These old photo covers from 1950s and '60s comic books are a wondrous source for portraiture of your favorite movie and TV stars or favorite movie and shows. Often, the most obscure TV series and movies imaginable are among the titles since the licensing agreements were often done in advance before the movie tanked (or was later forgotten about by most people) or the show in question was cancelled. I mean, how many of you remember 1969 The Hardy Boys redux that had the young men solving mysteries while working undercover in a rock band?? It is especially unusual because the show was an animated Saturday morning cartoon, but the five people shown on this cover were hired to tour the country as The Hardy Boys Band, live-action versions of their animated counterparts singing songs that had been done on the show.
Camp Runamuck is another show that isn't exactly on the tongues of people any more. Running in the fall of 1965, it concerned a boys camp (Runamuck) that was on the opposite side of a lake from a girls camp called Camp Divine. Arch Johnson (shown below with Nina Wayne) was the commander of Runamuck. Pranks and "hilarity" abounded as the inhabitants of both camps interacted each week.
Comics provide a great keepsake of other, more successful shows, too, like the hit sitcom John Forsythe enjoyed years before Dynasty, Bachelor Father (1957 - 1962.)
An even greater success was the well-remembered Leave it to Beaver, which only ran for one more year than Bachelor Father (1957 - 1963.) There's so much going on with this cover from the rust-ridden wagon to the poor cat crammed in there to the hilarious caption...
Some version of Lassie aired on television from 1954 to 1974, with a variety of owners and friends joining her along the way. Here we have one of the most popular, little Jon Provost, who was her best pal from 1957 - 1964. So many of these covers, like this one, offer gorgeous, rare pictures of the performers in question.
The wildly popular Mister Ed (1958 - 1966) had his own comic, too. This one apparently concerned his dating (mating?) habits!
One of Warner Brothers most popular TV crime shows (and there was a plethora of them, in cookie-cutter form) was 77 Sunset Strip (1958 - 1964.) I love this shot of its stars Efrem Zimbalist Jr, Roger Smith (of Auntie Mame fame and Mr. Ann-Margret) and Ed Byrnes.
Follow the Sun (1961 - 1962) starred two men who've been profiled here, Barry Coe and Brett Halsey. (Brett is in the inset and Barry is the one on the right of the two men strolling. The other being Gary Lockwood. They do look cute in their trim trousers, don't they?)
1961 also brought the medical drama Ben Casey to TV screens, starring Vince Edwards as the stalwart doctor. The show lasted until 1966, robbing viewers of any further chance to see Edwards' furry forearms!
Nearly everyone loves Bewitched (1964 - 1972) and this cover has fun with the neverending conflict between Endora (Agnes Moorehead) and her son-in-law Darrin (Dick York.)
A hot spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ran from 1964 to 1968 and starred Robert Vaughn and David McCallum. Vaughn tended to get the lion's share of the comic book covers, so for something different I'm putting up McCallum (the one-time husband of Jill Ireland until Charles Bronson entered the picture!) Though he isn't my own type, he has quite a fan following of his own, actually.
Two years after its premiere, the show had a spin-off called The Girl from U.N.C.L.E, which starred a kicky Stefanie Powers in the lead, but it only lasted a season, being cancelled in 1967.
Family Affair (1966 - 1971) provided gentle laughter and an occasional tear. You can read the fascinating story of Buffy (played by the ill-fated Anissa Jones) by clicking here.
There's a fair amount of grizzled, stubbly "manitude" on this cover from The Rat Patrol (1966 - 1968.) I have never seen this show, but based on this photo alone, I think when I have time i'm going to have to look further into Lawrence Casey! (He's on the bottom left.) Christopher George is at the top and Justin Tarr is on the lower right.
