Charles William "Billy" Haines (January 2, 1900 – December 26, 1973), known professionally as William Haines, was an American film actor and interior designer.
Haines was discovered by a Hollywood talent scout and signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1922. His career gained momentum when he was loaned out to Columbia Pictures, now Sony where he received favorable reviews for his role in The Midnight Express. Haines returned to MGM and was cast in the 1926 film Brown of Harvard. The role solidified his screen persona as a wisecracking, arrogant leading man. By the end of the 1920s, Haines had appeared in a string of successful films and was a popular box office draw.
His film career was cut short by the 1930s due to his refusal to deny his homosexuality. Haines quit acting in 1935 and started a successful interior design business with his life partner Jimmie Shields, and was supported by friends in Hollywood. Haines died of lung cancer in December 1973 at the age of 73.
“I WOULD RATHER HAVE TASTE THAN MONEY OR LOVE”
Haines and Shields began a successful dual career as interior designers and antique dealers. Among their early clients were friends and Hollywood great's such as Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson, Carole Lombard, Marion Davies and George Cukor.
Their lives were disrupted in June 1936 when approximately 100 members of a white supremacist group dragged the two men from their El Porto, Manhattan Beach home and beat them, because a neighbor had accused the two of propositioning his son. The incident was widely reported at the time, but Manhattan Beach police never brought charges against the couple's attackers. The child molestation accusations against Haines and Shields were unfounded and the case was dismissed due to a lack of evidence.
The couple finally settled in the Hollywood-adjacent community of Brentwood, CA and their business prospered in Los Angeles until their retirement in the early 1970s, except for a brief interruption when Haines served in World War II. Their clients included Betsy Bloomingdale’s home in Holmby Hills and Ronald and Nancy Reagan when Reagan was governor of California. Maintaining a home in Palm Springs, California, Haines and Ted Graber designed the interiors of Walter and Leonore Annenberg's "Sunnylands" estate in nearby Rancho Mirage.
William Haines’ legacy lives on today with his signature collection of furniture to the trade, William Haines Designs http://www.williamhaines.com/collection.
William Haines Designs, located in Los Angeles, California is carrying on the Haines legacy by faithfully reissuing the original Haines furniture designs with great accuracy and penchant for this style known as Hollywood Glamour. Peter Schifando and J. Jonathan Joseph are extending the Haines aesthetic with painstaking accuracy and fulfilling the current demand for Hollywood Regency design. With an A-List clientele, which includes Nancy Reagan and Betsy Bloomingdale, it is only befitting that these iconic, classic designs from William Haines grace their homes.
The Elbow Chair, the Brentwood Chair, Conference Chair and Pull Up Chair are among the glamorous classics that comprise the William Haines Collection. These are authentically produced by the same California manufacturer for the last fifty years.
The current Haines Furniture Collection are re-issued Haines Originals. They are available through William Haines Designs and select dealers throughout the United States.
If you would like a touch of Old Hollywood designed into your home contact AARON B DUKE!
See Willam Haines in his feature films: