Friday, August 31, 2012

Going Into Labor (Day)

Wow, here it is Labor Day weekend already... In the U.S., this generally signals the end of swimming pool season. Thankfully, a friend or two may keep theirs going for a while yet, but the grand finale of lollygagging in the water and reading in the sun by the pool is definitely on the horizon. To punctuate the occasion, I'm going to share with you some more pictures of male celebrities in their swimwear. (Above right we have cutie-pie Gregory Harrison.) There's quite an array here and hopefully some shots you've never seen before!

You might recall a recent post I did that featured various vintage teen magazine covers. I held this one back because I knew it would be appropriate for this post. Teen “heartthrob” Leif Garrett is shown sporting the swimsuit of choice for the late-'70s, the Speedo!
How many of you recall watching Shazam! as a kid? The Saturday morning series is pretty agonizing to sit through now, but at the time it was fun.  Michael Gray played young Billy Batson who with the words "Shazam!" would transform temporarily into the older, stronger Captain Marvel.  Gray was far more covered-up on the show than he is here. He exited the biz in 1976 after Shazam! ended and now operates a florist business with the wife he marred when he was forty-three. He is sixty-one now.

In doing arduous research for this post, I happened upon pictures (and accompanying articles) on two other teen stars wearing Speedos. I had never heard of either one before this! Up first is Christopher Franklin. Whatever small role he had in the exploitation flick Mag Wheels (1978) isn't even credited at and his part in Blood Beach (1980) had to have been nearly as small. These both being R-rated movies, he would have had to have parental accompaniment to even go see them! His next outing was the prestigious 1984 outing Hollywood Hot Tubs with his fourth and final role coming in 1988's Saturday the 14th Strikes Back, a cheesefest starring Ray Walston, Avery Schreiber and Patty MacCormick!

This next young man, Anthony Cistaro, had done the TV-movie Lady of the House (with Dyan Cannon) at the time of this article, but then disappeared from screens for quite a long while, concentrating on the theatre. When he came back, all grown up, he maintained a steady career as a TV and movie actor from the late-'80s to 2010, guest-starring on Cheers, Seinfeld, Angel, Friends, Charmed, Nip/Tuck and even costarring in the 2001-2002 series Witchblade. It's startling to see the way these young men were depicted back then and I almost didn't post these pictures, but after all, they're from mainstream “legitimate” publications! (And I'm not even going to make a joke about John Travolta moving over!)

Another teen magazine staple was Scott Baio. Like several others in his age group at the time, he was called upon to don a Speedo for the television specials called Battle of the Network Stars. You can see by his tan lines that he most often wore more traditional trunks, but, luckily for viewers, no one on these specials was given a choice in the matter. You wore a team-colored Speedo for all water events and that was that!

