One of the most brutal gay murders in Hollywood and Broadway history was that 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 The Mug, 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 ovwe 100 times, and bled to death. Lockin’s 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. Hopkin’s was released in just over two years. Many believe that due to the “homosexual nature” of the case and societal prejudice at the time, justice was not served. After being released from prison, Hopkins married. It has been reported that Hopkins “died an unusually slow and painful death from cancer.”
Danny Lockin was buried in Westminster Memorial Park cemetery in Orange County. His grave is in Block 29, Section 219, Grave 4 with a simple stone that calls him “Beloved Son”.