Mar 21, 2013

Michael Blodgett and the Homophobic 1960s

From the neck up, Michael Blodgett in the 1960s looked exactly like a girl, or what the kids in my junior high called a "fairy": long blond hair in a girlish pouf, thick eyeliner-enhanced eyebrows, heavy eyelids, pert nose, delicate cheekbones.  Put him in a dress, and he could sing "Life is a Cabaret" at a 1960s drag bar with no further enhancements.

His feminine features did not prevent him from getting cast in a wide variety of roles, including comedy, drama, and horror.  He specialized in nude and semi-nude scenes, perhaps so his muscles could assure the audience that he wasn't a drag king.  Of particular interest to gay fans:

1. Meet Me in St. Louis (1966), a remake of the Judy Garland classic, with Shelley Fabares playing turn-of-the century Esther and Michael playing her gay-vague crush, John Truitt.

2. Catalina Caper (1967), a beach movie with teens in swimsuits, including the recently outed Tommy Kirk. You can see it razzed on MST3K.

3. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970).  A homophobic sleaze-fest (written by film critic Roger Ebert) about three girls who come to Hollywood to make it big, only to be mired down in sleaze.  There are lesbian stereotype villains, and Michael Blodget in a leopard skin jockstrap.

4. There was a Crooked Man (1970).  Men in prison, Old West style.  There are gay men of a simpering, mincing homophobic stereotype sort. Michael's mascara runs, and he gets flogged, if you like that sort of thing.

5.The Ultimate Thrill (1974). The Most Dangerous Game on the ski slopes of Vail, with a homoerotic subtext (though Michael's not involved in it).

Michael retired from acting after Disco Fever (1978), which sounds horrible, and settled down to become a writer, with several screenplays, including Turner and Hooch, Run, Rent-a-Cop, as well as a number of adventure novels. He was married four times, most recently to lesbian actress Meredith Baxter.  He died in 2007.

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