Sep 5, 2012

Michael Gray and Captain Marvel


Michael Gray didn't get a big teen idol treatment, maybe because he didn't sing, so there was nothing for his fans to do but wait for Saturday morning, when his live-action tv show Shazam (1974-77) came on after Land of the Lost.  It was about a teenager named Billy Batson who traveled around with an older mentor (Lee Tremayne), looking for people in trouble.  When he found some, he would say "Shazam!" and turn into the muscular superhero Captain Marvel (so all bad guys had to do was gag him, and he'd be helpless).

Wait -- a middle-aged man and a teenage boy traveling and living together?  Sounds like a homodomestic pair to me.

It was a slight, wish-fulfillment plot, similar to The Powers of Matthew Star  a few years later.  My friends and I found it too childish to watch regularly.  But to make matters worse, after a season, Shazam got all mixed up with the adventures of a miniskirted female superhero, the Mighty Isis, so you could never be sure if you would see beefcake or cheesecake.

But at least Michael Gray was cute, in an androgynous teen idol way, and his alter ego, Captain Marvel, (Jackson Bostwick, John Davey) had muscles in all the right places.













Shazam marked the beginning and the end of Michael Gray's fame, but he's doing well in his second career as a florist.