Inside ‘Dark Shadows’ Star Louis Edmonds’ Life as a Closeted Gay Man before Publicly Coming Out

Olawale
Dec 22, 2021
08:20 P.M.
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Louis Edmonds was a spectacular star with blonde hair and the cuteness of a Hollywood bad boy. He starred in several well-known films, like "The Dark Shadow," but he chose to shield his sexuality in reality.

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Louis Edmonds was a prolific actor who starred in "The Dark Shadows" and "All My Children." He was famous for his wits and talent, but he hid his homosexuality for many years while dating men behind closed doors.

Edmonds died in 2001 at age 77 from a respiratory illness, and although he did not have a partner or child, he was survived by two siblings. Also, before his exit, he left a wealth of information still relevant to today's entertainers. 

Picture of actor Louis Edmonds on "Dark Shadows" | Photo: Getty Images

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LOUIS EDMONDS'S EARLY LIFE & ACTING

Louis Edmonds had always realized that he wanted to be an actor. During his teenage years, he shared the thought with his mother, who knew nothing about the craft. Although he got into LSU, he had unimpressive grades and soon decided to quit school and pursue entertainment.

Eventually, he worked as a messenger for the US Army and raised funds to secure a place in a Biloxi theater, a company that failed. In 1941, following the advice from an upcoming actress he met at the theater, he enrolled in the prestigious Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, PA. 

The aspiring thespian majored in drama and found himself in the company of many future stars, including Nancy Marchand, Carl Betz, and Jack Klugman.

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Portrait of actor Louis Edmonds taken on October 28, 1970 | Photo: Getty Images

During his time as a student, he piqued the interest of many teachers. His demeanor and acting skills gave him away, and they pegged him as a classical actor who was an incredible character for William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw's plays.

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His tutors made him learn and act in traditional roles instead of the direction his friends became used to. The contemporary parts earned fame faster than the former, and the actors in this line enjoyed more commercial successes.

It did not mean that Edmonds resented his calling. He stuck to the roles and made friends with his drama colleagues. He became thrilled with the level of acceptance and later became hooked to other homosexuals in his field.

Joan Bennett and Louis Edmonds in an episode of TV series "Dark Shadows" relaxing on set in 1967 | Photo: Getty Images

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HOW EDMONDS GOT THE ROLE ON "THE DARK SHADOWS"

He was always ready to show off the star he had learned as a classic actor, and while that earned him admiration, he continued to seek ways to perfect his craft, which made him even better.

Edmonds also told an interviewer that he liked to tease. For him, it was a way of showing someone you like them, and he only did that with people he considered interesting and worthy of his time.

Picture of actor Louis Edmonds during an episode of TV show "Dark Shadows" which aired on October 28, 1970 | Photo: Getty Images

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EDMONDS'S FIRST EMOTIONAL RELATIONSHIP 

While Edmonds started to explore his sexuality almost as soon as he entered Carnegie Tech., the drama student was also obsessed with visiting New York City to watch Broadway stars.

On one occasion, he met Richard Cornelius, and it was love at first sight for the classic star. He recalled that the feeling was sensational, and it was a passion beyond control.

Luckily, Cornelius, an Army officer, felt enchanted by the student. They enjoyed a low-key emotional relationship maintained by sharing love letters and scheduled dates from leaves, weekends, and visits.

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Picture of actor Louis Edmonds during an episode of TV show "Dark Shadows" which aired on June 12, 1966 | Photo: Getty Images

Back at home, Edmonds joined the Navy, and he had to keep his romance under wraps because of the uniform he wore. According to him, one could only succeed as a homosexual if he served as a medic; else, the officer might risk leaving the force.

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While the officers' love grew intense, the distance opposed it, and eventually, Cornelius confessed that he had fallen for someone else. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but Edmonds tried to get back on track.

The naval officer got transferred to a different city, where he exhibited his acting skills. Shortly after service ended, in 1946, the Carnegie Tech alum bagged a small role and later returned to finish his degree.

Actor Louis Edmonds giving rubdown to co-star Dorothy Lyman on set of TV series "All My Children" before a rehearsal, circa 1982 | Photo: Getty Images

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Edmonds's second time as a student of the institution made him more alert to acting. He observes that men from the war were enrolling in the school, unlike when high school students came in.

At the time, he also met Sada Thompson, a young beauty who focused on drama. They became romantically involved, but their relationship did not last. After a breakup, the pair maintained a friendship.

It was how he also maintained a cordial relationship with his ex-lover, Cornelius. However, they lost touch, only to be reunited years later, shortly before the former army officer passed away.

Picture of actor Louis Edmomds and actress Dorothy Lyman on the set of TV series "All My Children", circa 1982 | Photo: Getty Images

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COURTING WITH TOM COWMAN

After the relationship with Thompson, the actor pressed the brakes on falling in love. He concentrated on his career and did not miss the chance to socialize. In 1954, he met Tom Cowman, a dashingly handsome and tall man.

Edmonds bagged a role in the comedy "The Way of the World," and the two became very close after meeting with Cowman. While recounting their relationship, the actor established that Cowman courted him like a leading lady with flowers and gifts on his front door.

Picture of actor Louis Edmonds during an episode of TV show "Dark Shadows" which aired on June 12, 1966 | Photo: Getty Images

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Cowman always visited his lover, and a few months later, they wasted no time moving into a small apartment in Manhattan, where they teamed up with other socialites and business tycoons for social gatherings.

They soon caught the attention of a painter named Ben Morris, who loved small social gatherings. Morris was excited about their friendship. He described Cowman, whom he knew first, as a big, funny guy and his partners as a blonde, commanding actor with insignificant roles.

Actress Grayson Hall and actor Louis Edmonds in a scene from an episode of TV series "Dark Shadows" in 1967 | Photo: Getty Images

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Edmonds was also proud to show off his partner. By 1959 when he visited his sick stepmother who had cancer, Cowman accompanied him to his native home. The visitor became acquainted with his family by showing off some cooking skills, which also endeared his hosts.

Sadly, this seemingly sweet couple did not last. Things ended due to their financial struggles. The actor earned more money, but his lover struggled to accept his advertising job. They disagreed following Cowman's lack of discipline to manage funds.

In the end, Cowman left Edmonds to settle with a lover with more money. He also made good use of his cooking skills by opening a restaurant. However, the former lovers maintained their friendship. 

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Picture of actor Louis Edmonds during an episode of TV show "Dark Shadows" which aired on June 12, 1966 | Photo: Getty Images

WHEN EDMONDS'S FAMILY REALIZED HIS SEXUALITY

It was tough for Edmonds's brother, Raymie, to accept that he would never get married, especially since the entertainer claimed he was married to his profession.

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But Alma, his sister, accepted the "Dark Shadows" actor. At first, she thought Cowman was a friend like every other friend he had brought home, and she boasted of his culinary skill, but after noticing the synergy between the men, she did not contest his position.

Portrait of actor Louis Edmonds taken on October 28, 1970 | Photo: Getty Images

His family might have been divided on their thoughts about his sexuality, but they loved him. Before his death in 2001, at the John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, Edmonds left instructions for his family.

He asked his younger brother, Raymie, to take the box out of the church after the funeral service at Caroline Churchyard in Suffolk County.

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