His acting career ended abruptly when he refused to comply with the ultimatum of Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM, to deny his homosexuality, leave his lover Jimmie Shields and enter a sham marriage with a woman, all for the sake of the studio's image. The two remained partners for almost 50 years, till the death of Haines in 1973.
Supported by his fellow actors, his new career as an antique dealer and interior designer burgeoned. In 1939 he designed a desert-themed living room for World's Fair in San Francisco. By the 1950s he was designing furniture and decorating homes for Hollywood elite. Some of his clients were Joan Crawford, Marion Davies, Gloria Swanson, Carole Lombard, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Walter and Leonore Annenberg and Betsy Bloomingdale. Haines is quoted as once having said, "I would rather have taste than love or money."
William Haines Designs is still in operation, with main offices in West Hollywood and showrooms in New York, Denver, Colorado, and Dallas, Texas. The company is enjoying the current demand for Hollywood Regency designs, selling Hollywood Glamour furniture designed by Haines and produced by the same California manufacturer for the past fifty years.
From williamhaines.com and Class Act: William Haines Legendary Hollywood Decorator by Peter Schifando and Jean H. Mathison
|1939 World's Fair Desert Room|
|Gallery and game room for Robert and Anne Windfohr|
|Brody Residence with A. Quincy Jones|
|Entrance to original William Haines Designs|