Will Geer - Personal Life

Personal Life

Geer was born in Frankfort, Indiana, the son of Katherine, a teacher, and A. Roy Ghere, a postal worker. He was deeply influenced by his grandfather, who taught him the botanical names of the plants in his native state. Geer started out to become a botanist, studying the subject and obtaining a master's degree at the University of Chicago. While at Chicago he also became a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.

He began his acting career touring in tent shows and on river boats. He worked on several left-oriented documentaries, including narrating Sheldon Dick's Men and Dust, about silicosis among miners.

Geer was also the lover of gay activist Harry Hay. In 1934, Hay met Geer at the Tony Pastor Theatre, where Geer worked as an actor. They became lovers, and Hay credited Geer as his political mentor. Hay and Geer participated in a milk strike in Los Angeles, where Hay was first exposed to radical gay activism in the person of "Clarabelle," a drag queen who held court in the Bunker Hill neighborhood, who hid Hay from police. Later that year, Hay and Geer performed in support of the San Francisco General Strike.

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