I like to serve up little photo essays from time to time, each with a bit of a theme (be it April Showers, May Flowers or Scary Hair.) I'm continuously on the lookout for (what I consider to be) rare or unusual pictures that may be of interest to Underworld visitors or just myself. I also try to pepper the photos with useless nuggets of trivia whenever possible.
When I did one of these on headpieces earlier this year, I had to acknowledge that my affection for those probably stemmed from having grown up reading DC and Marvel comic books where some of the heroes and heroines sported accoutrements on their noggins. Another favorite hero of mine as a child was Green Arrow, a wealthy, blonde, goateed archer who shot trick arrows that involved everything from entrapping nets to noxious gas that sprung out after having been launched. His real name was Oliver Queen, which may have been another reason why I was fond of him! LOL (He was also frequently depicted by artists Neal Adams and Mike Grell in rather sexy way, neither of whose art happens to be shown here, though.)
Anyway, even without my fondness for Green Arrow, I think I would still enjoy this latest round of photos and I hope you do, too. Today, we're taking aim at a few folks who were photographed with bows and arrows.
During the research for my post on The Conqueror, I came up with this shot of Mr. John “Genghis Khan” Wayne readying a fiery arrow for use against one of his enemies. Even then, I was quasi-planning to do a post about bows and arrows, so I held onto it for today. (Sometimes, this doesn't work out! See my recent Potpourri entry...) For more on the biographical debacle called The Conqueror, you can click on the title on the list to the right.
A far more successful film was 1938's The Adventures of Robin Hood. (The character of Green Arrow obviously took some degree of inspiration from this classic.) The series of pictures here include Mr. Errol Flynn working on sharpening the tips of his arrows, with the aid of archery coach Howard Hill. Hill worked with Flynn many hours to perfect his marksmanship with a bow. Sadly, for some of the California wildlife anyway, Flynn was eventually able to score hits on some of the local beasts such as this poor bobcat. Always an adventurous and outdoorsy sort of man, he was eager to take part in vigorous sports in and out of the bedroom. I'm gonna have to chalk up this hunting exercise as an example of less enlightened and considerate times with regard to animal endangerment and preservation. Good God, there's even blood dripping down the rock! Now I'm wondering if the deer he carries into the banquet hall on his shoulders during the film was real!
Several people have played Robin Hood, from Kevin Costner to Russell Crowe to mention later ones, but to many people, Flynn represents THE Robin of Locksley (aka – Loxley.) Though I have never been fond of the wig he was given for the film, to me there are few things more beautiful than Errol Flynn in 1938 and '39 (The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex) Technicolor. As shown here, he also used a bow and arrow while yachting on his infamous boat The Sirocco, in this case hunting marlin. One of my earliest posts here was about Errol, who was a fascinating (and unfairly maligned) figure.
Another of the many Robin Hood portrayers was handsome Irish actor Richard Todd. Here, he's shown stretching his archery skills during the making of The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men in 1952. (Relating to nothing, Flynn played opposite Bette Davis in Elizabeth and Essex when she first played Elizabeth I while Todd played opposite her in The Virgin Queen when she played the role the second time, seventeen years later!) Not to start in on the “he died” thing again, but Mr. Todd lived until the surprising age of ninety when cancer claimed him in 2010. He'd been making the occasional British TV appearance until not too long before that.
The saga of Robin Hood isn't the only fertile place to find shots of men and their archery equipment. Another place is the Tarzan films, always favorite movies here because of the multitude of masculine skin that is on display. Here we have Gordon Scott (Mr. Vera Miles at the time) letting one fly during a practice session. But you and I both know that Tarzans don't belong all dressed up like that. They are supposed to be decked out in a loincloth and nothing else! So, here you go... Scott is shown here in his King of the Jungle get-up, sporting a brawny chest and a wasp waist, the look of the day for body builders of the 1950s.
I can rarely resist throwing in a shot of Lex Barker, shown below, who I wish would have been able to shoot a Tarzan movie in color. As he's sporting a bow and arrow in his hand, he gets to join in today's fun.
The most famous Tarzan of all was Johnny Weissmuller. Here, he's shown with Johnny Sheffield who played “Boy” and who grew up before filmgoers' eyes into a young man. I have to be a little careful here because occasionally I inadvertently draw pedophiles to this site, but Sheffield is almost full grown in this shot. Once, he departed the Tarzan franchise, Sheffield embarked on a whole new line of films (that were nevertheless quite similar to the previous ones) as Bomba, The Jungle Boy. He continued in those movies for a total of a dozen in all and was very amiable, appealing and eventually downright hunky! In 1955, he retired from the screen at age twenty-four. In time, he gained quite a bit of weight, which was a shock to those who knew him as such an incredibly built and athletic youth (but such a thing does happen to some body builders when they cease working out!) He died at the age of seventy-nine of a heart attack brought on by a fall from a ladder while pruning a tree. He'd been married to the same wife since 1959 and left behind three grown children.
Sometimes a lady will get in on the archery action, even if just for a photo shoot and not a movie. The elegant 1930s star Carole Lombard is shown here in a bias-cut satin gown, readying herself to fire. Lombard was known for her rollicking screwball comedies, but was also an extremely solid dramatic actress as well. She could damn near do anything, though she was taken from us far too early (in 1942) when a plane she was travelling in crashed into the side of a mountain. I cringe when I think that anyone would get his or her impression of her from the ghastly 1976 bio-pic Gable and Lombard rather than from her terrific movies. Fortunately, TCM helps keep her, and others like her, work alive so that we can see it for ourselves now.
