Apr 22, 2016

Joel and Jody McCrea: The Bisexual Cowboy and His Beach-Movie Son

Speaking of showbiz families, Joel McCrea (1905-1990) was a tall, lanky, and muscular, perfect for roles as white-hat cowboys.  And he played a lot of them during his 50-year movie career.

But you're probably more interested in his movies with gay subtexts, such as The Silver Cord (1933), where he plays a young doctor with a domineering mother, or Ride the High Country (1962), where he and Randolph Scott play a pair of long-term cowboy partners.

Or at least the ones where he disrobes, such as the European-in-Polynesia romance Bird of Paradise (1932).

Bisexual in real life, he was married to actress Frances Dee from 1933 until his death, but also had male lovers, including Montgomery Clift.

Joel's oldest son Jody (born 1934) was tall and athletic, and a dead ringer for his father.  He started out playing cowboys, too.

But he is best known for his comedic roles, playing dopey sidekicks named Deadhead, Bonehead, and Big Lunk in six Frankie and Annette beach movies of the 1960s.  He still got to display his bulge in a swimsuit, when he wasn't self-consciously trying to hide it.

Typecast as boneheads, he retired from acting in the early 1970s, and became a rancher in New Mexico.

Of Jody's five children, only Wyatt is interested in show biz.  He has appeared in a few tv series, and produced Gen's Guiltless Gourmet (2009).  He also manages his grandfather's ranch, a tourist attraction in Thousand Oaks, CA

See also: Beach Movies 1: The Beefcake