Apr 4, 2017

Vince Edwards: from Nude Model to TV Doctor

Speaking of Chad Everett, Boomer kids in the early 1960s could watch another beefcake-heavy medical drama: Ben Casey (1961-66), with Vince Edwards as the original young, idealistic surgeon butting heads with an older establishment figure (Sam Jaffe).   The opening was somewhat heterosexist, with Sam Jaffe saying "man, woman, birth, death, infinity," and the plotlines lacked homoerotic subtexts, but Vince Edwards had a dark, intense face and beefy forearms (accentuated by a large gold watch) that attracted gay boys and their heterosexual gal pals.

The program had quite a large preteen fanbase: there were Casey comic books, trading cards, hospital play sets, board games, and cereal premiums.

Born in 1928, Vince Edwards started out as a physique model (there are some fully nude photos roaming around the internet), and played one of the first bodybuilders in the movies, in Mr. Universe (1951).

Other beefcake movies followed, including Hiawatha (1952) and Island Women (1958), but mostly he played thugs, heavies, cops, and regular guys on the wrong side of the law.  At the same time, he embarked on a brief singing career.

After Ben Casey, Vince paid his respects to the spy genre with Hammerhead (1968), and to the war genre with The Devil's Brigade (1968), but he spent most of his time in tv movies, again playing mostly heavies, escaped convicts and the psychopath next door.

In 1983, he starred as a Han Solo clone in Space Raiders, with 13-year old David Mendenhall taking the place of Luke Skywalker.

The Return of Ben Casey (1988) was the pilot for a potential tv series, but it didn't get picked up.

He also directed episodes of The Hardy Boys, Battlestar Galactica, BJ and the Bear, and The Fall Guy.

Given his past in nude physique modeling, one wonders if Vince Edwards had a connection to the gay subculture of 1950s Hollywood.  He was married four times, so unlikely to be gay in real life, and he had an ongoing feud with fellow tv doctor Richard Chamberlain (who was gay but closeted at the time).

The nude photos are on Tales of West Hollywood.

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