Mar 29, 2015

Ken Clark: Bodybuilder on My Sausage Sighting List

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've seen live performances of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific about a dozen times, but never the 1958 musical. Until now.

Beefcake abounds, of course.  But I already knew that.  Then I saw the minor character Stewpot leading the sailors in "There's Nothing Like a Dame."

Was I really seeing what I thought I was seeing?

Fast forward to Stewpot's only other scene, a weightlifting contest.  In a swimsuit, not a skimpy 1950s posing strap.

Sausage Sighting: impossible to mistake.

Brian's Drive-In Theater has a lot to say about Ken Clark, who played Stewpot.  He was a 31-year old bodybuilder who had a string of B-movie roles in the 1950s.  In the early 1960s, capitalizing on the sword-and-sandal craze, he moved to Italy, where he starred in Maciste contro i Mongoli  (1963)  and  Maciste nell'inferno di Genghis Khan (1964) with Mark Forest, and Ercole l'invincibile (1964) with Dan Vadis.  He also starred in some spaghetti Westerns and played Dick Malloy, Secret Agent 077, in some Italian spy dramas.

Ken continued to live in Rome, and perform in Italian tv and movies, through his life.  He died in 2009, at the age of 81.

No word on whether he was gay or not, but he never married, and apparently he never had any girlfriends, except, just before he moved to Italy, Shelley Winters.

Ok, I heard that before -- it's the tale of a lot of 1950s bodybuilders.  I knew Ken would have a magnificent physique.  But would he display his Bratwurst so blatantly?


Here he is playing game warden Steve Benton in The Attack of the Giant Laneches (#10 on my list of the Top Horror Movies of the 1950s). That's not a giant leech in his pocket.

How did this one get by the censors?  It's from a 1957 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  

Here's he posing "demurely" in a turtleneck sweater for an Italian movie magazine.

Too bad he wasn't cast in the mid-1960s Batman.  He would have given the legendary endowments of Robin (Burt Ward) and the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) some major competition.