Over the years, various authors have intimated things about Edsel Ford, but have never been able to prove them. That he was an alcoholic, for example, or that he was a homosexual. As an historian, I too had wondered about these things, and was always on the lookout for ways to prove anything about this most elusive Ford.
I once asked Frank Hershey, the marvelous automobile designer, who worked for most of the large automobile companies—including Ford—throughout the thirties, forties, and fifties, and was a homosexual himself, if he thought Edsel Ford was gay.
“I don’t know,” he said, “but he could have been. He liked art…, he dressed sharp, and he wore fine jewelry. I like those things, too. (Wink, wink.) Back in those days, you kept it a secret if you were gay. I did, and I’m as gay as they come. Maybe Edsel did, too.”
After I got to know Bob Gregorie well, I was dying to ask him what skeletons were in Edsel Ford’s closet. After all, if anybody knew the answer to that question, it would be Gregorie. He had worked closely with Edsel for fifteen years, meeting with him practically every day in the design studio.
They were both yachtsmen, loved design, and spoke the same language. Gregorie was one of the few—very few—men at Ford Motor Company that Edsel could confide in. (The other one was Ernest Kanzler, Edsel’s brother-in-law, but had Henry fired him years earlier.) If Edsel would have mentioned any of his foibles to anyone, it would have been Gregorie. Firstly, the two were friends. And secondly, Gregorie would keep his mouth shut.
But I was afraid to ask Gregorie what he knew about Edsel’s darkest secrets, because I was concerned that he would be insulted, so I never did. But fortuitously, he brought it up himself!
One day, we were reviewing the chapter I had written about Edsel Ford for my book on Edsel and Gregorie liked it very much, but then added: “I wish there was something spicy about Edsel Ford that we could put in this chapter…, you know…, liven it up a bit. But,” he said with a little tone of disappointment, “there isn’t anything. Edsel Ford was a nice man…, a gentleman…, and that’s it.”
Author: “Edsel,” and “Edsel Ford & E. T. Gregorie”