Gay Actor Billi Gordon Entered Seminary & Did Drag — He Left It All to Get PhD in Neuroscience

Billi Gordon, a gay actor who died in 2012, is best known for his role as a drag queen in the movie. “Coming to America,”But acting wasn’t where his heart was. He made the decision to leave everything behind and follow his dreams.

Gay actor Billi Gordon, who has passed away Three years agoHe was one of Hollywood’s most prominent stars. Before he became a star in Hollywood, the actor had a difficult upbringing.

Gordon grew up overweight in Dowagiac, Michigan. He weighed in at around 300 lbs during high school. After being told he was called to be a priest, he briefly attended a Roman Catholic Seminary. 

Left: Billi Gordon in drag as a drag queen at the 1988 “Coming to America.”Right: Billi in a hospital gown. | Photo: Barr |

He began a tumultuous life in Los Angeles, working as a male escort and a female-looking prostitute. He later discovered his talent for comic writing and performing as a woman.

Gordon was a greeting-card model.  His job led him to the glamorous world of drag, where he was able to dress up in extreme hairstyles, makeup, and clothes.

Gordon was iconic in drag for his feminine features and flamboyant sense of humor. His husband, Robert Lindsay Schallert, who stayed by the actor’s side until his death,  in a 2009 LA Times interview:

“It was very convincing. There are people who still think he’s  woman.”

The couple tied the knot in 1988. Schallert is an actor. His first TV role was that of Wolfie Smith on the series. “Citizen Smith,”This was from 1977 to 1980.


Gordon is a crowd-pleaser, and he later became a naturalist. It gained popularity in Hollywood through films and television. He appeared in the 1986 film “The Party Animal,”Matthew Causey stars in the role. 

He published a cookbook because of his passion for food and writing talents. “You’ve Had Worse Things in Your Mouth.”

He appeared briefly in the sitcom Family Sitcom 1987. “Married…with Children,”He was a drag actor. He was also the drag queen in the 1988 film. “Coming 2 America.”


Gordon felt unhappy despite his promising Hollywood career. He wanted to make a fresh start and leave behind his successful career. In 1997, he completed his bachelor’s at the University of Michigan.

He then attended California State University- Northridge, where he completed his master’s in psychology and sociology. He kept enhancing his education. 

Gordon received his Ph.D. from the Union Institute and University in 2004 in Integrative Behavioral Neuroscience. He went on to pursue a postdoctoral career and a research career in neuroscience at UCLA.

Gordon studied psychology at UCLA and was interested in race, emotion, minorities health disparities, digestion health, obesity, and other issues that affected him personally. Because he felt it was his duty, he studied these topics.

Although he made funny jokes about how much he weighed while he was still acting on TV, the late TV star was open about his health issues, including obesity. 

His column, “Popular Column”, was previously published by him. “Obesely Speaking”Psychology Today magazine. He also contributed blogs to the Huffington Post (LA Times) 


Gordon suffered the negative effects of diet pills while he was young. However, he later experienced health problems.  

He was elected to the presidency in 2009. admittedAfter a large lump developed from his right thigh, he was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Because of his size, it was a difficult time for him at Cedars-Sinai.

Gordon’s weight was a problem. The hospital’s largest MRI machine had a maximum weight of 550 pounds. Gordon’s body weight was above the weight limit.

Billi Gordon is pictured in hospital receiving treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center 2009. Photo by Getty Images | Photo: Getty Images

Since the MRI was unavailable, Gordon went on a liquid protein diet, which aided him in dropping a significant amount of weight. Gordon was eventually discharged from the hospital, but he maintained his diet at home.

Gordon attributes his weight problems to many factors. Gordon shared that he suffered from thyroid problems, stress, an adverse reaction to beta-blockers and that his mother was bipolar.

Depression led to him having problems with his eating habits and overeating. According to his husband, Schallert, he said he tried everything to stop Gordon’s weight.

Schallert was able to keep Gordon from eating too much by locking their refrigerator. Schallert noted that Gordon was 400 lbs when they married. Schallert :

“My greatest hope for him would be to lose weight that would free him. He can’t get to places he needs to go to, he can’t get to places where he wants to go.”

Schallert loved Gordon, and accepted him as such. But Schallert wanted Gordon feel lighter. He described Gordon’s life as “synthetic”He was surrounded by a room equipped with a television and a computer as he did so.

Gordon was an ex-researcher at the UCLA Center for Research, Education, Training, and Strategic Communication on Minority Health Disparities. He worked a majority of his research from home using his computer.

Mark Cohen, UCLA School of Medicine professor of psychosis and Gordon’s supervisor for post-doctoral studies, stated that he had previously encouraged the actor to lose weight.

He published a cookbook because of his passion for food and writing talents. “You’ve Had Worse Things in Your Mouth.” Inside the book, he was Wear drag and channeled a character from the movie “Gone With The Wind.”

He was also the author. Five research publications, including his thesis about the perception of black male sexual prowess and the assertion of “The black stallion mystique.”

Gordon died after a turbulent youth and a successful career in TV, drag, and films. In 2018. His family experienced a financial crisis due to Gordon’s health issues.

His family sought public assistance and finally received it. Raised $15,250For his burial expenses. Schallert, his brothers and his loved family in Michigan survived Gordon.


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