On This Gay Day: Musician Dan Hartman was born in 1950

Songwriter Dan Hartman’s music career spanned several decades

Dan Hartman was born on this day in 1950. His music career spawned some big hits between the 1970s and early 1990s and his sounds like on dancer floors across the world.

Born in Pennsylvania, Hartman’s music career took off when he joined the Edgar Winter Group as their bass player, he wrote on of their biggest hits Free Ride.

HIs solo career took off in the 1970’s when he created a series of disco era hits including Instant Replay and Relight My Fire. He had further success in the mid-80’s with the track I Can Dream About You. 

During his career he also collaborated with lots of artists writing songs, producing their records or adding his vocals. Over the years he teamed up with Nona Hendryx, Steve Winwood, Tina Turner, Holly Johnson, Time Bandits, Bonnie Tyler, Dusty Springfield, Chaka Khan, Janis Ian and Tom Robinson.

He also worked with James Brown, and in 1985 wrote his hit Living in America which was included on the soundtrack to the film Rocky V. 

Hartman was diagnosed with HIV in the late 1980’s and reportedly did not seek treatment. He died of a brain tumor on 22nd March 1994. He had kept his sexuality private throughout his life, but friends have acknowledged that he was a gay man since his passing.

HIs final album prior to his passing was an instrumental new-age record called New Green Clear Blue. 

Since his death his work has been covered by many artists, and he’s often been sampled by dance artists. Blackbox’s hit Ride on Time is based around vocal samples from Loleatta Holloway’s 1980’s disco hit Love Sensation, which was written and produced by Hartman. The same sampled is used in Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s Good Vibrations.  

The film adaption of Six Degrees of Separation made its debut in 1993

The film adaptation of Six Degrees of Separation made its debut on this day in 1993.

The John Guare play had been a huge success on Broadway. It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1990. Australian director Fred Schepisi saw the production on Broadway many times, and he decided to develop it as a film.

It tells the story of art dealers Louisa, known as Ouisa, and husband Fran. One night as they are wooing an investor in their Central Park apartment, a young black man arrives at their door. He introduces himself as Paul Poitier, the son of actor Sidney Poitier, and explains that he is a friend of their children, he knows them from Harvard.

He’s just been mugged in the park and is suffering from a small stab wound. He shares that he is meeting his father the next day, and his father is planning to make a film version of the musical Cats. Fran and Ouisa insist he stays overnight with them.

In the morning they awake to discover that while they were asleep Paul has brough a male sex worker into their home. Paul and his companion flee, leaving the couple flummoxed about what had happened. Later they discover their children have no idea who the young man was, and a little research shows that Sidney Poitier does not have any sons, only daughters.

It kicks off a series of anecdotes and adventures as the couple try to work out who Paul was, and how we are all connected. The play is based on the real-life exploits of con artist David Hampton.

Stockard Channing, best known for playing Rizzo in Grease and later Abigail Bartlett on TV’s The West Wing, played Ouisa in both the Broadway and West End Productions. She also starred in the film version.

Donald Sutherland plays her husband Fran, while Sir Ian McKellen plays investor Geoffrey Miller. Mary Beth Hurt, Heather Graham, Richard Masur, Anthony Michael Hall, Bruce Davison, and Anthony Rapp also appear.

On stage the role of Paul had been played by James McDaniel, Courtney B Vance, and Adrian Lester. When it came time to make the film version Will Smith took on the role.

At the time Smith was only known for his music career alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff, and his television sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It was Smith’s first big film role, and his first dramatic role. He was praised for playing a gay character at a time when many actors avoided playing gay roles.

Stockard Channing was nominated for Best Actress and the Academy Award and the Golden Globes for her performance in the film. She lost to Holly Hunter in The Piano at the Oscars, and Angela Bassett for her portrayal of Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do with It at the globes.

OIP Staff, images: promotional images. 

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