Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Throwing in the Towel...

Surely you didn't think that the title of this post meant that I was closing down The Underworld...? I admit it is increasingly difficult to get pictures and articles completed in a timely manner and manage to get them posted, but I try my best. I have several fun things in the pipeline and I promise to get them out here as soon as I can. This is one of the busiest months of my life (one trip, two conventions and a birthday!) For now, we're going to jump back into things with one of my favorite subjects, men wearing hardly anything. Yes, we're throwing in the towel!

As early as 1932 (and, for all I know, before that) the cinema has offered us glimpses of male stars in towels. This shot is of Joel McCrea in The Sport Parade. He's on the left with pal William Gargan on the right.
Through the years, many, many movie stars have taken a turn before the screen in a bath towel. Here, Rock Hudson is shown that way in an early publicity portrait.
Of course there are also the now-legendary series of shots that had Hudson, Tony Curtis, Scott Brady, John Bromfield and Hugh O'Brian enjoying a day of steam, cards, massages, shaving and other fun at the Finlandia Baths in 1950. Click for here a link to the magazine article and more photos (be sure to click “continue” at the bottom of the first page.)
Beefy Victor Mature wraps up in a towel here.
Singer/actor Pat Boone was photographed in the 1950s indulging in a day of physical activities, followed by a (slightly crowded) steam. He was also captured taking a shower, but you'll have to wait for April to see any of that (or look for him in the Life magazine online photo archive.)
1956's Bus Stop had Don Murray cavorting in a tiny little towel. He's shown here with Arthur O'Connell.
Cary Grant wore a towel in North by Northwest (1959) and (I believe) That Touch of Mink (1962.) Here he trots down the steps, still showing off a fit physique while pushing sixty.
And here he's shown exiting his dressing room/trailer.
The aforementioned Tony Curtis is another frequent towel-wrapper. He's shown below in Mister Cory (1957), with Charles Bickford in the middle in a robe (and perhaps Nesdon Booth on the right?)...
...and again here in 40 Pounds of Trouble (1962) with costar Kevin McCarthy.
One of the hottest men to parade around in a towel was Mr. Hugh O'Brian in 1965's Love Has Many Faces. It must be said, though, that he outshone even this look with the minuscule swimsuit he sported at various other points in the movie. Evidence of that and more can be found elsewhere in The Underword such as here and here.
I do believe my own fixation with towels came from watching The Towering Inferno in 1974 at age four and seeing Paul Newman splayed onto the bed in his office wearing a burnt orange (how appropriate!) towel and nothing else.
My seven year-old mind was like, "WOW..." at the very idea of decadently stripping down at work and lolling around on a bed half-naked, drinking, etc... (I'm in the wrong profession, I think!  LOL)
Of course, years before, Newman had demonstrated a far more muscular and lean physique when he spent a considerable amount of time in a towel during 1963's The Prize.
As a scientist caught up in an espionage plot, he finds himself stuck in a meeting of nudists (!) and escapes without the clothes on his back, just a towel.
What a difference eleven years can make in the cut of a person's physique. He's downright chiseled here, but by Inferno was in far more average physical shape (not to mention nearly fifty years old!)
Another actor good for a towel shot was Sean Connery, seen here in his 007 guise of James Bond (in From Russia with Love, 1963.)
Here his is in the same movie pointing his weapon at costar Daniela Bianchi.
One of Connery's costars in From Russia with Love also got shucked down to a teeny towel. No, I'm not referring to Lotte Lenya (who is deliciously nasty as KGB agent Rosa Klebb.) I mean Robert Shaw, in perhaps his finest hour physically.
Later, in The Anderson Tapes (1971), Connery was still showing off his furry chest (and arms... and legs!) in a towel. Bonus point if you can identify his pal sitting on the bench next to him. It might help you to picture him with his hair blown straight back, the way its been almost exclusively since then!
In 1973's Westworld, Richard Benjamin got a nasty surprise while garbed in only a towel and had to fight back with his six-shooter.
Now we come to a little photo essay from the 1975 John Wayne film Brannigan. In it, there's a rather elaborate kidnapping involving John Vernon. (You might recall him as Dean Wormer in Animal House, 1978.) First, we see Vernon at a men's gym exiting a sauna whereupon he drops his towel in order to take a dive into a small pool.
Next, he makes the dive, naked and without the benefit of a stunt or body double, and swims across the pool where a stack of clean towels is waiting for him. From here, he heads to the massage table in the next room.
At the table, he is getting a big, soapy, smack-down when suddenly he is chlorophylled and tossed, unconscious and nude, into a laundry cart. He's smuggled out of the club to be held for ransom. I found it interesting that, even though he isn't really my type, that Vernon filmed these revealing, albeit brief, scenes.
Let's flip on the TV for a moment. You know, for as scandalous as its reputation was at the time, the TV series Peyton Place (1964) offered precious little skin, at least in its early days. Ryan O'Neal, who had worked on TV some before this, but who parlayed his role on this show to a very successful film career, obliged on one occasion anyway. He was shown in a towel while getting ready one morning and chatting up his on-screen brother Christopher Connelly. I am not a fan of Mr. O'Neal's personality, but there's really no denying his physical appeal when he was in his prime.
In one of my posts on April showers, I gave you Dynasty's Geoffrey Scott hosing off as Joan Collins is knocking at the door. Now, I give you Scott (circa 1983) in a towel as he assesses his visitor and eventually decides to whip it off and reveal his everything to her!
One of TV's “chests o'death” that was part of my teen viewing experience belonged to Tom Selleck of Magnum, P.I. (1980-1988.) Shown here with costar Roger E. Mosley, the gentlemen find their sauna experience interrupted by some gunmen.
Next comes Moonlighting's Bruce Willis, prior to his career as a movie star, camping it up in a towel. That show ran from 1985-1989 and was riddled with problems between its egomaniacal stars for practically the entire time.
It became fashionable in the '80s for models and young actors to pose for posters in ripped jeans, shorts and, as in this case, towels. Billy Hufsey (of Days of Our Lives and Fame) was a flavor of the month who hit it big for a while (not for me, sadly, as I was never drawn to long hair on men, especially mullets or bi-levels.)
Someone who, to my mind, should have gone far further in his career than his did was Brian Bloom. Those eyes, those eyes! He went a step further than just a poster and posed in Playgirl magazine, though his photos weren't nude, just skimpy, like this towel pose. A highly-popular Emmy winner for his role as Dusty on As the World Turns, he refused to be typed as a soap opera stud and has endeavored to branch out as far away from that realm as possible.
Not a lot has changed when it comes to good-looking men showing off their wares. Former soap stud Eddie Cibrian (ex-husband of current The Real Housewifes of Beverly Hills participant Brandi Glanville) was kind enough to pose for some shots clad only in a towel.
Oh, what the hell...
How about a couple of sports figures. They're often good for a towel shot. Legendary baseball player Ted Williams demonstrates his powerful swing while clad only in a towel.
Football powerhouse Big Jim Brown is congratulated by famed coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in the locker room after a game.
Fellow football hero-turned-actor Joe Namath (who has his own tribute here elsewhere) is shown during a the filming of a shampoo commercial rather than in the locker room.
Excitable hockey star Mark Messier greets TV icon Gary Coleman while wearing one itsy-bitsy towel.
In honor of the now-happening Olympics, I give you U.S. gymnastic medalist-turned-(semi)actor Mitch Gaylord, draped in a towel.
In fact, on the subject of Olympics, recent (rather controversial) medal-winner Ryan Lochte has already been photographed in a towel wearing his prize.
Segueing back to the movies, I give you one of the cinema's prettiest actors ever, Mr. Rob Lowe. Here, he is shown getting dry after a shower in 1983's The Outsiders.
That same year, Richard Gere starred in the American remake of Breathless and not only filmed a semi-nude shower scene, but was shown in a towel as seen here.
The 1985 teen comedy Just One of the Guys had Joyce Hyser as a girl posing as a boy at a nearby school in order to combat sexism in the field of journalism. She feigns a condition in order to get out of gym class, but is then put in charge of issuing towels to all the naked male students emerging from the shower after class. (The very notion of students showering after class these days is a simultaneously foreign and hot-button topic, but in the day it was common.)
Stewardess School (1986) had Happy Days' Donny Most (prestigiously billing himself as Donald Most in this tacky, campy piece of schlock!) and Brett Cullen as two of only three male enrollees in the title institution. They're shown in towels as they search in vein for the men's shower room.
1994's Color of Night gave the world various shots of Bruce Willis, some more flattering than others. In one scene, he and costar Jane March are seen lounging by the pool in only towels. Depending on the aspect ratio of the print one sees, you can sometimes get a quick glimpse underneath his towel as he gets up.
Once-popular actor Craig Sheffer showed off a pretty impressive physique in 1997's Bliss and sported a loosely-tied towel at one point (as well as a rather unfortunate hairdo.)
In the 2001 sequel Rush Hour 2, Chris Tucker got into the act during a fight scene (costar Jackie Chan is shown with him in the pink robe.)
It's not unusual to see Ewan McGregor wearing absolutely nothing in quite a few of his films, but in 2003's Down with Love, a rehash of the (far superior in my opinion) Rock Hudson-Doris Day comedies of the 1960s, he wore a towel.
Broadway and film star Hugh Jackman takes a golf swing wearing only a towel here.
This wasn't meant to be an all-inclusive list of gents in towels, more of a cross-section. Perhaps I'll return to the subject again sometime if I come across more evidence. I think I've just about dried up everything I have on it for now! Ha! I leave you with this frolicsome shot from 1970's The Strawberry Statement, with one college student snapping his towel at another in a very snug and crowded locker room!

