Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Did the ‘Voices Carry' Hunk Die of AIDS 29 Years Ago?

A friend just informed me that the sexy guy who played the disapproving boyfriend in the classic 'Til Tuesday video "Voices Carry" died back in 1991 at just 33. Although every New Wave homo secretly wished they had someone who looked like him telling them how to dress and act, I'm not sure any of us knew the first thing about him. Turns out his name was Cully Holland -- born Kevin Joseph Gallery, which is actually a better stage name -- and he was born on Oct. 22 , 1957, in San Francisco. His was one of six children, five boys and one girl. His parents were named Daniel and Sally. 

According to People Pill, the handsome young man was once an all-state high-school football player who went on to study accounting at the University of Washington in Seattle. While a student, he reportedly stumbled into the world of acting and modeling -- gee, I wonder how! -- and decided to drop out of college with a year remaining and move to New York to pursue a career in show business. He started off performing on stage. In 1982, he played the main role of Denver in Matt Creeger's gay comedy/drama "Naked Highway." The play was directed by Tim Kincaid (credited under his screen name Joe Gage). He also appeared on the soap "The Edge of Night," as well as in the off-off-Broadway show "And Not the Lark" at Studio R. Next he appeared as Edmund in Agatha Christie's "A Murder Is Announced" at the AATC Theatre. 

Then in 1985, he landed what would become his most (in)famous role, as punklite rocker Aimee Mann's hot-but-controlling Yuppie boyfriend in the epic video for 'Til Tuesday's "Voices Carry," which turned him into an overnight MTV celebrity. 

At some point after the video he must have headed west. The Los Angeles Times in early 1988 reviewed a play called “Vera Baxter” at a small theater in Santa Monica that featured Holland. The production was a revival of a 1977 French play by Marguerite Duras. Holland played one of the titular character’s lovers (natch).

Later that year he starred in his first feature film, the erotic Italian drama "Dirty Love” (“Amore Sporco"), in which Jeff Stryker (billed as Chuck Peyton) had a bit part. (If that set could talk!)

Cully was last seen as Marine Vince Costello in Ulli Lommel's 1989 action film "Warbirds." (He's also credited as being in the November 1989 "Cleveland Indian" episode of the NBC television series "Hardball," but not everyone is convinced his footage didn't wind up on the cutting-room floor.)

But it's what I learned next that really intrigued me. Although it's known that Cully died on June 29, 1991, the cause has apparently never been confirmed by his family -- yet People Pill definitively lists it as AIDS.

In 2018 while reviewing Sky Ferreira's cover of "Voices Carry," James St. James of the WoW Report reminisced about knowing Cully “back in the day,” writing that "he was dating a very good friend of mine at the time -- a MALE friend, dun dun dun -- and so I knew him raaaaather well. I used to torture him with that line reading ‘Why can’t you for ONCE do something for me?'"

I reached out to James last night to see if he knew what had claimed Cully's life and this is what he told me:
I knew him pretty well -- '85 and '86 mostly --  I knew he was positive but after we lost track of each other I don’t know how he died. I’ve heard both AIDS and suicide -- often in those days they went hand in hand -- when you got to a certain point you checked out. So maybe that’s what happened... ? He certainly was handsome though ...
TV Party reports that on a Facebook fan page of sorts devoted to Cully, a couple of people who claim to have been friends with the actor at one time weigh in on him.

One of them writes:
I met Cully in Evansville, Indiana, around the time “Voices Carry” was being released. Cully was dating a man named Perry. Cully and Perry visited my home a few times and we all did attend parties together. Cully was a beautiful man and very kind friend. I moved to Cincinnati [in the] late 80's and did not keep up with Cully or Perry. Sorry to hear of his passing. A truly talented man.
I contacted the poster and he told me that Perry was a waiter in a private club in Evansville who met Cully in New York City. He said Cully would visit Indiana regularly to see his beau.

Beyond that, the Cully Holland/Facebook account doesn't say much more. (It's set up as if it's Cully himself, but I think it might do better if it were converted to a fan page.)

Sitting here researching this man's tragic death has left me wistful, reliving the days when so many young men were cut down in their primes as we battle another global pandemic. If anyone knows more about the late actor, I would love to hear from you. I don't know if there's a way to search the AIDS Memorial Instagram account. But I am curious to know if any of his old friends or family members have ever written him up.

As my tipster friend (above) said to me: Belated RIP.


Greg C said...

Very interesting. It certainly makes me sad to think his life may have been not just cut short, but swept under the rug because of stigma (and fear). I recently watched the film 5B and it is difficult to absorb the oppression and isolation many continue to experience. Thank you for posting, it was nice to learn a bit more about a face from the past.

Tod said...

like the FB poster above, i too lived in Evansville and knew Perry while there. once when i knocked on his door, Cully opened it wearing only his tighty-whities. (!!) flash forward to 1988 at the Woods Resort in Guerneville, CA, Sonoma County. i was serving in the Woods' restaurant one night and there was Cully and another man at one of my tables. he mentioned that he and Perry had broken up and that he had moved back to California to work in films. that's the last time i ever saw him, and i know Perry succumbed to AIDS back in indiana.

joepelpro said...

This was a well written and interesting .

uniformboy said...

Hi, Ken, it's Pierre from Utica NY... My now deceased dear friend Todd Anderson told me, as we were watching that video at my bar years ago, that he had had a hot liaison with him in NYC, back in the day... Stay safe !!!

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this. Jason Armstrong here. I worked with Cully on Naked Highway. He was a good guy. All the guys I knew from that show ended up succumbing to AIDS except the straight guys, there were a few of us; I
thought Cully was one, but it turned out there were fewer of us than I thought. RIP, Cully

Kyle3091 said...

So crazy I love this song till Tuesday voices carry! The actor in the video was born in 1957 and died in 1991 at the age of 33 either AIDS or suicide :( crazy in California.. crazy thing is my dad was born in California same year 1957 and also died in 1991 at the age of 33! I was born in 91

Kyle3091 said...

So crazy I love this song till Tuesday voices carry! The actor in the video was born in 1957 and died in 1991 at the age of 33 either AIDS or suicide :( crazy in California.. crazy thing is my dad was born in California same year 1957 and also died in 1991 at the age of 33! I was born in 91

Anonymous said...

I’m just a curious stranger. I was looking for maybe some kind of quick Wikipedia entry or something, but ended up finding what feels more like a touching and poignant memorial for this man and a place for people who knew him to check in and say a few words. Thank you for creating this space and sharing your research.

HollywoodFan said...

This relates to a revelation that occurred when I started watching a lot of vintage television shows over 10 years ago. There were a shocking number of bit player and minor actors who died of AIDS. I'd see some episode of whatever random 1950s-1970s, spot a sexy guy, and go google him to find out he'd died of AIDS. It really showed how the scale of the epidemic went far beyond the big names like Rock Hudson and Ryan White.

It also made the gay actor survivors of those years (1983-1998) like George Maharis all the more notable to me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken
I briefly dated Cully in 84
We met in provincetown ma
He was doing summer theater
He literally swept me off of my feet❤️
Cully was a very special man
Someone that I’ll never forget
Jimmy Curran

Anonymous said...

i had done research on cully n i was rather curious to know who he was cus i saw him in the voices carry music vid. very handsome man indeed, i’m sorry to hear he passed. may he rest in peace🙏🏾