May 28, 2017

Bob Hover/ Richard Harrison: Muscle Buddies

During the 1950s, when Muscle Beach bodybuilders were being snapped up by the Athletic Model Guild to pose in the burgeoning gay-vague physique magazines industry, buddies Bob Hover (right) and Richard Harrison (left) sometimes posed together.

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1936, Richard Harrison hit the beaches of Southern California in 1954, just after he graduated from high school.  Bob Hover was two years older, but he arrived that same year, after a stint in military (he was a boxer in the Marines).  They became close friends, and maybe lovers (if you believe the sly hints that the muscle mags used to sell copies).

Soon Hollywood came calling.  Bob had several small movie roles in 1956-58, usually with some of the other gay or gay-friendly actors of the 1950s, such as Lafayette Escadrille (1958) with Tab Hunter, and No Time for Sargeants (1958), with Nick Adams.

During the 1970s he starred on several soap operas, including Another World and As the World Turns.  He retired from acting in 1985, and died in 2013.

Richard first appeared on screen in 1957, and in 1961 moved to Italy to become one of the sword and sorcery peplum heroes.  Between 1961 and 1965, he donned the toga nine times, growing a beard in the process.  When the peplum craze ended, he stayed in Italy to make spaghetti Westerns and spy dramas.

In the 1980s Richard returned to the U.S. just in time for the man-muscle craze: Golden Ninja Warrior, Ninja Hunter, The Ninja Squad, Ninja Dragon.  He was over 50 years old, but age never kept a true bodybuilder from flexing and taking out enemy squadrons.   He also moved into writing, directing, and production.

Both Bob and Richard married and had children, but they made an indelible impression on gay men of the first Boomer generation.

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