Other shots in this post that stem from Battle include a young Mark Harmon...
...and two of Dynasty's John James. Here, he's seen conferring with team member William Shatner, who employs a t-shirt to help obscure his exposed body.
Most shocking to me about this one is the fact that he's fresh out of the pool after a strenuous swimming relay and is smoking! I knew that he smoked all through his career, but he deftly covered it up almost completely in public for whatever reason (and this was long before so much legislation about it came down the pike.)
In the mid-'80s, when the suit's popularity was starting to wane, one most often found the suit on European stars. Here we have a rather scowling George Michael, captured by the lens for Teen Beat magazine.
After that, it was even harder to come by the Speedo and it was practically unheard of in America, unless wearing one was part of a sporting event. Still, the occasional guy (like once-hot romance novel cover model Fabio) slid one on. I believe this picture is from before the time he broke a wild goose's neck with his face while riding on a speeding roller-coaster. (Yes, it happened!)
In 2009, Jerry O'Connell comedically attempted to bring the Speedo back by posing for a variety of photos wearing nothing but.
We're still not ready for it (if we ever will be)...
...but he looked cute nonetheless!
Of course, even before the Speedo, swimsuits had been rather snug and diminutive (unlike the baggy, multi-layered monstrosities one sees on guys today.) Take '60s singing and acting idol Bobby Sherman. Here, he reveals his love of the sun and his backyard pool, sharing a series of pictures of himself.
Most amusing to me was the strip of headshots along the bottom of this page. 1 and 2 are so similar it hardly seems worth the trouble to have printed them both! Sherman, who is now sixty-nine, retired from acting in 1986 and eventually began working as a trainer of emergency medicine to police recruits.
Sherman got his first real encouragement in the business from fellow teen idol Sal Mineo. Mineo produced two of Sherman's early songs and even gave him a set of drums. We now segue to Mineo, sporting a clingy swimsuit of his own in a shot from the 1965 flick Who Killed Teddy Bear.
Bodybuilder and longtime costar of the TV series Mission: Impossible Peter Lupus poses inside some sort of spa while wearing a trim pair of trunks.
Hunky singer Tom Jones looks about as good as anyone ever did in his teensy suit.
British actor Alan Bates is seen here exiting the surf in an abbreviated set of trunks.
If you've been around here a long while, you know of my affection for Hugh O'Brian. Here, he goes over his lines (possibly for the 1966 film Ambush Bay, considering the gun belt he has lying on the chaise!) while taking in some rays.
A more revealing look at Hugh, and little Hugh, (taken during the filming of 1965's Love Has Many Faces) is shown below.
If you only know Robert Stack as the portentous host of Unsolved Mysteries, you might be pleasantly surprised to see him looking young, fit and handsome here by the pool.
Likewise, those of you who only know Frank Gifford as the aged husband of blabbermouth Kathie Lee might delight in seeing him as an impossibly hunky young man.  There's much more about Frank to be found here.  (I just realized that the picture below is also at the link I just mentioned, but it's slightly better here, so I'm keeping it.)
Lean Irish actor Stephen Boyd takes in the sun, sand and surf (perhaps during the filming of 1957's Island in the Sun?)
As far as I'm concerned, Burt Lancaster was never more sexy or handsome than in 1953's From Here to Eternity.
Tony Curtis is lookin' pretty good here, too, as he lounges on the beach in a cute li'l white pair of trunks.
In a later photo (from the movie Don't Make Waves in 1967), he is rescued from the ocean by a curvaceous Sharon Tate (and might even be starting to pitch a pup tent over it. Who could blame him?)
In this shot (from 1970's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls), it almost looks like David Gurian needs to be rescued from Edy Williams! She's looking hungry. Despite the fact that he was attractive, this movie was a hit and his part was a substantial one, Gurian never made another appearance on film besides this.
Do you recognize this surprisingly hairy, in-shape and virile man working out by the pool?
Staggeringly, this is none other than that infamous Sultan of Sequins and Wrangler of Rhinestones, the ivory-tinkling pianist extraordinaire, Liberace! Who knew that under all his costumes and capes, there was such a well-toned physique?
In recent times, we still catch the occasional glimpse of something other than board shorts, but unfortunately it is most often on the bodies of overweight retired actors, singers or aged rock stars who let it all hang out. Take Rod Stewart, for example, in good shape for his age (sixty-seven), but perhaps not enough to pull this suit off.
We'll cut vision-impaired vocalist Andrea Boccelli some slack for obvious reasons.
Worse still is sixty-four year-old Aerosmith front man and American Idol judge Steven Tyler! No. Just no... (He now has the same small, rounded breasts as those of the 1970s groupies who used to follow him religiously while on tour!)
Let's wipe our eyes clean with a few shots from the 1958 Otto Preminger film Bonjour tristesse. Apart from the stunning French Riviera scenery, there is also the eye candy present when young Geoffrey Horne appears on the scene.
As the love interest of Jean Seberg, he sometimes seems as if it's too much trouble to wear anything but some skimpy trunks. (He does wear clothes in several sequences, but not too many!)
One of the few saving graces of the hideous 1989 Roseanne Barr film She-Devil is the chance to see A Martinez (as Meryl Streep's hunky houseboy) in a Speedo.
For fans of the tight, teensy trunks, few films can compare to the 1976 film Lifeguard. Though the title figures wear shorts through the bulk of the movie, there is a big competition in it during which they all have to wear Speedos. They're everywhere, in all imaginable patterns and colors, though I'm partial to the brown ones with yellow stripes.
One of the lifeguards is star Sam Elliott and kudos to him for showing off his macho body this way! There's more of Sam to see at The Underworld here.
His teammate in the yellow and green striped suit has a bit of a close-up during one of the events.
Another costar, Parker Stevenson (in red), takes part in the fun, too.
After the competition, we get a glimpse of all three of these gents standing together and they do not disappoint. I was born too late...
If you noticed the off-kilter tan lines on the men above, you might have to try going with no suit at all, like silent film legend Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and friend! The swashbuckling superstar tanned so much that occasionally his Caucasian ethnicity was called into question. He died of a heart attack at the premature age of fifty-six.