6 comments:

joel65913 said...

Nice post, perfect for summer. That's Christopher Walken with Sean Connery of course in his less scary youth. Some very fine men, Joel McCrea was incredibly choice when he was young and happily often scantily clad at least in his pre-code films. I remember that scene well from The Prize, a great movie with a terrific cast which I've come to enjoy more and more through the years. However it was one of the first movies I saw when I was young that objectified a good looking man like that, and Paul Newman in his prime made that easy.

Rob said...

Oh HELL yeah, Joel McCrea! Along with Gary Cooper and Randolph Scott, easily one of the hottest actors from the good old days.
Agreed about Brian Bloom. Though not my type he was (is?) just about perfect. Wonder what he's up to now?

Poseidon3 said...

You'll both be glad to know that Joel McCrea is someone who will be profiled here in the future. He's not in the torpedo bay just yet, but definitely being made ready! ;-) Thanks for commenting!

Chellis610 said...

While you're at it, how about Joel's son Jody of the "Beach Party" franchise? That boy was BUILT!!!

NotFelixUnger said...

Sean C., Tom S., Hugh J., in that order. PERFECT. Thank you!

If we could only work Clint Walker into that line life would be complete...

MaleCeleb said...

How neat to come across your post on this subject. I have wanted to do a blog myself for yrs on Celeb men in speedos, underwear, loinclothes etc and I have a folder full of men in towels. I see you had quite a few I didn't but I have quite a bit you didn't post either. Maybe I should supply you with some for your next thread on the subject as you mentioned. THanks those were hot and I love so many of those celeb men you posted.