Friday, August 27, 2021

Poseidon Quickies: It's Really Cole in Here Today!

A few years ago I made a passing remark that I doubted I would ever be doing a tribute to Dennis Cole and there was a hearty round of disappointed sighs as a result! I don't know if I changed my perception of him or if I am running out of people (!) or if I just wanted an excuse to inject a little tan, blond hunkitude into the blog to celebrate recently passing the 12-year mark (on August 24th.) I never had anything against Mr. Cole, he just had not, for whatever reason, risen to the top level of my celebrity obsessions. But I was recently looking him over and thought I would share some photos of him with you today.

Born on July 19th, 1940 in Detroit, Michigan, Cole was the son of two alcoholic parents. (His father eventually committed suicide after the couple had divorced.) He sought escape in athletic pursuits and developed a strong, lean physique. Later, after moving to Los Angeles, Cole's body would be his first step on the way to notoriety.

Cole supplemented his income by posing in almost nothing for famed homoerotic photographer Bob Mizer.

The young man appeared in Physique Pictorial magazine. He also began to earn money as an extra in movies. In 1961, he was seen a young man attending a dance in The Comancheros. Married in 1960 and father to a boy the following year, it was time to make it for real.

Things began to come together for Cole in 1965 when he won a role on the daytime serial Paradise Bay, which starred Keith Andes and Marion Ross. His hair, almost white blond from the California sun, was darkened for the part.

It was with this same darkened hair color that Cole won his next role after the serial folded. In 1966, he costarred with Howard Duff on The Felony Squad. The series premiered in black & white.

Squad, which ran until 1969, eventually shifted to color and Cole reverted to his towhead of blond locks.

Cole swung from Squad right into a new prime-time series called Bracken's World, all about the inner turmoils of a fictional Hollywood studio. Seen with him here is Linda Harrison (known best as Nova from Planet of the Apes, 1968.) Note the way her dress echoes the pattern of the tree bark next to her!

Handsome Cole played not an actor on the show, but a stuntman. The series underwent creative tweaks (and the departure of its star Eleanor Parker) causing its cancellation after a season and a half. It remains, however, a sought-after collectors' item due to the people involved in it and the fashionable era in which it was made.

Ever able to land a job on TV, Cole next costarred with Rod Taylor in Bearcats!

The title referred to their vehicle, a Stutz Bearcat, while the adventuresome story took place prior to WWI. Unable to sustain a consistent audience, it was canned after 14 episodes.

Now in the early-'70s and with a few short-lived TV series under his mod belt, Cole tried a new tack with his career...

He starred in the Broadway romp All the Girls Came Out to Play in 1972.

In it, he played a composer living with a buddy named Angel. When neighbors hear him referring to his roommate as "Angel" they mistake the pair for homosexuals. This causes a stir in the apartment complex, but also leads to Cole seducing several nearby wives! His bare chest looming over some snug trousers couldn't help the piece play beyond a handful of performances.

Despite this setback, Cole epitomized the bronze California stud, with clingy polyester pants, gold necklace and shirts open to the waist. He was a busy guest star on multiple TV series like The Streets of San Francisco, Barnaby Jones, Police Story and Medical Center.

During a guest spot on Charlie's Angels, Cole (who'd gotten divorced in 1965) met and fell for Jaclyn Smith. The telegenic couple dated for over a year before walking down the aisle in 1978.

Most of the wildly popular Angels experienced severe marital difficulty while on the show and Smith was no exception. This magazine cover (trumpeting Jaclyn Smith "and her husband") illustrates the way Cole was paling career-wise next to his spouse.

By 1981, their wedded bliss was completely over. His career limping along, he tried yet another shift to reignite it.

In 1980, the hit daytime drama The Young and the Restless expanded to an hour. Popular hunk John McCook, who played Lance Prentiss, exited the show and Cole was hired to take his place in the Y&R firmament.

Though Cole's participation received plenty of promotion, his stint there was over by 1982.

Cole appeared as a guest on many 1980s series such as Fantasy Island, The Fall Guy, Trapper John, M.D., The A-Team and Simon & Simon. He also took starring parts in straight-to-video action flicks which did nothing to raise his position in Tinseltown. But he was soon to be dealt an even more horrible blow from which there was little chance of fully recovering.

In 1991, Cole's only son Joe, who was a sometime actor and a roadie with the band Hole, was living with his close pal Henry Rollins. One night, the two were held up and as Rollins attempted an escape, Joe Cole was fatally shot at close range in the face. It was a crushing experience for Rollins, but a near-crippling one for Cole.