Miss Sharon Tate didn't do the firing of the bow in 1966s Eye of the Devil (nor did she get to even use her own speaking voice in the film!), but David Hemmings is on hand for that task. The two played mysterious and deceptive siblings who are steeped in the art of witchcraft. The target on the receiving end of this arrow is the film's star Deborah Kerr! I shouldn't have to remind anyone of the horrible way Miss Tate's life ended, but during the time she was here, she was one of the most beautiful women to be found on a cinema screen. This was her first movie (and is not a very good photo of her, I'm afraid!)
Speaking of arrows, there was a famous 1950 western called Broken Arrow about Cochise. In 1956, a television series of the same name was developed with the role of Cochise (that had been played in the movie by Jeff Chandler to great acclaim) going to Michael Ansara. The series ran for two years. Ansara was born in Syria to parents of Egyptian heritage and went on to marry Barbara Eden in 1958. (He guest-starred three times on I Dream of Jeannie, always in a different role.) Sadly, he and Eden divorced in 1974 after enduring a terrible stillbirth pregnancy. Even more sadly, their only child (the only child either of them ever had) died in 2001 at the age of thirty-five of a drug overdose. Next year, Mr. Ansara will turn ninety!
Former UCLA football star and decathlete-turned-actor Woody Strode is the man with the bow this time (and it's rigged with dynamite that he is lighting with his cigar!) A 6' 4” tower of muscle, he kicked around as a wrestler and a stuntman before starting to earn more substantial roles in films (notably Spartacus, in which he was a gladiator.) He also had the title role in the John Ford film Sergeant Rutledge, which led Ford to cast him three more times as he considered Strode a favorite person of his. (Strode had also appeared briefly in Ford's 1939 classic Stagecoach at the dawn of his film career.) Amazingly, his birth name was Woodrow Wilson Woolvine Strode!
I found this picture of 1950s adventure actor Tony Curtis, whose early films often contained a sword, sandal or Medieval element. What eyes, what lips and what a head of hair he had in his day. He's got the right idea doing his target practice shirtless. (You didn't really think I was going to trudge through this post with nothing but a bunch of buttoned-up men yanking on the strings of their bows, did you?)
One of the gays' favorite cinema hunks is 1940s and '50s actor Guy Madison. A beautiful man enlisted in the Coast Guard during WWII, who then rose to fame from playing a bit role in 1944's Since You Went Away, he was such an audience favorite based on that part that he parlayed it into a lengthy career in films. His initial lack of acting talent meant that he had to be cast in more action-oriented than cerebral roles, with westerns becoming a frequent genre of his.
Here he is again on the archery range, looking as lean, handsome and humpy as ever. Madison kept working up until the late '80s, but in time suffered from emphysema and had to retire. He passed away from the disease in 1996 at the age of seventy-four. Married to actress Gail Russell from 1949 to 1954 and to bit actress Sheila Connelly from 1954 to 1964 (during which she bore him four children!), he nevertheless has always been speculated about as bi- or homosexual. (The fact that carnivorous agent Henry Willson is the one who spotted him and developed his career, along with Madison's best friend Rory Calhoun, certainly did nothing to deflect such talk.)
When it comes to chests, it's hard to outdo that glorious man-mountain Clint Walker. Walker is best known for starring on Cheyenne from 1955 to 1963 and for headlining several movies, mostly westerns, during his stint with Warner Brothers. Mr. Walker is eighty-four now and retired, but still writes and makes occasional visits to nostalgia shows, conventions and so forth. He's been featured here a time or two, so you can click on his name in the column on the right to find out more on him and to see more pictures of his treasure chest!
Before William Shatner played Captain Kirk on Star Trek, he portrayed Alexander the Great in a failed TV pilot based on the famed conqueror. Filmed in 1964, it didn't wind up seeing the light of day until 1968 when his name was far better known. Here, he is shown practicing his skills with a bow and arrow while on location, a motorcycle temporarily standing in for his horse and his pale torso helping to serve as a reflector to keep him from being lost in the outlands.
Prior to becoming a big-time action movie superstar (and long before he served as the governor of California), Arnold Schwarzenegger was a famous body builder. Arnie, in that capacity, was seen very frequently in little trunks (some far skimpier than these, actually.) Looking at him in this photo, he isn't nearly as huge and bulky as we tend to think of him in his musclebound days, though his right thigh is looking pretty sizeable.
I didn't have an absolute ton of these bow and arrow shots, but felt that I had scrounged together enough of them to warrant a small post. What really inspired it, though, is what I am about to share next. Regular readers will remember my trip to Bloomington, Indiana a little while back to see the 1927 silent film Sunrise on the big screen. When I wrote about it, I extolled the virtues of its male lead, Mr. George O'Brien, along with providing several flattering pictures of him. What better way to wrap up this post than with a quartet of shots of Gorgeous George wielding a bow and arrow while posing artistically in a variety of poses. To find a hunk of the silent era who is this beautifully fit and strangely contemporary-looking is rare indeed. (Some other portraits of O'Brien look as if they could have been taken days ago.) He was less made up than many and more natural (or, as in this case, au naturel!) Many of you wanted to see more of him, so here he is!