May 11, 2016

David Macklin: The Boy with Something Extra

I don't remember much from 1965, when we were living in Racine, Wisconsin, but I remember my dismal, depressing 5th birthday on November 19th.  My mother and I were both sick.

I got a Tell-the-Time Clock with a smiley face and gloves on its hands, but I was too sick to play with it.  There wasn't any cake.  I sat on the couch, sipping 7-Up and watching tv.  First The Flintstones, and then Tammy, with a sugary mawdlin song that's still etched into my brain.

I hear the cottonwoods whisperin' above.
Tammy--Tammy-Tammy's in love.

It was a hayseed sitcom (1965-66) about a bayou gal who becomes the secretary for a powerful industrialist and sets her sights on his fey son.

An earlier movie series (1957, 1961, 1963) had the bayou gal (Debbie Reynolds, Sandra Dee) bringing joie de vivre to effete city folk, and meanwhile falling in love with a different rich boy in each installment (Leslie Nielsen, John Gavin, Peter Fonda).  The theme song peaked at #1 on the pop charts in 1957.

My parents liked it so much that they named my sister "Tammy."

I hated the song (maybe because my father sang it at random moments for the next twenty years), but I liked the tv show, because Tammy was courting a boy (David Macklin) who didn't really like girls.  He was just playing along.

And he obviously had something extra beneath the belt.

David Macklin popped up again and again during my childhood.  A teen surfer on Gidget (1966).  A fratboy on The Munsters (1966).  A hippie on Ironside (1968). An abused rich kid on Cannon (1973). A boy who hosts his visiting aunt without realizing that she's dead on The Twilight Zone (1960, but I saw it around 1974).

His characters never liked girls, unless they were forced to, and he had a thin, haughty face and haunted eyes that made him look like he knew about the Tripods.

You never saw David nude, or even shirtless, but if you looked closely, you could tell that he belonged to the Burt Ward, Frank Gorshin, and Ken Clark club of beneath-the-belt hugeness.

He had only a few significant movie roles.  In The Young Animals (1968), new kid in town Tony (Tom Nardino, who would go on to star in the gay-themed Siege) tries to make peace between warring gangs, especially the white gang led by Bruce (David).  The Mexican was led by Paco (Zooey Hall, who would go on to star in the gay-themed Fortune and Men's Eyes with Sal Mineo).  I haven't seen it, but apparently there's some substantial gay subtexts.

Welcome to Arrow Beach (1974) is about a brother and sister who eat people.  David plays a hospital orderly who stumbles onto their nefarious plot.

David disappeared from the screen in the 1980s.  Today he lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he makes ceramics, collects Sherlock Holmes memorability (especially involving Basil Rathbone), and teaches acting.  He also runs a yahoo group for movie fans, where he often publicizes issues of gay and lesbian interest.

Maybe he's gay.  His characters were gay enough for a 5 year old.

See also: My First Bulge

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