The cover is now being pulled over the deep end of this swimming-oriented post. Cross your fingers that I can cull together some more like this in time for next Memorial Day in May. In the meantime, I leave you with one very fine specimen, the hunkalicious Mexican actor Jorge Rivero. If you like him, there's plenty more to see of him here. I'm off now to yet another convention, this one a state theatre one. I'll be back with more fun soon!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Let's Go Camp-ing!

You know, this past weekend I really did go camping. Far from roughing it, like these guys, I was at a site with a gorgeous pool and a large lake (at which I watched the sun set.) While I was with friends in an air-conditioned pop-up, there were other friends – hardcore regulars there – who have a huge trailer with bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom/shower, a Keurig coffee maker and even a widescreen TV! And outside is a luscious screened-in gazebo with padded furniture, a chandelier, draped fabric stretching across the ceiling and an oscillating fan. That's my style! I call the gazebo “Jeannie's Bottle.” LOL

But, nostalgically cute as the guys above are, we really aren't going to ruminate on that sort of camping today. No, we're going to flip through some photos that I've amassed over the last few months that seem campy to me. I hope you get a kick out of them. (This is going to be another one of my infamous, disjointed efforts, I'm afraid, regardless of the fact that I try to keep things in some degree of order.)

Camp represents different things to different people. Sometimes I don't even think I truly get what it is or, if I do, I just don't know exactly how to explain it. To most people, the photo shown here would be considered campy, a 1957 movie featuring burlap-clad, cellulitic “early”-women pawing all over some hapless gent. (Looking at his face, I can totally sympathize with his pain!)

For me, campiness is just when something is meant to be taken seriously (or reasonably seriously) and winds up preposterously “off.” It's also when the particular time and the trappings of the given era stand out so much that they interfere with the intent of the art and give the piece an offbeat, loony quality. Take this 1955 shot of Miss Lana Turner, for instance. It's meant to be a legitimately enticing photo of her, barely clad and preparing to dress, but the overwhelmingly static, sterile quality of the photo (Lana looks positively waxen!), along with the garish color palette, gives it a campy quality to me.

Then there's young Robert Wagner, starring as Prince Valiant (1954), sporting the hilarious wig that he seemed never to be able to live down (he once claimed in jest that Dean Martin spoke to him for quite a while before realizing that he wasn't chatting with Jane Wyman!) While it's true that the comic strip hero that inspired this movie did have similar hair, sometimes things get lost in translation, especially when the hair is shellacked in that 1950s way. I enjoy this picture because of the way its staged inside a cross. And do check out the length of that massive sword of his!

Publicity photos in general are a decent source for camp. We all know Miss Shirley Knight as a heavyweight actress who delivers the goods almost every time she steps before the camera, but early in her career, she was forced to do the whole starlet thing, with an array of cutesy outfits, poses and props. This one in particular is a hoot, especially thanks to the way she opted to caress that rather phallic bottle.

