Feb 20, 2018

The Incredible Severns Grow Up

"The Incredible Severns" are featured in the March 10, 1947 issue of Life Magazine, brothers ranging in age from 4 to 21, all in show biz.  Here Peter Stackpole photographs them demonstrating "Yoga-like muscle exercises"

Looks to me like they're just showing us their ribs.

So, did they grow up to be musclemen?  I did some research.

Dr. Clifford Brill Severn (1890-1981) and his wife Rachel, Afrikaans-speaking South Africans from Johannesburg, immigrated to the U.S. in the 1930s, and got all eight of their children (six sons and two daughters) involved in movies.

Cliff (1925-2014) began acting at age ten, and appeared as the boy buying Scrooge's Christmas goose in A Christmas Carol (1938).  He retired from acting after They Live in Fear (1944) to join the British army.  In 1947 he founded the Southern California Cricket Club, and championed the sport in the U.S. for the rest of his life (photo: a random shirtless cricket player).

Raymond (1930-1994) began acting at age nine, and played opposite Mickey Rooney in A Yank at Eton (1942).  He retired in 1944, and in 1947 joined the Southern California Cricket Club with his brother (photo: Mickey Rooney).

Ernest (1933-1987) appeared in four movies, and retired in 1947.

Christopher (1935-) appeared in six movies, including Mr. Miniver (1942).  He retired from acting after Titanic (1953).

William (1938-1983) appeared in seven movies, including David and Bathsheba (1951).  After high school, he became a fundamentalist Christian and started an evangelical ministry that took him all over the world.  He later became a televangelist.

Winston (1942-) appeared in four movies, including A Man Called Peter (1955).  He later played on the U.S. national cricket team. I"m guessing that this is his grandson.

Ok, I didn't find any musclemen in the grown-up "Incredible Severns."  But it was fun trying.

Feb 19, 2018

Searching for Beefcake in Northern Indiana

When I was growing up, we made two or three trips every year from Rock Island to my parents' hometown in Indiana: Interstate 80 east to Chicago, then State Highway 30 southeast past Valparaiso, Plymouth, Warsaw, and Columbia City, and finally northeast on a nameless country road through Churubusco and Laotto.

Or, on the way back, Laotto, Churubusco, Columbia City, Warsaw, Plymouth, Valparaiso, Chicago.

We never stopped in any of those cities, and you saw almost nothing of them from the highway.  But I always wondered, who lived in them?  What did they see, and do, and think about as they went about the ever-churning days of their lives?

So I looked for the beefcake.

1. Valparaiso, Indiana, population 33,000, home of the Lutheran Valparaiso University.  I thought about going there, just because I had seen the Chapel of the Resurrection from the freeway so often.

It's the largest university chapel in America, seating about 2,000 people, with a 98-foot tall chancel shaped like a 9-pointed star.  Especially impressive at night.

Oh, there's also a swim team, whose star athlete Ryan Hrosik has beat many records.  In the top photo, he poses with two buffed friends on Instagram (no, I don't know which one he is.)

2. Warsaw, Indiana, population 14,000, doesn't necessarily have a lot of people of Polish ancestry: it was named in honor of Tadeuz Kosciuszko, the liberator of Poland (so was Kosciusko County). 

It is the home of Theodore Dreiser (author of dull modernist novels) and Ambrose Bierce (author of bitter satiric stories). One of its main draws is the Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts, which this season is performing Seussical the Musical, My Fair Lady, Saturday Night Fever, and One Man Two Guvnors, and hosting the Symphony of the Lakes Young Artist Competition.
 Last year Peter Rutkowski won.

Oh, and the high school has a swim team.

3. Columbia City, Indiana, population 8,700, always seemed like a much bigger city to me, probably because we saw more of it from the highway.  We went past several restaurants that looked cool, and  right through Morsches Park, a rare forested area in the midst of the Indiana cornfields.

Columbia City is the home of the Mihsihkinaahkwa Pow Wow, an annual gathering of the Miami nation.

Not to mention swimming and wrestling matches at Columbia City High.

More after the break

Will Hutchins: Gay Best Friend of 1960s TV

Nobody makes my gaydar go off more than Will Hutchins (1930-). A blond-haired, blue-eyed pretty boy, he got his start in Hollywood with a parody Western, Sugarlips...um, I mean Sugarfoot (1957-61). 

Then he played Paul Lynde's beatnik son-in law/boyfriend in the tv pilot Howie (1962)

A police officer/Elvis Presley's boyfriend in Spinout (1966).

A "prince and the pauper" water skiing instructor/Elvis Presley's boyfriend in Clambake (1967)

Sandy Baron's boyfriend in Hey, Landlord (1966-67).

This studio photo purports to show how macho Will is, working out withcowboy star Clint Walker.  But it actually shows him gawking at the muscular, hairy chest.

Here he's apparently dancing with Ron Ely, who played Tarzan.

He was also a best friend of Jocko Mahoney, another Tarzan.

There are worse ways to spend your retirement than befriending Tarzans.

Hutch was married to Chrissie Burnett (Carol Burnett's sister) for a nfew years in the 1960s, and in 1988, at the age of 58, he married Babs (Barbara Torres).  

Today Hutch is still active on the nostalgia circuit, and he writes a blog called "A Touch of Hutch"  in a "Howdy, pardners!" Western accent.

A very interesting blog!  Reminisces about W. C. Fields juggling at a party, Jack Benny claiming to have starred in Casablanca.  Lots of appreciation of masculine beauty, such as Clint Walker ("his abs have abs.  Cinemascope shoulders") and this practical joke he played on fellow Western star Ty Hardin:

Once, Warner Bros. put on a blacktie soiree at a snazzy hotel in Beverly Hills. We told Ty it was a costume party. There we all were in rented finery, and there was Ty in feather, loin cloth, and full body make-up—yahoo!   Boy, did he have fun that night. The joke was on us.

I hear you, Hutch -- I'd be yelling "yahoo!" at the sight of Ty Hardin in a loincloth, too.


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