He landed the James Garner role in the national tour of Victor/Victoria, which starred Toni Tennille, but received little to no promotion or publicity for it. In an unfortunate turn of events, he sustained an injury during the tour which took years from which to recover and called for several surgeries. I was in the second row of this show when it came to Cincinnati and it was interesting to see him (and her), but he had by then receded from the screen and his acting career was nearing its halt.

He married for a third time in 2004 and was working in Florida real estate, generally outside the world of show business, but unfortunately had slid into a period of heavy drinking. A DUI arrest in 2007 put his name in the headlines for a brief while again and this last marriage dissolved in 2008. In 2009, Mr. Cole died of liver failure at only age 69.

The fresh-faced youth who'd made a splash in L.A. had faded from the limelight. But he remains an object of interest for many lovers of classic TV. Part of the reason is his early physique pictorials, but there was also a memorable 1977 spread in the magazine Ultra.

Cole was shown showering, exercising and applying aftershave, wearing revealing white bottoms or sometimes even less than that! These tennis shorts show off plenty...

...but a little dark tint over the pic makes things even more obvious. I recently saw Mr. Cole in a season two episode of Medical Center and he was just plain striking to behold... all golden skin, pale hair and while teeth. Time (and gravity) are rarely kind to hunks of that type, and he surely dealt with some significant disappointments and tragedy along the way. Hopefully he also knew of the pleasure he provided to many fans as well.

The End!

Friday, August 20, 2021

Poseidon Quickies: This is Pretty "Good!"

Most of my regular readers know that I'm nutty for all-star casts as well as crazy for Dame Joan Collins. Yet somehow along the way, I never did see one of JC's earlier efforts, the multi-character crime drama The Good Die Young (1954.) It happened to be available for viewing not long ago and I took the opportunity to give it a look. I was gobsmacked at the list of names that made up its considerable cast list. It's possible that back when I first became obsessed with Collins in the early-1980s, the other people in this movie simply didn't register with me. But now, thousands of flicks later, most of them were very familiar to me, making it a fun experience to finally watch the thing.

The movie's poster is more than a little misleading, though it's not unusual for publicity to stretch the boundaries of reality in order to get butts into theater seats. This looks like some sort of femme fatale scorcher when in reality the movie is a deftly-intertwined yarn about four men on a criminal mission, whose reasons for being involved are relayed by flashback. I will be leaving some details of the plot out along the way to avoid spoiling things too much for those who wish to view it.

As the film begins, we meet (left to right) Laurence Harvey, Richard Basehart, Stanley Baker and John Ireland. Parked in a car on a damp evening, they are about to embark on some sort of criminal activity. Before they do, we step back in time to examine what brought them to this point.

Basehart, an American veteran of The Korean War, is seen asking his boss for a favor.

His boss, far more invested in the ticker-tape than in Basehart, refuses to allow his recently returned employee some time off he has requested. It seems Basehart is fretful about his wife, who is over in England seeing to her sick mother; a story he's beginning to doubt after her stay has been extended a couple of times.

Ultimately, he quits the job and flies across the ocean to confront his young spouse, played by Joan Collins.

Not only is she not cheating on him - as he had fretted - but she's carrying his child. This would be good news but for the fact that he has now quit his job!

Collins is devoted to her "sick" mother Freda Jackson. Jackson rather transparently keeps getting more ill each time the subject of Collins' return to America comes up. She has a built-in animosity towards her son-in-law.

Next we take a look at boxer Baker, who's about to take part in a match that could spell not only some decent money, but an opportunity for even bigger bouts in the future.

Most of his associates hold out little hope of him winning, even though their own position would improve if he did. Note the "No Smoking" sign, which doesn't seem to be affecting anyone in the room...!

Baker's wife Rene Ray wants him to stop fighting altogether. She can't even bring herself to watch her husband in the ring. She dreams of a house and children and a far more normal existence for the two of them.

Baker has a secret, though. His left hand has been injured prior to the fight. He convinces his manager to keep the injury to himself despite regulations to the contrary. 

The fight is really vigorously shot, with intense close-ups of Baker and his opponent and some eye-catching camerawork and action, especially considering the time (and budget!) In real life, the hirsute Baker was compelled to wax his chest for these scenes.

Baker takes a sound beating in the ring, but does emerge with a certain amount of prize money.

True to his word, and to Ray's great relief, he plans to retire from the ring and look for steady work of a physical nature so that they can build a more secure life together.

Then we come to Ireland, who is an air force soldier on leave.

His actress wife, played by Gloria Grahame, scarcely bothers to note his return to her world and proceeds to selfishly hobnob here and there with other people.

Grahame looks so different to me in this role for some reason. Sometimes she has a Susan Hayward-esque thing going on, though there's never any mistaking that voice!

Then finally there is Harvey as an unfaithful playboy, who spends as much time (and money) fooling around with gambling and women as he can.

