Apr 8, 2013

Michael Lembeck

Speaking of One Day at a Time (1975-84),  the biggest hunk who entered the lives of the single mom Ann Romano and her two daughters (Barbara and Julie) was not William Kirby Cullen or Scott Colomby, but Michael Lembeck as the smiling, bearded, hairy-chested, tight-jeans wearing Max Horvath.

He first appears on October 14th, 1979, as the best man at Julie's wedding -- who falls in love with Julie himself.   Eventually they marry and have a child.  By the last season, Julie has run away, leaving Max a single dad. In an interesting triangulation, he is sharing a house with Barbara and her husband Mark (Boyd Gaines).

Born in 1948, Michael Lembeck was the son of Harvey Lembeck, famous as the juvenile delinquent foil in the Frankie-and-Annette beach movies.  He was visible through the 1970s, with guest spots on The Partridge Family, Happy Days, Love American Style, and Room 222, and a recurring role on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1976), plus several important movie appearances.

In Blood Sport (1973), mooning over high-school football star Gary Busey.

In the war drama The Boys in Company C (1978), as the wise-guy Vinnie Fazio, who buddy-bonds with Billy Ray (Andrew Pike).

In Gorp (1980), a spoof of summer-camp sex comedies, as muscular camp waiter Kavell, who buddy-bonds with the nerdish Bergman (Philip Casnoff, right) as they try to get laid and befuddle the authorities.

But he was most familiar to Boomer kids as Kaptain Kool, androgynous glam-rock lead singer for Kaptain Kool and the Kongs, the Saturday morning tv rock group that appeared on The Krofft Supershow and its various spinoffs in the late 1970s.

After One Day at a Time, Michael worked primarily as a director, with episodes of Coach, Major Dad, Ellen, Jesse, Veronica's Closet, Friends, Hot in Cleveland, and Baby Daddy (a sitcom with a queer theme, about two brothers raising a child together).  He hasn't played any gay characters, but he directed Connie and Carla (2004), about two women who hide out disguised as drag queens, and a 2012 episode of Baby Daddy in which the brothers' Dad turns out to be gay.