Oct 10, 2016

Three TV Hunks on a Cold Winter Night

Davenport, Iowa, January 1980

January 15, 1980, a very cold, snowy Tuesday night during my sophomore year in college.  Fred the Ministerial Student and I are watching tv in his living room.  He is my first real boyfriend, and we have just started dating, so everything we watch seems bright and sexy and memorable.

7:00 pm: The White Shadow: A young female teacher gets a crush on high school basketball player Salami (Timothy Van Patten).   Fred explains how Timothy Van Patten got the nickname "Salami" in real life: he has the largest endowment in Hollywood, and is willing to prove it to anyone who asks.

8:00 pm: Three's Company: Jack Tripper (John Ritter) dates a woman who has an insanely protective brother, health club owner Harvey, a tall, blond muscle hunk.   Fred tells me that the actor who plays Harvey is gay; that's why he doesn't express any heterosexual interest of his own.

Wait -- a man-mountain like that is gay?  I'm just getting over the myth of all gay men being willowy swishes., so I can't believe it.  There are no gay reference books yet, and no internet, so there's no way to investigate.

8:30 pm: Taxi: Taxi company mechanic Latke (Andy Kaufman) falls in love with a girl from his home country.  Fred tells me that Tony Danza, who plays driver Tony Banta, is gay -- he had a nude photo spread in In Touch magazine.

9:00 pm: Hart to Hart: An old woman in Jonathan's building is being blackmailed.  Fred tells me that Robert Wagner, who plays millionaire sleuth Jonathan Hart, used to go to naked pool parties in the Hollywood Hills with gay actors like Marlon Brando and Tab Hunter.

What about the screen hunk on Three's Company?  Turns out that he was Steve Sandor (1937-) a former steel worker and air force police officer who had been playing man-mountains since 1967, on Star Trek, Canon, The Rookies, Ironside, Starsky and Hutch, and many other dramas.  He rarely did comedy.

He would go on to more guest spots, plus a sword-and-sorcery hero in the animated Fire and Ice (1983) and a post-Apocalyptic hero in the Road Warrior rip-off Stryker (1983).

He stopped acting in the late 1990s.  No word on whether he's actually gay or not.

But he was gay enough on a cold winter night in 1980.

See also: Was it a Date?

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