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Gay History – The Brutal Torture Murder of Hello Dolly’s “Barnaby” Danny Lockin

Everyone knows what happened to Sal Mineo. But what about Danny Lockin?

 

One of the most brutal gay murders in Hollywood and Broadway history was of the talented Danny Lockin who played the role of “Barnaby” in both the Broadway and movie version of “Hello Dolly” at the age of 34.

In 1965 Danny Lockin replaced Jerry Dodge in the role of Barnaby Tucker in Hello, Dolly! and went across the United States on six traveling productions.  Several actresses playing Dolly Levi he performed with included: Betty Grable, Ginger Rogers, Eve Arden, Dorothy Lamour and Anne Russell. He remained in the role for the movie version of Hello, Dolly! after enduring an audition and  13 callbacks before finally getting the role.  When filming for movie ended, Lockin continued the role on Broadway again where he worked with both Ethel Merman and Phyllis Diller until it closed on Dec. 27, 1970. One of the actresses that Locin mixed feelings about was Carol Channing as Dolly, about whom he once said: “Carol Channing is rather disconcerting. You’ll notice her looking at you with those big baby-stare eyes. Then eventually it dawns on you that the person behind those eyes is, in show business terms, about 200 years old.” He also later expressed unhappiness with the way audiences reacted to Merman in the role of Dolly Levi, and how this changed the show. “She wasn’t Dolly up there, she was Ethel Merman in Dolly clothes. … The audiences came, of course; they came to see the Ethel Merman version. But it wasn’t Hello, Dolly! any more, it was her show. … Channing or Streisand, they were part of a cast, trying to act out a character. But with Ethel Merman—and not just her fault, with the audience, she was such an institution—the rest of us felt like just her chorus boys or her chorus line.

On the night of August 21, 1977  Danny Lockin went to a gay bar in Garden Grove, California. He left the bar with a slight, 34-year-old unemployed medical clerk, Charles Leslie Hopkins (who already had a police record and was on probation at the time). Several hours later, Hopkins called police to say that a man had entered his apartment and tried to rob him. Upon arrival, police found Lockin’s body on the floor of Hopkin’s apartment. He had been stabbed 100 times, and bled to death. Lockins  body had also been mutilated after death. Hopkins claimed he had no idea how the dead body got in his apartment.  Hopkins was arrested immediately.

Police found a book of pornographic pictures in Hopkins’ apartment which showed men being tortured during sexual orgies. Prosecutors initially intended to seek a first degree murder conviction, and to use the book to prove that Hopkins had planned the murder. Hopkins’ trial began in May 1978, but endured a two-month delay. During the delay, the Supreme Court of the United States held in United States v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1 (1977), that police may not engage in warrantless searches of an individual’s property in the absence of an exigency. On July 31, the trial court ruled the pornographic book inadmissible as evidence. On August 8, the trial court judge held that the death penalty could not be applied to Hopkins due to lack of evidence of premeditation.

On September 28, 1978, Hopkins was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to a three-year prison term. Since the court was permitted to consider suppressed evidence if the evidence was not seized merely to obtain a lengthier prison sentence and it did not “shock the conscience of the court,” the trial judge increased Hopkins’ sentence from the usual three years to four years.

 

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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13 thoughts on “Gay History – The Brutal Torture Murder of Hello Dolly’s “Barnaby” Danny Lockin”

    1. There are many lessons to be learned from this horrific article. This story is of great important interest to the gay community, film and Broadway buffs and humanity in general.

      There is a saying that those who do not learn from an remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Where we have been, where we are going and who we are are all very important.
      Peace.

  1. Lockin was survived by an ex-wife and son.

    btw Ramon Navarro is up there in sensationalism, bludgeoned with a bedazzled likeness of his best friend’s member.

  2. I think that we all relate to people we see on the screen. We don’t know them…but we DO know them, in a way, and can relate to them. It’s of great interest for me to know what happens to them, and I think it’s more than just curiosity. I do think that, today, we can be more open about relationships, less apt to go into a marriage that can be forced on us by society, and therefore, a little less placed in a position where one has to go to a bar to find a hookup. Too bad he found himself in that position…and this bird should still be rotting away in prison for this atrosity

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