Carol Lawrence, the original Maria of Broadway's West Side Story and later the spokesperson for General Foods International Coffee, morphed into a cabaret-style entertainer, sometimes with her then-husband Robert Goulet and sometimes not. Here, the mother of two shows off a rather impressive figure (and a kicky little jumpsuit complete with ostrich feathered hem on the legs.)

Never one to be outdone, we go from ostriches to octopus (or is it octopi?) with Miss Mitzi Gaynor. I can just picture Mitz standing with her back to the camera and then whirling around as fast as possible to get that certain effect of the strips of fabric fanning out around her. I must say, too, that she shows a tremendous sense of balance here (assuming that she didn't careen to the floor immediately after this was snapped!)

Connie Stevens can be good for some camp value, rarely more so than in this 8x10 glossy from an unknown project.  I don't think the palm trees in John Ford's The Hurricane (1939) got this much abuse!

I don't know what the occasion was for Brad Davis (of Midnight Express fame) to pose this way, but there's definitely something campy about it. A brilliant actor, he did some really fine work on stage and on screen, but wasn't able to fully overcome an abusive childhood and resultant drug addiction (and then when he eventually did, he found that he'd contracted AIDS.) Few people have lived as wild a life as Davis did, though he paid a heavy price for it when he died at only age forty-one via assisted suicide.

This publicity photo for the prime-time soap Knots Landing (1979 – 1993) features Miss Donna Mills, Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark in a three-way clinch. Their overheated expressions are somewhat amusing, but this isn't really any worse than countless other daytime soap promo pictures. What was funny to me was the decision for one of the ladies to leave a big mouth-shaped lipstick print on the bottom hem of his shirt near his crotch!

Practically the entire movie Myra Breckinridge (1970) is campy as it deals superficially and outrageously with a man (Rex Reed) undergoing a sex change into a woman (Raquel Welch) and then exacting revenge on those – and their kind - who thwarted him beforehand. One of the most memorable scenes involved Welch sexually humiliating cowboy stud Roger Herren (who possessed what columnist Joyce Haber dubbed “the butt of the century.”)
Herren, who'd only appeared briefly (and uncredited) in one prior movie, disappeared from the cinema landscape after this, but remains an object of desire among man film fans. What a handsome hunk he was!
It's a far less sexy note that we land on next, but I had to include it. Have you ever seen a more hilariously artless publicity shot in your life? Dennis Weaver's hit TV show McCloud (1970 – 1977) was all about a western sheriff transplanted to New York City, where his take-no-prisoners, good ol' boy ways confounded the established norms of the police department there. His dual worlds collide in the rudimentary artwork shown behind him.

Much ado was made over the wet t-shirt that Jacqueline Bisset sported in 1977's The Deep and that may be what inspired costar Nick Nolte to create this sand sculpture and cozy in next to it for a photo op. Note the utter lack of detail that went into the face! Far more time and energy seems to have been given to the tits...

Christopher Atkins' follow-up to 1980's star-making, but exploitive, The Blue Lagoon was the hysterically cheesy Pirates of Penzance-flavored mess The Pirate Movie (1982), with singing sensation Kristy McNichol... Here, he shows off his color-coordinated trousers and boots, while the Lagoon hairdo remains. 1983's A Night in Heaven (which had him as a college-student stripper banging his teacher Lesley Ann Warren) completed the trifecta and it was soon off to TV and lesser film projects.
When I came upon this next series of photographs, I was dumbfounded. I couldn't figure out what they were from. Based on this one, I thought maybe Barbara Eden was playing a white woman captured by Arapaho Indians.
Then I thought maybe she was a blind woman being romanced by the older, but still suave, Gene Kelly.
In this one, I wondered if she was playing a wife having to deal with her husband's brain injury.
Then I thought, were Barbara Eden and Gene Kelly paired together on The Love Boat and I didn't know it??
I'm really still not used to Babs with the top of her hair slackered down and covered with this headband. Here eyes come off as gargantuan with this look.
As it turns out, Eden and Kelly were paired in a 1970 TV special called Changing Scene. It was the first of four that Kelly did. They focused on the emerging mod movement and Kelly sang “Feelin' Groovy” while Eden warbled “Windmills of Your Mind.” Inexplicably, the finale of the special had everyone involved singing the title song from the Broadway hit “Mame!” Now if that isn't campy, I don't know what is...

