Mar 12, 2016

Wally Cox: Was Mr. Peepers Gay?

On February 9, 1970, Here's Lucy starred Alan Hale Jr. as Moose Manley (yes, that's his name), who worries that his son Wally (Wally Cox) is not manly enough -- he's "shy around girls."

I had never heard of Wally Cox before, but I knew all about the adults trying to push you into liking girls.

First Dad sets up Wally on a date with Lucy.  That doesn't work, so Dad gets Wally a job as a night watchman, and has Lucy pretend to be a burglar.  A real burglar shows up, Wally rises to the occasion, and Dad is satisfied.  Without "discovering girls."

Born in 1924, Wally Cox had a small frame and nasal voice that made him ideal for milquetoast roles, prissy, ineffectual, and not particularly interested in girls (although they often liked him).  Another example of the 1950s penchant for gay-vague characters.

He played junior high science teacher Mr. Peepers (1952-54), with Patricia Benoit as the woman trying to snare him and gay-positive Tony Randall as his ladies-man best friend.

Newspaper proofreader turned globetrotting adventurer Hiram Holliday (1956-57).

Bird-watcher P. Caspar Biddle on three episodes of  The Beverly Hillbillies (1966), who draws the attention of Ellie Mae.

Officious bureaucrats and other party-dampeners in several Disney movies.

He also provided the voice of superhero parody Underdogand was a fixture on the game show Hollywood Squares for 11 years (his last appearance was on February 26, 1973, a few days after his death).

Although small, Wally was athletic and very muscular. He often bemoaned his milquetoast typecasting, which prohibited him from taking his shirt off and displaying his physique.

Many years later I discovered that Wally grew up with the bisexual Marlon Brando, and roomed with him when he first moved to Los Angeles. He married women three times, but he and Brando continued to be close, and when they died, their ashes were combined and scattered together.

If you need more evidence that Wally Cox was gay: he was also friends with Sal Mineo, Nick Adams, and the whole 1950s Hollywood gay and gay-positive crowd.