Feb 5, 2013

Ken Olandt

During the 1980s, it seemed that every adult actor and teen idol spent eight hours per day pumping iron, so physiques that were merely stunning risked being overlooked in the exalted company of Robby Benson, Allan Kayser, Jon-Erik Hexum, Adrian Zmed, and Sylvester Stallone.

Ken Olandt was almost overlooked.  Trained as an advertising agent, he and his physique started making the rounds of tv guest shots in 1983 -- Love Boat, The A-Team, Simon & Simon, Hotel.  He got a recurring role as a streetwise dock boy on the short-lived Riptide (1984-85).  But he was rarely asked to do as much as unbutton a button by casting agents accustomed to walking, talking versions of Michelangelo's David.

 And the teen magazines, when they paid attention to him at all, showed off his smile (which, to be fair, was very nice).

In 1986, Ken -- or his agent -- hit on a gimmick to get him noticed.  If his pecs and abs were merely spectacular, why not show off the regions where he really surpassed mortal expectatons?  Most other actors were too timid or inadequately superhuman to agree to underwear and jockstrap shots, but Ken was more than qualified, and not at all timid.

April Fool's Day (1986) was a psycho-slasher -- a genre not generally known for male nudity, with the possible exception of Hell Night -- but Ken spent a long scene in his underwear (and, incidentally, buddy-bonding), and gay men and straight women finally started paying attention.

Summer School (1987), a comedy about a substitute teacher (Mark Harmon) who bonds with his students on the way to the beach, featured Ken as a student moonlighting as a stripper.

And so it went for the next decade.  Whether he guest-starred on a remake of the 1960s tv show Gidget,  set mostly on the beach, or Murder, She Wrote, set elsewhere, more likely than not, Ken would be asked to strip down to his underwear or appear nude except for a g-string or swimsuit.

Not that anyone was complaining.