KENT — Someone once said a first love sets you up for what is to come and it is the one you ever forget. Alan Shayne, former actor and president of Warner Brothers Television, affirms this belief in his new memoir “The Rain May Pass.” It is the story of a young boy in the year before World War II began, confused about his feelings, anxious about his sexuality, searching for a purpose and feeling very much alone until he meets someone who helps him feel confident about his worth.

“It’s a book I’ve been wanting to write for long time,” says Shayne. “It’s about an incident in my life that defines what happens to me, when I meet an older man who befriends me. It starts when I am 15 and ends when I am 17. I remember every single instance of this experience. I’ve wanted to write about it because it’s a story that, while sad at times, has a happy ending.

“It was during a time when there was no Internet, no books about being gay, there were no television shows that featured gay people. There was no one to talk to, especially not my family. I couldn’t express my feelings because I didn’t understand them. Meeting Roger Alton was life-changing, for he made me see that I was worth something, which my family didn’t do, and set me on the path to become an actor. My family would never have allowed that.”

That summer Shayne was working at his grandmother’s shop in Falmouth, Mass., not something he enjoyed doing because she was so unpleasant, but she needed the help. And it was a chance to be away from his parents.

On Sundays, Shayne went to a small beach where he could spend some time alone. It was there that he first saw Alton. He was sitting with two women, not very far from Shayne.

“The man seemed to feel me looking at him,” Shayne writes in “The Rain May Pass,” “and turned my way. For a moment we both stared at each other and then the man went on talking to his companions. I picked up my book but couldn’t concentrate…They were laughing and enjoying each other so much that I felt more alone than ever.”

Alton eventually walks over to speak to Shayne and that is the beginning of the relationship. A chance meeting that changes the course of his life.

Alton introduces Shayne into the world of literature and music, as well as helping him accept his sexuality and begin to believe in his worth. He also encourages Shayne’s desire to become an actor.

The age difference between the two men, and Shayne’s eagerness to solidify the relationship brings some tense moments to the story. Alton’s reluctance to commit to happily ever after causes the young boy a great deal of pain. When Alton goes off to war, Shayne’s world comes crashing down.

But he soldiers on, thanks to his newfound confidence. Opportunities arise in the world of local theater and he eventually does become a successful actor. He receives a couple of letters from Alton and then there is no further communication.

Shayne kept a diary during his childhood and was able, with the pieces he had saved, to go back and reexamine that period of his life.

“Writing a memoir enables you to go back into the past and try to make sense of it,” says Shayne. “Sometimes when I write, I imagine myself as the young boy that I was; other times I can step back and see what was really happening.”

“The Rain May Pass” is a beautiful book about love and has received praise from critics such as Rex Reed, who said: “With truthfulness and dignity, it captured and explored ageless virtues, failures, self-doubts, anxieties and other challenges that add up the bricks that construct a life.”

Shayne’s previous book is about love as well; “Double Life: A Love Story from Broadway to Hollywood,” a memoir he wrote with his husband, artist Norman Sunshine. The couple has now been together for 63 years.

As for the provocative title “The Rain May Pass,” Shayne says, “I got a chance to interview for summer theater. It was pouring rain and I met this strange woman who owned the theater. I was only 16. The men were going into the army and so I had a chance to get a part in a play. The woman took my hand and said the rain may pass. And that has always stayed with me.”

Shayne will be appearing via Zoom at the Kent Library on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. in conversation with reviewer Amos Lassen. To register for this event visit www.kentmemoriallibrary.org.

Connecticut Media Group