George Burns and Gracie Allen spent years on Vaudeville and in movies about George being exasperated by Gracie's daffiness, but anxious to date her anyway. They moved into radio in 1932, and onto television in 1950, playing "themselves" in The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. They were technically famous comedians who had celebrity friends and occasionally had to go down to the studio to film something, but otherwise they had "ordinary" problems like a burnt roast or a late car payment.
Attuned to growing numbers of teenagers in the potential audience, the duo added their real-life son Ronnie to the cast in October 1955, and made him gay.
Paul Newman and James Dean). He expressed a haughty disdain for his parents' lowbrow comedy, and briefly changed his name to Cobb Cochran, a parody of the macho name changes that casting agent Henry Willson mandated for his stable of gay, bi, or gay-friendly clients (Rock Hudson, Ty Hardin, and so on).
He had an ongoing "friend," fellow actor Jim Boardman (Hart Sprager), with whom he took an apartment in the bohemian Greenwich Village.
It was always a misunderstanding: the two were rehearsing a play, or the girl was confiding in Ronnie about her boyfriend problems.
The gay Ronnie lasted for only about a season and a half. In the spring of 1957, for unknown reasons, he suddenly became an ordinary college student, with a new best friend, Ralph (the very bulge-worthy Robert Ellis, also seen on Meet Cloris Archer). Both were obsessively girl-crazy.
Trying to quash the gay rumors, George arranged for his son to become a "heterosexual" teen heart-throb like Ricky Nelson, but he only recorded one song, "She's Kinda Cute" (1958), which didn't chart. He got little exposure in teen magazines, just this article that insists that he is a "real regular guy," not. . .um. . .you know, gay.
When the series ended, Ronnie starred in Happy (1960-61) and Anatomy of a Psycho (1961), and a few other projects. So closely aligned were tv personalities with their characters that he was the subject of gay rumors throughout his life. He never made any public statements, but he wasn't part of the 1950s gay Hollywood scene, and he had two long-term marriages.
See also: Robert Ellis.
Feb 28, 2015
Feb 26, 2015
15 More Beefcake Stars of "Fringe"
But at least there's substantial beefcake, a never-ending parade of musclemen in guest roles. We're up to Season 4.
1. Episode 1: Neither Here Nor There: FBI Agent Peter (read: Mulder) has saved the two parallel universes from imploding, but he's been erased from history, leaving his father, Walter, and True Love, Olivia (read: Scully), with inexplicable gaps in their lives. Meanwhile swishy gay-stereotype agent Lincoln Lane (Seth Gabel) is distraught over the death of his partner, played by the hunky Joe Flanagan.
2. Episode 2: One Night in October: Lincoln Lane joins the Fringe Team to investigate paranormal phenomena, and gets a crush on Olivia. Not gay -- no surprise there. They try to stop a serial killer. Underwear model Daniel Arnold (left) plays Agent Perez.
4. Episode 4: Subject 9 is the muscular Cameron James (Chadwick Boseman, left), who can manipulate electromagnetic energy. Once on a date he pulled a girl's fillings out of her teeth.
6. Episode 6: And Those We Left Behind. The mystery involves Raymond, an electrical engineer, and his wife. (Remember the "My wife! My wife! My wife!" mantra?). But look for the muscular Chad Riley as an FBI Agent.
I don't have time to cover all of the underwear models and bodybuilders on the series, so let's fast forward.
More after the break.
10. Episode 13: A Better Human Being. Peter and Olivia investigate a mental patient who appears to be orchestrating murders. Stuntman and caveman Colby Chatard (left) plays Silbiger.
12. Episode 16: Nothing As It Seems. Lincoln (remember him?) is infected with a mysterious virus. At least this one doesn't make your head explode. Daniel Cudmore (left) plays Daniel Hicks.
It almost makes the disgusting head-explosions of the Serial Killer of the Week worthwhile.
But not the incessant chant of "aren't you glad gay people don't exist?"
See also: 12 Beefcake Stars of "Fringe"; Comparing "Fringe" and "How I Met Your Mother"; and Prime-Time Dramas Think You Don't Exist.
Feb 23, 2015
March 24, 1975: Mitzi and a Hundred Guys
I don't know who Mitzi is, but anything with a hundred guys is going on my DVR List.
Just kidding -- in those days you watched it in real time or not at all. So I plop myself in front of the tv. My parents are surprised that I want to see something with "singing and dancing" in it; usually I hate variety shows.
There's a lot of singing and dancing, interspliced with comedy skits like Carol Burnett. But the hundred guys make up for the tedium.
Hot guys that I know.
Hot guys that I don't (such as Rich Little, left).
Ugly guys that I know.
Ugly guys that I don't.
But the highlight is Mitzi crooning the Irving Berlin torch song "Always" while bodybuilders in jock straps surround her.
At least, I remember jock straps. But, thanks to the internet, I see that they were wearing white pants. And I can identify them.
The Coca Cola Kid
Two or three 12-ounce cans or one 20-ounce bottle per day.
That doesn't strike me as much. But:
1. Every time I am invited to dinner at someone's house, I have to bring my own. Nobody else that I know drinks it.
2. Every person I have ever met, without exception, has informed me that I shouldn't drink it because aspertame causes cancer in lab rats. Usually they say this the first time they see me with a can. I always say "Really? I had no idea! This is the first time I've ever been told this -- today!"
By the way, that's an urban legend. Aspertame does nothing to lab rats, or to humans. Your stomach breaks it down into aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol, which we consume all the time in organic foods such as meat and milk.
The problem is, Coke advertising overwhelmingly features attractive young ladies, trying to draw in straight men with the promise that "If you drink Coke, you'll get laid."
The only time you see guys alone are in humorous ads. Or creepy ones. The psychotic Sprite Boy was introduced in 1941 to force people to use the four-syllable "Coca-Cola" instead of their preferred "Coke."
But their knees are touching, anyway.
But during the Super Bowl, Coke broadcast a new commercial showing people of various races and religions engaging in wholesome activities while drinking Coke. Among them were gay dads teaching their daughter to bowl.
See also: Lucky Vanous, the Diet Coke Guy.
The Mystery of Cavelo
I was particularly drawn to two albums from Zeus Studios featuring wordless comics drawn by someone named Cavelo:
The Cavelo Portfolio (1979).
He drew buffed, fully nude men in mild bondage and S&M situations, usually in the historic past: ancient Rome, the old West, the French foreign legion.
There was no sex, no activity of any sort. Cavelo always depicted the men in the moment before.
He published three albums, plus cartoons and illustrations in six issues of Drummer magazine, all between 1978 and 1985. A limited repertoire, compared to his contemporaries, Sean and Tom of Finland.
Then his work ended, leaving fans to wonder: where did this spectacular beefcake artist come from? Where did he go?
Thirty years later, they are still wondering.
We know only that he lived in Los Angeles, and his real name was Leon Carvalho.
There's a Leon Carvalho living in Los Angeles today, a marine recruiter. Probably not the same one.
See also: Tom of Finland; Sean and the World of Gay Leathermen
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