Oct 12, 2012

Get Your Beefcake on Route 66

Speaking of buddy-bonding tv,  Route 66 (1960-64) was before my time and never rerun, so I've only seen a few clips on youtube, but older Boomers tell me that it was one of the gay-friendly lights of the early 1960s.

It starred clean-cut Yale undergrad  Tod (29 year old Martin Milner, who had just appeared in a loincloth in the risque Private Lives of Adam and Eve).  Tod -- not Todd -- and his boyfriend traveled around in a blue 1960 Chevy Corvette "in search of America," like Jack Kerouac before them.













His first boyfriend,  Buz (not Buzz -- evidently the producers didn't care for last letters), was a streetwise former juvenile delinquent from Hell's Kitchen, played by 32-year old George Maharis.  A 1973 Playgirl centerfold, Maharis was gay in real life.













After 2 1/2 seasons, Maharis dropped out, citing the grueling schedule and a bout of hepatitis, Tod quickly found a new boyfriend, haunted ex-GI Lincoln (30-year old Glenn Corbett, recently of It's a Man's World). A former Physique Pictorial model, Corbett was bisexual in real life.












They didn't stick to Route 66; they crossed the U.S. and Canada several times, surfing in Southern California, working on a lobster boat in Maine and a ranch in Wyoming, going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, vacationing in Toronto. As usual in road series, they got involved in the private dramas of people they met along the way.

The buddy-bonding seems rather intense, and virtually none of the episodes involved getting girlfriends. However, there were little else for gay kids to watch:
1. Very few rescues (usually they were taken hostage together).
2. Insufficient beefcake, considering the number of bodybuilders in the cast (these pictures are from other projects).
3. And the series ended with Tod getting married, his youthful spirit -- and his same-sex romance -- giving way to heterosexual destiny.

But sometimes just an intense friendship is enough.

After Route 66, Martin Milner starred in the beefcake-heavy  GidgetAdam-12 and Swiss Family Robinson (with Willie Aames).  Glenn Corbett starred in The Secret of Boyne Castle and a few Westerns before moving behind the scenes.  George Maharis had guest spots on many tv programs, performed in nightclubs, and pursued a second career as a painter.