Independent Lens: The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin

About This Episode

The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin examines the life and work of one of the world's most beloved storytellers, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels have inspired millions to claim their own truth. Jennifer Kroot's documentary about the creator of "Tales of the City" also gets by with some help from the author's friends — including Neil Gaiman, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Sir Ian McKellen and Amy Tan — along with Maupin himself to offer a disarmingly frank look at the journey that took him from the jungles of Vietnam to the bathhouses of ‘70s San Francisco to the frontlines of America’s ongoing culture war.

Maupin was born in Washington, D.C., in 1944 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he served as a naval officer in the Mediterranean and with the River Patrol Force in Vietnam. Maupin then worked as a reporter for a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, before, as fate would have it, he was assigned to the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. In 1976, he launched his groundbreaking Tales of the City serial in the San Francisco Chronicle, and his world and ours were never again the same. Maupin became one of the first gay writers to attain crossover status, authoring nine novels, including the six-volume "Tales of the City" series, as well as a memoir, Logical Family. Untold Tales is his own tale told in both playful and poignant fashion, reflective of the author himself.