Star Trek (1966 - 1969), one of the TV's most enduring science-fiction programs (which took off far more successfully after it was cancelled via reruns) was the subject of many, many comic books. Here we get to see Captain Kirk and Lt. Sulu's Starfleet uniforms in their actual color of pale olive green. For whatever reason, the material photographed more like a golden yellow on the actual series and that's the way everyone believed that they looked in real life. (Even Kirk's Mego action figure and others since have been presented as if the tunic was golden in color.)
Comics frequently came in the form of biographies back in the day, with anyone from Abraham Lincoln to John F. Kennedy and from teen star Annette Funicello to singer Brenda Lee to boxing hero Joe Louis. With all his WWII heroics, Kennedy might have made for an interesting read, but are you ready for the life story in comic book form of Lyndon Johnson?!
If that doesn't float your boat, how about the scintillating, roller-coaster life of Senator Barry Goldwater?!
This biographical comic on The Lennon Sisters was published before they were fully grown up and surrounded by an endless stream of romantic gossip with dates, boyfriends, husbands, babies, divorces and the like.
When it comes to movie adaptations, there might be one like this for a timeless classic like 1957's Old Yeller.
However, more fun are the ones from either obscure films or otherwise unusual ones. It's doubtful that too many folks (apart from Alan Ladd fans) are familiar with 1956's Santiago. This is another example of the nice star portraits to sometimes be found on these vintage covers.
If you know me, then you know I like my portraits shirtless whenever possible! Such is the case with this shot of Richard Todd in The Sword and the Rose (1953.)
That film was also called When Knighthood was in Flower and it looks as if it contained some sort of wrestling scene with one of the gentlemen shirtless. I will have to get a look at this sometime! In any case, this photo-filled cover is a great keepsake of that particular movie.
Here's Miss Sandra Dee walking her goat (!) in country bumpkin drag for 1961's Tammy Tell Me True, one of a series of sequels to 1957's Tammy and the Bachelor, which had starred Debbie Reynolds.
1965's inherently campy Die, Monster Die! starred horror legend Boris Karloff and '50s teen idol Nick Adams.
In 1961, there was the musical updating of Babes in Toyland with Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello. (There's a sort of Fisher-Price Little People bent to the toys in this scene!)
The next year brought The Three Stooges Meet Hercules. Canadian bodybuilder Samson Burke (born Samuel Burke) played the hulking Hercules.
Skipping ahead, 1979's The Black Hole was adapted into comic book form and the cover of this one appeals to my love for those "box posters" of the '70s, in which all the stars of the film appeared in little boxes on the movie's poster.
I'm going to wrap up this comparatively brief examination of comic covers with some western TV shows and stars. These are often a great way to catch some bulge action thanks to the snug pants that were favored then. My favorite western hero is Cheyenne's (1955 - 1963) Clint Walker. Even though these trousers aren't revealing, I have to put him in here because he's just such a tall, hunky drink of water.
Maverick (1957 - 1962) was a very popular western that starred James Garner and Jack Kelly (and later Roger Moore as well.) Garner was very handsome at this stage and with the show being in black and white, it's always nice to see him in color.
Running the exact same years was Tales of Wells Fargo starring ruggedly handsome Dale Robertson.
Currently enjoying a lot of airplay on broadcast TV is The Rifleman (1958 - 1963), starring Chuck Conners. The more I see this show, the more I find myself thunderstruck by the acting talent of Johnny Crawford who played his devoted young son. He was a really good child actor!
Henry Fonda and Allen Case costarred on The Deputy from 1959 - 1961.
Bonanza was a TV staple, running from 1959 to 1973. Check out this hilarious cover which inadvertently has Ben Cartwright (played by Lorne Greene) peering into the crotch of his tied-up son Little Joe (played by Michael Landon.)
Also debuting in 1959, but only lasting until 1963 was Laramie. John Smith (on the left) and Robert Fuller (on the right) starred in this one. With the way Smith's jeans are fitting, it seems hysterically vulgar to mention a "steaming geyser" directly below in the caption!
I'll be back soon, my loves, with more Underworld blatherings!