Another oddball pairing (though I doubt they actually worked together but merely had their songs pressed into one recording) can be found on this cheap, cheesy album cover. I mean, have you ever, for any reason you'll admit to, connected John Davidson to George Maharis? (They did appear once at the same time on The David Frost Show in 1970, perhaps it was to promote this “album,” but I doubt it!) One of the songs Davidson sings on it is the theme from Valley of the Dolls!

Speaking of him, I ask you... WHEN will you ever come across a more heinous photo of John Davidson than this craptastical head shot? Jesus!! It's like he came in eleventh in the Tyne Daly look-alike contest.
Back to 1967's Valley of the Dolls (another film that is almost entirely camp throughout) for a minute, I thought this cartoon depiction of the female stars was fun. Put that on Saturday morning TV and I'll be there with my bowl of Trix, watching intently!
There were a few amusing publicity shots for that flick. It wasn't enough for Patty Duke to be sent to a sanitarium, she had to be placed in a bed next to a huge bottle of booze!
Even that wasn't enough. She was then photographed next to a ginormous, looming bottle of red pills (or “dolls,” if we're going to follow the terminology that author Jacqueline Susann attempted to create, but which never really caught on.)
For the incrediibly beautiful Sharon Tate, it was next to impossible for her to take a bad picture (but, oh, how they tried!)  Even a silly hairdo and an awkward pose cannot disguise her radiant loveliness.
As Anne Welles, Barbara Parkins played the most sensible of the three featured girls, though even she eventually had her problems as well. Regally elegant throughout, it is thus a shock to see these publicity photos of her cheesily dancing around.
Of course, nothing in the original comes near to being as outre as the in-name-only sequel Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), which is stuffed from end to end with weirdos and over-the-top sets, fashions and personalities. Edy Williams is shown here.
No fan of “out there” '60s cinema can afford to miss this lunatic excursion into the offbeat.
It had originally been envisioned as a true sequel to the prior film, but ultimately wound up as its own animal altogether.
The young man in the fur bikini, hogtied above, is Michael Blodgett, a once-hot actor-turned-writer who later married Meredith Baxter. They divorced in 2000 and she came out as a lesbian just under a decade later.
For the hell of it, I'm going to toss in this publicity shot from the 1981 rendition Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls with Catherine Hick's as Ann (no “e” now for whatever reason), Lisa Hartman as Neely and Veronica Hamel as Jennifer. Campy in its own right, this is actually one of the most demure representations of the project. As it wears on, we get Jean Simmons and Bert Convy in a preposterous nautical musical number and Hartman in a shocking pink, new-wave punk wig!
Heading into theaters in 1969 (after Valley of the Dolls, but before Beyond...) was another wild-looking movie called The Gay Deceivers. It concerned two draft-age young men who pretend to be gay in order to avoid being sent to Vietnam. They ultimately have to move in together (into a gay-friendly apartment complex) where the landlord and his partner (seen here) are two of the most extraordinarily stereotypical queens ever.

