Aug 8, 2012

Run, Buddy, Run

There were a few tv programs in the 1960s that I couldn't bear to miss, that I thought were "good beyond hope": That Girl, Maya, Dark Shadows.   Revisiting them after 40 years, it's sometimes hard to figure out why.  But the appeal of Run, Buddy, Run (1966-67) is obvious.

The plot was ok: mild-mannered nebbish learns a terrible secret about organized crime, and must run from the baddies who want him dead.

But said nebbish, Buddy Overstreet, played by Jack Sheldon, was very cute, hirsute, and muscular, and couldn't keep his clothes on.  In every episode, the writers found some reason show him shirtless or in his underwear.  He's in a steam room, in bed, at the beach. His shirt gets ripped off when he tries to flee. Or there is no reason; he's just shirtless.

Head gangster Mr. D, played by Bruce Gordon, had a passion for shirtless muscle-bear shots also.

This is an extremely rare phenomenon in 1960's sitcoms.  You never saw Donald Hollinger, Darren Stevens, or Major Healey in their underwear.

Jack Sheldon has appeared in some other tv series, including a starring role in The Girl with Something Extra. He was the voice of "The Bill" on Schoolhouse Rock (1975), a bit which has been parodied on both The Simpsons and Family Guy.  But he is primarily a a jazz musician -- trumpeter and vocalist -- who has worked with every great in the business, from Dizzy Gillespie to Lena Horne. He is apparently heterosexual, with a wife and four kids, but he was certainly a gay icon in 1966.

Big Jim's Pool Party

For Christmas in 1972, Mattel offered gay boys their own male stripper doll:

Big Jim was supposedly a secret agent of some kind -- he had various spy outfits -- but it was a lot more fun to pose him in his pink underwear and watch his biceps bulge.   If you were lucky enough to get his friends, Big Jack (black), Big Josh (bear), and Big Jeff (twink), you could host a pool party, or else have the evil Dr. Steel tie them up in pairs and force them to kiss.

I don't know what the straight boys were supposed to do with them

Aug 7, 2012

Stephen Parr and the Robot

During the fall of 1977, Saturday morning tv featured several live-action programs, including Skatebirds, an anthology series that ripped off The Banana Splits from a decade before.  It didn't last long, but one of its live-action segments, Mystery Island (note: not Mysterious Island) was noteworthy for two reasons.

1. It recycled the famous Lost in Space robot.

2. The mega-muscular Stephen Parr spent most episodes with his shirt off.

There's not much else to find out about Stephen Parr. He worked as a model (naturally). Beginning in 1975, he had guest shots on lots of tv series, from Barnaby Jones to Cheers, and had a brief starring role on All My Children.  According to the Internet Movie Database, he last worked in television in 1993. I don't know what he's doing now. But he certainly brightened a lot of Saturday mornings in 1977.

Chris Lowe and Patrick Flueger: The Stars of "Spin" Get Romantic

The movie Spin (2007) is an indie multi-timeline, multi-viewpoint story about six hardbodies getting into trouble in a heterosexual L.A. nightclub, their lives all intertwined by dj Ryan (Patrick Flueger).  Chris Lowell plays a crystal meth user.

Chris went on to star in Veronica Mars and Private Practice, and in the movies Graduation (2007), Up in the Air (2009), and Love and Honor (2013).  As far as I can tell, he's never played a gay character.

Patrick Flueger, most famous as Jeremiah Hart in The Princess Diaries (2001), has guest starred in many tv series, and had starring roles in The 4400 and Scoundrels.  He has appeared in the secluded-cabin-horror Kill Theory (2008), the workplace comedy The Job (2009), Footloose (2011), and The Hatfields and the McCoys (2013).  As far as I can tell without seeing any of them, as heterosexual characters.

So I'm wondering about these photos.

Is there a gay romance going on here, or an unself-conscious bromance between straight guys?

Aug 6, 2012

Denny Miller

Another iconic memory from my childhood -- an episode of Gilligan's Island, the sitcom about shipwreck survivors stranded on an island in the South Pacific. Gilligan (Bob Denver) was cute, and he obviously shared a romantic relationship with the Skipper (Alan Hale, Jr.), but there was no beefcake.  Except for that one episode, "Big Man on Little Stick," when muscular surfer Duke (Denny Williams) surfed all the way from Hawaii on a tsunami.

Born in 1934, Denny Miller starred in a beach-boy version of Tarzan in 1959, and did some other movies and tv series (you can see him jump into bed with Peter Sellers in The Party, 1968).  In the 1990s he was the rugged fisherman character on Gorton's commercials.  But even today, on his official website, the most popular signed photo is of Duke Williams bringing a moment of muscular joy to millions of people trapped in cold Midwestern winters.

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