Aug 8, 2012

Run, Buddy, Run

There were a few tv programs in the 1960s that I couldn't bear to miss, that I thought were "good beyond hope": That Girl, Maya, Dark Shadows.   Revisiting them after 40 years, it's sometimes hard to figure out why.  But the appeal of Run, Buddy, Run (1966-67) is obvious.

The plot was ok: mild-mannered nebbish learns a terrible secret about organized crime, and must run from the baddies who want him dead.

But said nebbish, Buddy Overstreet, played by Jack Sheldon, was very cute, hirsute, and muscular, and couldn't keep his clothes on.  In every episode, the writers found some reason show him shirtless or in his underwear.  He's in a steam room, in bed, at the beach. His shirt gets ripped off when he tries to flee. Or there is no reason; he's just shirtless.

Head gangster Mr. D, played by Bruce Gordon, had a passion for shirtless muscle-bear shots also.

This is an extremely rare phenomenon in 1960's sitcoms.  You never saw Donald Hollinger, Darren Stevens, or Major Healey in their underwear.

Jack Sheldon has appeared in some other tv series, including a starring role in The Girl with Something Extra. He was the voice of "The Bill" on Schoolhouse Rock (1975), a bit which has been parodied on both The Simpsons and Family Guy.  But he is primarily a a jazz musician -- trumpeter and vocalist -- who has worked with every great in the business, from Dizzy Gillespie to Lena Horne. He is apparently heterosexual, with a wife and four kids, but he was certainly a gay icon in 1966.

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