Played by Michael Greer (who specialized in portraying biting, bitchy types – see also Fortune and Men's Eyes from 1971) and Sebastian Brook, these two make a lot of people now, gay or straight, cringe, but at least the movie was addressing an issue that had heretofore been all but ignored in the movies and doing it in a somewhat positive way. (I didn't see it, so I can't be sure, but it's entirely possible that 2007's I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry was not a whole lot more “enlightened” than this movie made four decades prior!) Brook, by the way, (the dark-haired one on the right) had also had a small role in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

The '60s are such a great place to find campy clothing and hairdos. When Dean Martin did his series of four Matt Helm spy films, his cover was that of a men's magazine/calendar photographer, which afforded him the chance to ogle some curvaceous and amusingly done up females. Here, he meets up with twelve girls, one for each month (one of whom apparently had something in her eye that day?) along with his faithful secretary. The secretary, in the middle with the fun, brunette up-do, was a young model named Beverly Adams. But you know her better, if at all, as Beverly Sassoon, the wife of Vidal Sassoon, who was featured in many ads for his hair product line.

In this era, it was the more unusual the better, hence this model sporting a telephone bikini. Unfortunately for her, you couldn't put these types of phones "on vibrate!"
One film, Murderer's Row, had Martin working with Ann-Margret, the quick-shimmying daughter of an important figure, who gets kidnapped and held for ransom. One scene has him attempting to keep up with her on the dance floor of a way-out discotheque. Notice that the band in this scene is Dino, Desi and Billy, consisting of Dean Paul Martin, Desi Arnaz Jr (on drums) and Billy Hinsche (who could claim no show biz bloodline, but his sister was once married to a Beach Boy at least!)

Now, we head into what I'll call the Joan Collins Collection. Miss C. is one of my favorite people. The venerable 1950s actress, who was able to reinvent herself and reinvigorate her career, becoming a household name in the process, appeared in more than a few things that could be considered campy. She earned her stripes, if she didn't have them already, when she played the seething villainess Nellifer in Land of the Pharaohs in 1955.

Never one to play it safe with clothes and styling, she often embraced the latest trends in fashion, making some of her photos quite campy (but ever fun!) in retrospect. Did you think that Victoria and Angelina were the first moms to scoot around the globe with their kids while dressed to the nines?
Here, she and sister Jackie upstage the nude artwork behind them.
Dig this effing belt, bitches!
This look almost defies any caption.
There's something hilarious about a half-nude Darren McGavin and her being given direction in the 1978 flick Zero to Sixty as he struggles to keep her aloft. Meanwhile, a crew member is slinking behind a sheet of diffusing film at the nearby window.
One of Joan's least favorite projects involved working in the swampy Florida Everglades on the $2.99 creature feature Empire of the Ants (1977), a rotten, nearly-forgotten film that was dredged up to newfound popularity in 1982 when she hit it big on Dynasty.
Then we have this mightily-airbrushed promo shot for the 1984 telefilm The Cartier Affair, costarring David Hasselhoff. Just what in the name of God is going on with his arm? It looks like it belongs to Ioan Gruffudd from Fantastic Four!
When Collins was reining supreme on Dynasty, the writers got the big idea that her character, Alexis Morrell Carrington Colby Dexter, should actually become a real queen on the show! The plan was to have her marry her daughter Amanda's father-in-law, King Galen of Moldavia.
Thing was, the whole Moldavian storyline (involving Amanda's wedding to Prince Michael and having the ceremony interrupted by gun-wielding terrorists) was so unpopular that further plans of it were scrapped, leaving the sequence in the photos shown above and below (reportedly from a dream and not an actual crowning) un-aired.
This last photo is less campy than just downright hysterical, but where else was I going to use it? It's a trading card from somewhere other than the U.S. of The Big Valley's Lee Majors. Not only is it a dreadful photo, about one step above a mug shot, but he's misidentified in it. And not only is he misidentified, but the person whose name he's been given is misspelled on top of it! The first time I saw this I almost collapsed on the floor laughing, especially since there's a (somewhat) newly-coined word called “shart,” which is a combination of shit and fart and is not a very pleasant term to say the least! LOL

That's it for now. I'm packin' up my camp gear and moving on to the next subject! Be back again soon.