll actually find them.”

Story has posted a short clip several stills from the footage online. For more information about the documentary project, visit the website here.

Historic gay pool party footage


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