William Haines (1900 – 1973) American Interior Designer

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William Haines (1900โ€“1973) was an  American film actor and interior designer.  His birthplace was Virginia. He lived and worked in Los Angeles. 

Haines began his career in the film industry during the silent era, appearing in numerous films throughout the 1920s and early 1930s. He became known for his charming and charismatic on-screen presence and was a popular leading man. However, Haines’ career came to an abrupt end in 1933 when he refused to end his relationship with his partner, Jimmie Shields, despite pressure from Hollywood executives to do so. Haines subsequently retired from acting and became a successful interior designer, opening his firm in Los Angeles. He designed homes for many high-profile clients, including Joan Crawford and Carole Lombard. Despite facing discrimination due to his sexuality throughout his life, Haines remained unapologetically himself and paved the way for future LGBTQ+ actors and designers in Hollywood. 

Early Years

Haines relocated to Hollywood after winning a photography competition in New York run by the Goldwyn movie studio. Only ten actors from the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer company had their names listed above the title in 1927. He experimented with interior design while residing in a home on North Stanley Avenue in Hollywood, where he was critical of the eclectic mix of historical styles that were fashionable in the 1920s. Before he left the film industry, he started a professional decorating business.

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He co-owned an antique store with Mitchell Foster. After leaving MGM in 1930, Haines Foster founded an interior design company on the Sunset Strip. Paul R. Williams, an architect, created the Hyams and Berg house in Beverly Hills, which featured English antiques. He decorated the Roland E. Coate-designed home of Jack and Ann Warner. He created the expanded Beverly Hills home of George Cukor in a “Regency Modern” style in collaboration with the architect J.E. Dolena. The oval sitting room with a copper cornice lighting cover, a copper fireplace, copper lampshades, and suede walls made the Cukor house stand out. Coral-coloured leather and fabric side chairs, as well as leather-laced curtainsโ€”a Haines trademark. The Cukor design was a prime example of Haines’ daring use of various textures and materials. His taste was eccentric but firmly rooted in tradition.

The Haines-Foster partnership was abandoned during World War II. He founded the brand-new interior design company William Haines Designs, Beverly Hills, after the war. Ted Graber, who designed the family rooms in the White House for President Ronald Reagan, joined the company in 1946.

The Sidney and Frances Brody House in Los Angeles, created by architect Quincy Jones, is an example of Haines’s work in the late 1940s, which is modern in style and comparable to Richard Neutra, R.M. Schindler, and Charles Eames. The Haines-Jones partnership produced six additional homes, one for Hyams and Berg. The American ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park, London, and Walter Annenberg’s 1966 desert home “Sunnylands,” “Winfield House,” and other buildings. 


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing. https://amzn.to/3ElmSlL


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