Writer and publicist Kenneth Harold Dickmann was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 27, 1942. After high school in the midwest, he served for four years in the United States Air Force until he received a dishonorable discharge when it was revealed that he was gay. However, he successfully challenged and overturned his dishonorable discharge status.
After leaving the Air Force, he lived in San Francisco in the early 1960s where he quickly became involved in the local theater scene as a performer, writer, and director. He starred in Society for Individual Rights (SIR) productions of all-male musicals, including Little Mary Sunshine, Dames at Sea, and Silhouettes. He directed the SIRlebrities Capades and hosted the Isadora Duncan Picnics and Bette Bus costume parties. During this time, he wrote weekly columns for Kaleidoscope, Data-Boy, and other publications.
By the 1980s, Dickmann had moved to Los Angeles and was writing theater reviews and celebrity interviews for the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Frontiers, Edge, and the Advocate. In addition, Dickmann worked in public relations for Filmex and the American Cinematheque, the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Art Festival, and various film festivals throughout Southern California.
By the 1990s, Dickmann had been introduced to Hawaii by his dear friend Lee Mentley, and was dividing his time between Los Angeles and Hawaii, getting involved in Hawaiian cultural arts and community organizations. After being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, Dickmann spent much of the last years of his life convalescing at Mentley's home until he returned to Los Angeles a few days before his death. Dickmann died of AIDS-related complications on November 20, 1995 in Los Angeles, and his ashes were scattered under the ancient Hawaiian temple made famous in the musical South Pacific.
Box 1, Folder 1-3, Ken Dickmann Papers and Photographs, Coll2013-063, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California.