Oct 13, 2012

Swinging Bachelor Detectives of the 1960s

The early 1960s was overloaded with tv shows about "swinging bachelors" who dug the ladies but found their deepest emotional bonds with each other: Route 66, Follow the Sun, Bourbon Street Beat, It's a Man's World, Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, Surfside 6.  (Sea Hunt was an exception, about a solo scuba diver.)

They usually had a female friend who worked the switchboard or sang at the local bar and provided opportunities for leering, but few if any plots involved them finding heterosexual romance.

The bachelors were often discovered by gay talent agent Henry Willson, so they were often gay, bisexual, or gay friendly.

77 Sunset Strip (1958-64) paired Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (straight) and Roger Smith (straight) as detectives who lived in Los Angeles. Edd Byrnes (rumored to be gay) played Kookie, a hipster who worked at the nightclub next door, and eventually became a business partner. Jacqueline Beer played Suzanne, their telephone operator.

Bourbon Street Beat (1959-60) paired Richard Long (rumored to be gay) and Van Williams, left (rumored to be gay), detectives who lived in New Orleans.  Cal Duggan (straight) was their business partner.  Arlene Howell played Melody, their secretary.

Hawaiian Eye (1959-63) paired Anthony Eisley (rumored to be gay) and Robert Conrad (straight) as detectives who lived in Hawaii.  Connie Stevens played Cricket, who sang at the Shell Bar.

Surfside 6 (1960-62) paired Van Williams (just before he played The Green Hornet),  with Lee Patterson (gay) as detectives who lived on a houseboat docked at Miami Beach.  Troy Donahue, left (rumored to be gay) played their friend, a wealthy playboy who lived on the yacht next door.  Margarita Sierra played a woman with the odd name "Cha Cha," who sang at a bar with the odd name "Boom Boom Room."

Follow the Sun (1961-62) paired Brett Halsey (rumored to be gay) with Barry Coe, left (straight) as writers who solve crimes in Hawaii. Gary Lockwood (bisexual), who appeared shirtless in The Magic Sword, played their assistant.  Gigi Perreau played their secretary.

What are we to make of this abundance of beefcake and buddy-bonding?

An idolization of the unmarried and unattached heterosexual swinger, after years of 1950s Family Men.
A fear of the feminine: women were portrayed as a pleasant distraction from the important things in life. But inadvertently it gave Boomer kids a glimpse of homodomesticity, men who lived together, loved each other, and didn't need a woman to fulfill them.

1 comment:

  1. That was some prime beefcake! Too bad I wasn't born yet!


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