Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →
Born in London, Schlesinger was pointed toward the arts by his parents, who were musicians in their spare time and gave him his first camera at age ten. After serving in the British Royal Engineers in World War II and attending Oxford, he acted in film and television before shifting to directing in the 1960s. Schlesinger was part of a wave of British directors whose films explored contemporary life in a gritty, realistic way. He worked with some of Britain’s best known actors of those years, such as Alan Bates, Julie Christie, Glenda Jackson, and Peter Finch. His Hollywood debut, Midnight Cowboy (1969), was a major success, winning an Oscar for him as best director and for best film of the year. His most controversial film was Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971), about a bisexual man torn between the love of a man and a woman. Its on-screen romantic kiss between two men presented homosexuality as natural, and critics praised the film. Schlesinger died in 2003 from complications from a stroke, and was survived by his partner of over 30 years, Michael Childers.