Thing is... the money isn't his! He is at the mercy of his wealthy, devoted wife who spends an inordinate amount of her free time painting him in various elegant and aristocratic poses!

Said wife is portrayed by the always marvelous Margaret Leighton.

Harvey (who is usually a polarizing force for moviegoers - they either love him or hate him) affects a highly fey, posh demeanor, sporting a variety of pithy, carefree comments as he tries to milk 1,000 pounds out of his nearly exasperated spouse. We're expected to believe (and maybe it was so... how am I to know?!) that Harvey is such a staggering lover in bed that Leighton finally gives in one last time and agrees to hand him the money.

Baker, who's still recovering from his latest fight, vows to find work. Since a promising job is opening up right away, he puts off seeing to his injured hand until the day after so that he won't miss out on the opportunity for employment.

Unfortunately for him, in a rather excruciating scene, an act of chivalry in allowing a woman to enter a metal gate before him, leads to his already sore hand being crushed!

Agony isn't the word for it.

At the hospital, Ray is informed that her husband will never fight again, even if he should wish to because the hand has been damaged beyond repair.

With any work now hard to come by, Baker does what all too many such men have felt the need to do, which is pass his time in a pub. Here, he meets Basehart, who's been grappling with his own troubles.

Meanwhile, Harvey's plans hit a snag when Leighton finds out about his endless carousing. She tears the check up.

This causes Harvey to have to do the unthinkable, which is crawl to his estranged father (Robert Morley in a nice, wittily-acerbic cameo) and attempt to wring money out of him. But it's a no-go. 

Basehart is all set to take his (radiant) bride Collins back to America when they get a last minute phone call at the airport.

Her mother has thwarted their efforts to leave England by trying to kill herself! (Basehart soon realizes, though, that she has done so by swallowing three - count 'em - three sleeping tablets!)

Over at Ireland's place, his wife Grahame is still enjoying nights on the town (and in her bedroom, apparently!) with gentlemen other than her husband. This particular boy-toy is played by Lee Patterson.

She's startled to see her husband at home and he's understandably irritated by her brazen behavior.

After a couple of exchanges, Ireland (literally) has just about reached his limit.

Down at the local watering hole, Baker and Harvey have now met up. Harvey had been in attendance the night of Baker's last bout in the boxing ring.

Harvey is able to offer up a contact name for use in starting up a business for Baker with the prize money he took home. Baker is relieved to know that he has enough to launch a tobacco shop with an apartment upstairs for him and his wife Ray.

By now, all four men have met and become acquainted with each other.

Things just aren't great for any of them, though. Collins' mother is so horrible that it's beginning to affect her own health and well-being! Basehart needs to get them back to the U.S. and away from the gorgon, but he's run through all the money he had.

Even worse for Baker, his elation over seeing a way towards a future for him and his wife swiftly erodes when he finds out that the money he had saved is all gone!

He's in disbelief as Ray reveals to him how and why she had to use their nest egg.

Ireland is just plain done. He (literally) kicks Patterson out of his apartment and - in a rather silly moment - humiliates Grahame. He's now AWOL from the air force and needs money to flee with.

Harvey has finally hornswaggled Leighton into covering his 1,000 debt. But... in return, she wants him to come with her to Kenya! He is highly reluctant to commit to this and turn away from his freewheeling London lifestyle for life on a coffee plantation.

So he has hatched a plot. One of his squeezes works at a post office and has alerted him to a shipment of funds in the amount of 90,000 pounds! He talks his three pals into planning a heist which will solve all their money woes.

This brings us back to where the whole thing started. Four men in a car about to embark on a criminal proceeding.

It's a misty, dreary night which promises to get drearier for some. Remember, the title is The Good Die Young, so it stands to reason that not everyone is going to emerge with a happy ending. But I won't go any further into the story line than this. 

In addition to the chest-revealing boxing scenes, there is this brief glimpse of Mr. Harvey's lean and fit physique.

Ireland shows little more than this quick flash of his own chest while preparing to shower. Basehart remains buttoned-up throughout.

This was the first time Patterson was credited on a movie screen for his acting work. The Canadian performer had only been in the business one year at this stage. He waffled between movie parts and British television until moving to Hollywood in 1960. There, he became one of the stars of Surfside 6. Many roles on prime-time and daytime TV (he was key character Joe Reilly on One Life to Live) followed until his retirement in 1996. The never-married Patterson died in 2007 of lung & heart ailments at age 77.

In a wordless, but amusing, cameo is actress Sandra Dorne. She plays a paramour of Harvey's while he attends Baker's boxing match. Dorne was considered the "Diana Dors of the Bs."

