Mary is apparently the person who told Freddie he was gay. She has famously said that when he told her he was bisexual she corrected him. But for six years they were a devoted couple – and remained almost inseparable until his death. Freddie proposed to Mary and they lived together. She maintains she had sensed the end was coming but hadn’t been able to completely understand what was happening at the time.
Mary recalled: “When I was 23 he gave me a big box on Christmas Day. Inside was another box, then another and so it went on. It was like one of his playful games. Eventually, I found a lovely jade ring inside the last small box.
“I looked at it and was speechless. I remember thinking, ‘I don’t understand what’s going on.’ It wasn’t what I’d expected at all. So I asked him, ‘Which hand should I put this on?’ And he said, ‘Ring finger, left hand.’ And then he said, ‘Because, will you marry me?’
“I was shocked. It just so wasn’t what I was expecting. I just whispered, ‘Yes. I will.'”
She said: “Sometime later, I spotted a wonderful antique wedding dress in a small shop. And as Freddie hadn’t said anything more about marrying, the only way that I could test the water was to say, ‘Is it time I bought the dress?’
“But he said ‘No’. He had gone off the idea and it never happened.
“I was disappointed but I had a feeling it wasn’t going to happen. Things were getting very complicated and the atmosphere between us was changing a lot. I knew the writing was on the wall, but what writing? I wasn’t absolutely sure.”
But Mary wasn’t the only one who was confused.
All the way back at college in his teen years, his friends had never been able to work out his sexuality but simply took Freddie as he was.
Paul Humberstone was one of Freddie’s close friends at Ealing Art College in 1968: “We all thought Fred was a bit effeminate; he spoke with a heavy lisp. But he had girlfriends at the time. We never knew about his really private life or were even that bothered about it.”
Another college friend, Rose Pearson, says she was the star’s “first girlfriend” and he was “an ardent lover.”
After splitting with Mary, Freddie went on to date a number of men before he settled happily with Jim Hutton.
To the end of his life, Freddie referred to Mary as the “love of my life” and “my common-law wife.”