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The Untold Story Of How Lily Tomlin Helped Vito Russo Before He Passed Away From AIDS

There are many stories from the horrific AIDS Plague years that goes untold. Some are bad, some are good. But all should be remembered.

To mark Lily Tomlin’s 80th. birthday this weekend. Vito Russo’s brother, Charlie, posted a story about Lily and his brother in the the last months of Vito’s life before he passed away of AIDS on November 7, 1990 to his Facebook page.

Today is Lily Tomlin’s 80th Birthday and this story needs to be told.

Two months before we lost my brother Vito, he asked me to go with him to Fire Island with his best friend Arnie He wanted to visit a special place in his heart one last time.

We spent a few days visiting ‘old spots’ and listening to two friends reminisce about the good old days on the island. Vito walked the entire island and was given a superstar welcome when recognized. (Although in a very weakened state).

Upon our return home he wanted to stop at Balducci’s for some food for home. When we arrived at his apartment I asked him if he needed any money. He reached down into his jeans and took out a crumbled up check. It was $3,000 from Lily Tomlin.

He said, ‘she has been sending me money since I got sick’. She did it quietly never saying a word about her kindness to her friend. I just thought that people should know this about her as she celebrates her 80th.”

As horrible as the plague years were it did do onbe thing. It brought the community, and friends together because we knew that we could not depend on anyone else outside of it.

Lily  Tomlin has made us laugh for 50 years, and today she made me cry over her caring and generosity.

I didn’t think I could love her anymore.

I was wrong


Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the 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 on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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3 thoughts on “The Untold Story Of How Lily Tomlin Helped Vito Russo Before He Passed Away From AIDS”

  1. Are you just trying to make us all cry? lol I have always known she helped many with AIDS/HIV, but not personally. Just that she helped in many other ways. Thanks for sharing this. Happy Birthday, Lily Tomlin, one of my Favorite People In The World!!!

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