5 Gay Stars of Classic Television Series

Multiple classic television series, from The Andy Griffith Show to Perry Mason, starred LGBTQ actors who, for the most part, kept their love lives under wraps.

We steer clear of rumors and spotlight actors whose sexual orientations have been publicly discussed by friends and loved ones (and, in two cases, we picked stars who wed longtime partners in 2013).

Raymond Burr

Raymond Burr, the Canadian-American actor best known for his decades-spanning role as Perry Mason, lived a not-so-secret life (no secret in Hollywood circles, at the very least) with his longtime partner, Robert Benevides.

Benevides, a Korean War veteran and former actor, met Burr in 1960 on the set of Perry Mason. The couple owned an orchard and a vineyard in California's Dry Creek Valley.

Burr, whose career included everything from roles in a couple of Godzilla movies to an appearance on The Love Boat, died of cancer on Sept. 12, 1993 at age 76.

Paul Lynde

Comedian Paul Lynde was a television fixture as Uncle Arthur on Bewitched and the center square on Hollywood Squares.

Beyond those roles, Lynde made a name for himself on Broadway (namely in Bye Bye Birdie), as a voice actor in cartoons and through numerous television cameos.

He also hosted a series of network TV comedy specials and regularly appeared on Donnie & Marie from 1976 to 1978.

Like most others on this list, Lynde kept his sexual orientation private all the way to his Jan. 10, 1982 passing from a heart attack.

Jim Nabors

Actor, comedian and easy listening crooner Jim Nabors wed his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader, in 2013.

Nabors met his future husband, a firefighter, in the Andy Griffith Show star's longtime home base of Honolulu, Hawaii.

As Gomer Pyle, Nabors became a beloved member of the Andy Griffith Show cast and the star of spin-off series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

Robert Reed

Robert Reed, the dad from ABC TV series turned syndication mainstay The Brady Bunch, kept his private and public lives separate all the way to his May 12, 1992 death from colon cancer.

In the years since Reed's passing, Brady Bunch cast members Barry Williams (Greg Brady) and Florence Henderson (Carol Brady) have opened up about their co-stars' double life.

"Here he was, the perfect father of this wonderful little family, a perfect husband," Henderson told ABC News in 2000. "Off camera, he was an unhappy person - I think had Bob not been forced to live this double life, I think it would have dissipated a lot of that anger and frustration. I never asked him. I never challenged him. I had a lot of compassion for him because I knew how he was suffering with keeping this secret."

"Robert didn't want to go there," Williams added in the same ABC News feature. "I don't think he talked about it with anyone. I just don't think it was open for discussion - period. [Had it ever come out that Robert Reed was gay] it probably would have caused the demise of the show. I think it would have hurt his career tremendously."

Reed (birth name John Robert Rietz Jr.) was born on Oct. 19, 1932 in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois and spent formative years in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He studied drama at Northwestern University and London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Off-Broadway roles in Shakespeare plays preceded Reed's move to Los Angeles to pursue film and television roles.

Though he's best known for filling the leading role of Mike Brady, Reed's acting chops and heartthrob looks landed him gigs on some of the top sitcoms and drama series of their time: Father Knows Best, Lawman, Mannix, Men into Space, The Mod Squad, The Love Boat, Family Affair, Ironside, Medical Center and The Defenders.

He picked up Emmy award nominations for his roles in the mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots.

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Lily Tomlin

Here's a rare Hollywood love story that's made to last: Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner have been together since the '70s.

Wagner won a Peabody Award for her 1969 CBS television special J.T. This earned the attention of Tomlin, who had been trying to find a writer to help her with her character Edith Ann on Laugh-In.

What followed can be described as love at first sight for a couple that wed back in 2013.

"A friend brought her to my hotel room," Tomlin explained to Variety, "and I tell you, in two minutes, I fell in love with her. She had on hot pants, stretchy boots that went up to her knee, and a little backpack. I don't know what it was, but I was in love."

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5 Gay Stars of Classic Television Series