Clip | James Beard: America's First Foodie - Insight into James Beard’s life as a gay man

In a time when sexuality – especially homosexuality – was not openly discussed, James Beard was comfortable, honest and open.


Major funding for James Beard: America’s First Foodie is provided by Feast it Forward. Additional funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and Art Works.

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Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Vital Projects Fund, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation and public television viewers.

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James wasn't always very vocal about it, but he knew that he was gay from a young age.

He figured it out one day at the beach.

Jim was very brave in his coming out early.

He was always a gentleman.

It was a private matter. He never flaunted it.

I'm blushing slightly now remembering.

He could invite you up to his room.

And then we'd be talking and scheming and writing menus and talking about food.

And then suddenly the bathrobe would fall open.

And there's Buddha with the family jewels hanging to the floor.

And I went, yeah, well... We were at the Four Seasons, Jim and me facing the entrance. He looks up, and he sees a friend of his who's also gay.

The friend is walking in with a woman, and Jim gets his whole seven-and-a-half feet up and says, 'If there's anything I can't stand, it's a hypocrite!'

James was in a relationship for something like 40 years, 38 years.

We used to call it the most expensive cocktail ever because he picked him up in a bar [room] and that was it!

Gino Cofacci, Jim's companion, lived upstairs.

Jim sent him to Europe to study pastry, and then Jim helped him get accounts in restaurants to make pastry. And they had a personal relationship for a while, but they led completely separate lives.

For many years, everybody accepted that he was kind of a ward, but the fact of the matter is, he was an ex.

They were no longer an intimate couple, but they were a couple.

There were would be weeks they wouldn't see each other or even speak if they were upstairs and downstairs.

And it was a cantankerous affair, I think.

And it was always a little bit of a mystery as to why he still took care of him.

How can I say this nicely?

He was almost mentally ill. He was such a perfectionist, and uh Italian temperament.

He could be lovely one minute and flying off the handle the next.

Jim somehow felt some kind of responsibility for him because in his will Gino was left life rights to his apartment upstairs plus a financial stipend.

The tragedy was, Jim had a pug dog that Gino adored and took care of, and the week after Jim's death, Gino was walking the dog, and it bolted, ran right in front of a car, and was killed.

And that was almost the end of Gino.

He could just hardly handle it.

It just seems like the dog wanted to go with to him.