Apr 15, 2013

Fury: a Boy, his Buddy, and a Horse

Propriety kept most teen stars of the 1950s under wraps; you were supposed to find them dreamy, but not gaze longingly at biceps and bulges. But prudery never stopped Bobby Diamond from displaying his gifts to the world.

Born in 1943, he was discovered by a talent scout and put to work in 1952.  In 1955, with a string of small parts on his resume, Bobby was cast as the lead in the boy-and-horse melodrama Fury (1955-60).

It was set in the modern Wild West: orphaned Joey is adopted by rancher Jim Newton (Peter Graves) and given a horse named Fury, who performs a function similar to Lassie, rescuing Joey when he gets into scrapes or, if stymied by the lack of opposable thumbs, running for help.

Though Bobby was an adolescent during the course of the series, he was generally excused from expressing heterosexual interest (he gets a crush on a girl in one episode).

The producers did give Joey a series of best friends to get into scrapes with, notably Packy (Roger Mobley),  Pee Wee (Jimmy Baird), and Buzz (Stuffy Singer), but they didn't express any heterosexual interest, either.  The episode "Pee Wee Grows Up" would today mean getting a girlfriend, but in 1956 it meant signing up for a bodybuilding course.

In an attempt to keep Joey a "kid," the producers had to  constantly hide his increasing height, deepening voice, and hardening muscles. Only a few episodes apparently allowed the teen idol to drop his shirt or appear in a swimsuit. 

After Fury, Bobby was offered My Three Sons, but instead he decided to become the only son of Nannette Fabray in her one-season flop.  Then he starred in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1962-63) as Dobie's innocent cousin Dunky, and guest starred on Wagon Train, The FBI, Mr. Ed, and Lassie.  

 His most significant buddy-bonding movie role was in Billie (1965), starring Patty Duke as a girl who likes boys in spite of her masculine-coded traits; Bobby played her boyfriend's buddy.

Bobby earned a law degree in 1970, specializing in personal injury and medical malpractice, and retired from acting, though he has occasionally done some voice work (center, with Lassie stars Tommy Rettig and Joey Viera).

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