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Mister Anger



“Though a whiz on the court, Big Bill Tilden was so painfully, pathologically shy (weirded out by Mother) that he never stripped in the locker room or shower. He usually did not shower after a fast-and-furious game. His B.O. was legendary: the rank goats leaping from under Tilden’s armpits were enough to make women faint at a distance of fifty feet. If he had any best friends, they didn’t tell him.”

Kenneth Anger, Hollywood Babylon II

re: Moby Doug

Obviously Tilden was homosexual when it was: verboten! The implication of gay-dom in those days cannot be understood by contemporary commentators.

The illustration is from Highlights Magazine, June/July 1976. (The United States was 200 years old.)

This trashy tidbit is mild compared to most of the dish in the book. The things an independent filmmaker has to do to pay the rent!

According to Mr. Anger, Big Bill Tilden was a tennis champion who became a famous star of the silent screen. He then bottomed out as a criminal creep who spent time in prison. (That’s the Babylon part). Vladimir Nabokov used him as the basis for Ned Litam, the tennis teacher in Lolita (speaking of criminal creeps).

Anger points out that “Ned Litam” spelled backwards is “Ma Tilden,” Big Bill’s mother, the one who “weirded him out.”

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