On This Gay Day: Remembering Merritt Butrick

Star Trek actor Merritt Butrick died on this day in 1989

If you’re a fan of Star Trek, you’ll probably recognise blonde and curly haired actor Merritt Butrick. He played David Marcus, the son of Captain James Kirk, in the films Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and it’s sequel Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

Butrick also appeared in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, playing a different character. He played T’Jon, the captain of a cargo vessel rescued by the crew of the Enterprise in the episode Symbiosis which was part of the show’s first season in 1988.

Merritt Butrick appeared in many films and TV shows in the 1980’s including appearances in Hill Street BluesCHiPS, Fame, Beauty and the Beast and Jake and the Fatman. As well as many movies that were permanent features in video stores of the period. His best known role was in the Scott Baio comedy Zapped! but he also appeared in Fright Night Part II and the drama Shy People. 

From 1982 to 1983 he appeared in the short-lived sitcom Square Pegs which starred Sarah Jessica Parker and May Linker.

His last acting role was in the play Kingfish which was performed at the Los Angeles Center, where he played a petulant muscle-boy sex worker. Butrick received praise from TIME magainze for his performance.

The actor, who was bisexual, passed away in 1989 from toxoplasmosis, as a result of AIDS. He was just 29 years old when he died.

Singer Jermaine Stewart died on this day in 1997

American singer Jermaine Stewart got his first break in the entertainment industry when he became a dancer on the TV show Soul Train. There he made friends with Jody Whatley and Jeffrey Daniel.

The trio auditioned to become part of a new group that was being put together, Whatley and Daniel will picked to be part of Shalamar, but Stewart lost out to Gary Mumford who was picked to be the band’s lead vocalist. Stewart was hired to be one of the backing dancers for the trio.    

After meeting Mickey Craig from Culture Club, Stewart sang backing vocals on their1984 hit Miss Me Blindwhich lead to him getting his own recording contract.

He scored a worldwide hit when We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off came out in 1986. The song was a reflection of the times when people were being urged to abstain from sexual contact because of the rise of HIV/AIDS.

The song was written by Preston Glass and Narada Michael Walden, and the video was directed by David Fincher.

Fincher would go to direct landmark videos for Madonna and Paula Abdul before becoming a high successful film director with hits including Seven, The Game, Fight Club, The Social Network and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Stewart died of AIDS related live cancer in 1997. He was 39 years old. We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off remained his biggest hit.

Dancer Rudolph Nureyev was born on this day in 1938

Rudolf Nureyev was a giant in the world of dance and few performers have commanded the level of attention he received.

Born in Siberia on this day in 1938, he studied at the famous Kirov Ballet in Moscow and by the 1950’s was a national sensation in Russia.

In 1961 during a tour to Paris he escaped from his minders and asked for asylum in the west. It was the first defection of a soviet artist at the height of the cold war, and it caused an international sensation.

The dancer went on to tour the world, appearing in hundreds of productions and gaining international acclaim as the world’s greatest dancer. He also became a celebrated choreographer.

Nureyev’s career took him around the world, he dance for many years at London’s Royal Ballet. Here he found one of his most famous partners Dame Margot Fonteyn. Another of his partners was ballerina Lucette Aldous.

In the 1970’s he came to Australia to perform in the film version of Don Quixote opposite Aldous who had joined the Australian ballet. Aldous went on to become the a ballet lecturer at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts and still lives in Perth.

In the late 1980’s Nureyev became the director of the Paris Opera Ballet. He was famous for having a many lovers and a volatile 25 year relationship with Danish dancer Erik Bruhn. At the same time he also had an open relationship with American Robert Treacy, who he met in the 1970s. Bruhn died in 1986, his death was attributed to lung cancer but friends have speculated his death was due to HIV.      

Nureyev’s final work was to stage a lavish production of La Bayadere, a ballet he had first performed at the start of his career. He was presented with France’s highest cultural honour on the opening night of the production. Just a few months later he died of an AIDS related illness in 1993 aged just 54. Nureyev spent the final months of his life in a Paris hospital.

The original film version of ‘The Boys in the Band’ premiered in 1970

William Friedkin’s adaptation of Mart Crowley’s play The Boys in the Band had it’s premiere in New York, on this this day in 1970. A second version of the film was created in 2020.

The film is considered a milestone in queer cinema. The ensemble cast, all of whom also played the roles in the play’s initial stage run in New York City, includes Kenneth Nelson, Peter White, Leonard Frey, Cliff Gorman, Frederick Combs, Laurence Luckinbill, Keith Prentice, Robert La Tourneaux, and Reuben Greene.

The apartment the action takes place in was based on the home of actress Tammy Grimes, who was a close friend of author Mart Cowley. The patio scenes are filmed at Grimes actual apartment, while the interiors shots were filmed on a set based on the apartment.

OIP Staff

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