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Saturday, April 03, 2021

Weekend Onesie: Zelda Rubinstein - AIDS Activist

Weekend Onesie: 
Zelda Rubinstein - AIDS Activist

I came across this poster this week and had to find out the whole story.

Actress Zelda Rubinstein (May 28, 1933 - January 27, 2010) is most famous for her portrayal of Tangina Barrons in the Poltergiest film series. You might also remember her for the two seasons she spent on ABC TV's macabre Pickett Fences.

What was not so well-known? She's an early AIDS activist. 

After 1982's Poltergeist made her face known the world over, she bravely offered it up to L.A. Cares, a non-profit working with the gay community to educate regarding HIV prevention while offering other services.

The campaign was shot in 1984, and by February of 1985 began to appear in gay-oriented magazines. The images were to appear on the sides of city buses, but that was put on hold when the city's transit organization objected to some of the language used. However, by June of that year those objections were overcome and the campaign went forward unaltered.

Since the campaign happened right at the height of Rubinstein's career, her association with the cause cost her jobs. In an interview with The Advocate, she admitted that she did "pay a price, career-wise."

Her reason for becoming active: "I lost a friend to AIDS, one of the first public figures that died of AIDS. I knew it was not the kind of disease that would stay in anybody's backyard. It would climb the fences, get over the fences into all of our homes. It was not limited to one group of people."

Rubinstein died in Los Angeles, CA, on January 27, 2010. She was 76.

I'm moved by her commitment to HIV prevention at a time when very few celebrities and even fewer politicians would even talk about the AIDS crisis. Keep in mind That's What Friends Are For, the song recorded by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder, long considered a turning point in the public's perception of the crisis, was not released until October of 1985. That shows how ahead of the curve Rubinstein's actions were.

And, so today, I'd like us all to remember Zelda Rubinstein, actress and early AIDS activist. 

--- ---

Warmer days are finally here.
And for those of you celebrating...
Happy Easter and Happy Passover!
- uptonking from Wonderland Burlesque 

Friends - Jody Watley
(Even though it came out in 1989, 
I think this song represents how the gay community 
was feeling circa 1983)

Friends - Bette Midler 
w/ Barry Manilow
(And Melissa Manchester)
(This is with a bunch of the former Staggering Harlettes)
(Sorry it's the Rosanne show - eek!)


Bob said...

I also loved Zelda, and didn't know this about her. Thanks, ma'am!

And thanks for Jody. Goddess, I love her.

Mistress Maddie said...

Uptonking..."go to the light...there is peace and Salvation in the light...all welcome...all go into the your minds, it knows what scares you, it has from the very beginning. Don't give it any help it already knows to much. Now........lets go get your daughter."

Jimmy said...

There were so many unsung heroes. One of the few times that being remembered is important!

anne marie in philly said...

thank you for educating me about zelda. since I don't watch tv or go to the movies much, she was unknown to me.

Anonymous said...

I want to say thank you for all the work you out into your blog. I really enjoy and appreciate your postings and have found out so much history of gay activism, musical artists and long lost porn stars. I trust it is a labor of love given all the time and energy you must put into it.

SickoRicko said...

I liked her in the Poltergeist movies. Thanks for revealing this about her.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Well, I never would have guessed. The posters are great - I particularly like the "Don't forget your rubbers" one.
Thanks for this, Upton.

Anonymous said...

She also had a small but comedic roll in "Sixteen Candles."

Xersex said...

also her life here was so interesnting!