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Recalling the happier times and tragic death of Danny Lockin, from 'Hello, Dolly!'
Last Edit: WaymanWong 04:33 pm EDT 07/13/17
Posted by: WaymanWong 04:27 pm EDT 07/13/17

Danny Lockin is best-known for playing Barnaby in the 1969 Oscar-winning movie of ''Hello, Dolly!,'' starring Barbra Streisand.

And as it happens, Lockin was born in Hawaii 74 years ago today: July 13, 1943.

Given all the current interest in this Jerry Herman classic musical, it seemed a good time to remember this wonderful and winning performer.

Lockin had toured in ''Hello, Dolly!'' before he made the film, and his Dollys included Betty Grable, Ginger Rogers and Eve Arden. Gene Kelly, who directed the movie, cast Lockin (then 26) as Barnaby after Lockin was tested 13 times. (And you can find a screen test of Lockin on YouTube, as Kelly gives him direction.) Often asked about what it was like to work with Streisand, he would say: ''I have more respect for her than anyone I've ever worked with.'' (By the way, ''Hello, Dolly!'' wasn't his screen debut; he was an uncredited Yonkers farm boy in the 1962 movie of ''Gypsy.'') After the filming ended, Lockin went to Broadway to play Barnaby, opposite Ethel Merman. In comparing Dollys, Lockin said that Streisand and Carol Channing created a character who was part of the cast. Unlike Merman: ''She wasn’t Dolly up there, she was Ethel Merman in Dolly clothes.''

Sadly, Lockin's life came to a brutal end in 1977. He was seen leaving a gay bar with a regular named Charles Leslie Hopkins. Later that night, police arrived at Hopkins' apartment, prompted by a neighbor who reported a disturbance, and they found Lockin's body had been stabbed over 100 times. Hopkins claimed he had no idea how that happened. Nearby was a torture diary of pornographic images and Polaroids of Lockin. The diary revealed that Hopkins knew Lockin and planned to kill him. However, because the police had not gotten a warrant before removing this evidence, neither the diary nor the photos could be used in court. A judge found Hopkins guilty of ''involuntary manslaughter,'' and he got only a 4-year sentence.

Lockin died at age 34, but there is much more to his life than ''Hello, Dolly!'' and his homicide.

There's a loving website devoted to him: dannylockin.com. There, I also found out that as a kid, Lockin and another boy, Neal Reynolds, did a comedy-and-dance act for 9 years as ''The Two Checkers.'' Because Neal was black, they ran into a lot of prejudice, due to the segregation policies of the time. It turned Lockin into an advocate of racial equality at an early age. ... Lockin once met and married a dancer, Cathy Haas, and in 1969, they had a son. Alas, their marriage didn't last, which devastated Lockin and led him to drink and question his sexuality. ... Finally, one of his last TV appearances was on ''Dean Martin Presents the Gold Diggers,'' and he reunited with his ''Hello, Dolly!'' co-star Tommy Tune for a dance routine.

How sad that Lockin left us much too early, but at least his legacy lives on, thanks to ''Hello, Dolly!''
Link Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict: Danny Lockin
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