Just the year before she had starred in Roadhouse Girl opposite Maxwell Reed, who was Joan Collins' husband from 1952-1956. As the 1970s dawned, Dorne worked less and less until 1987, passing away in 1992 at age 68. I mention these two performers first because they were not granted the same type of on-screen credit as the remainder of the principle cast received. The closing credits feature my favorite type of cast depiction!

In a strange turn of events, the copy of this film that I watched on TCM had the end credits in reverse order of billing. Some copies (like the DVD for example) have this switched so that the top-billed actors come first! I am doing them in reverse order.

Ms. Jackson was a prolific and notable stage actress who worked in the occasional movie. She was once described as being "too ferocious" for supporting roles. She had a memorable stage role as a ruthless boarding house matron which she repeated in Britain's first film to achieve an "X" rating (not XXX!) Twilight Women (1952) also featured Harvey and Ray as young lovers. After playing a witch in Clash of the Titans (1981), she retired, passing away in 1990 at age 82.

The portly Morley was a highly familiar face to moviegoers in everything from Marie Antoinette (1938) to The African Queen (1951) to Topkapi (1964) and many others. His wife of more than 50 years was the daughter of Gladys Cooper. Working until 1989, he passed of a stroke in 1992 at age 84.

The captivating Leighton possessed a fascinating face with a riveting gaze. She worked for Alfred Hitchcock in Under Capricorn (1949) and proceeded to a variety of movie roles. She also won two Tonys for her excellent work on the Broadway stage. In 1957, she married her costar here, Laurence Harvey, though the union was over by 1961. A few years later, she wed Michael Wilding, to whom she was married at the time of her premature death from multiple sclerosis in 1976. She was 53.

Every time I see Welsh actor Baker I'm more impressed than the last time and this is no exception. Not only do I find his severely angled features attractive, but the variety and passion he injected into his parts comes through beautifully. Having played tough and/or working class characters from the 1940s on, he proceeded to supporting parts in big-scale epics like Helen of Troy (1956) and The Guns of Navarone (1961.) His hands down triumph came with 1964's Zulu. Cut down by lung cancer at age 48 in 1976, he died before his knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II could be bestowed and also received a posthumous Emmy nomination for his work in the miniseries How Green Was My Valley. (Christopher Plummer won for The Moneychangers.)

I had never encountered Ray before this. The very pretty young lady distinguished herself on stage and was an accomplished singer as well. She also starred in the aforementioned Twilight Women (1952.) She segued out of screen acting in the mid-'50s and turned more to writing and painting as creative outlets. In 1975, she married her longtime love, the 2nd Earl of Midleton, thus becoming a Countess. She died in 1993 at the age of 81.

This film was aimed at an international audience, thus American stars were blended in with the British ones and that's how Ireland became part of it. After a start on the Broadway stage, he became a busy supporting actor in films with an Oscar nomination coming for All the Kings Men (1949), which went to Dean Jagger in Twelve O' Clock High. Always busy, he balanced supporting parts in films like Red River (1948) and Spartacus (1960) with leads in B films. Leukemia claimed him in 1992 at age 78.

Only 20 at the time of filming, this was already Collins' tenth movie. Her next project was the immense international project Land of the Pharaohs (1955) which led to a contract at 20th Century Fox and a raft of colorful, if ultimately disappointing, movies. Ever a master at reinvention (all the while maintaining that distinctive air of elegant glamour), she took the world by storm on Dynasty in 1981, becoming a household name in the process. In what has become an all-too-common occurrence by now, she is the sole principle cast member of The Good Die Young remaining alive today.

Ohio-born Basehart spent many years performing in movies such as Fourteen Hours (1951), Titanic (1953), Moby Dick (1956) and Portrait in Black (1960), but, like his on-screen wife Collins, his biggest legacy probably stems from a TV role. In 1964 he took the lead role on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, which ran for four years and was rerun many times thereafter. One of his lesser known credits was as the narrator on Knight Rider! Busy up until his death in 1984 of multiple strokes, he was 70.

Grahame was an inimitable screen persona with her pouty upper lip and highly distinctive voice. She found herself at home in a wide variety of projects, though her wheelhouse tended to be sultry dames who may or may not spell good news for her mates. Oscar-nominated for Crossfire (1957), losing to Celeste Holm in Gentleman's Agreement, and winning for her brief turn in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), she also made quite a mark in Oklahoma! (1955), though her career began to slip some afterwards. TV roles and low-budget films dotted her later career. Plagued by a couple of breast cancer diagnoses, she eventually relocated to England where she died in 1981 at age 57.

Harvey was of Lithuanian descent, but came to the U.K. buy way of South Africa where he'd been raised. Quickly establishing himself in the British cinema of the late-1940s, he'd already worked with this film's director Lewis Gilbert twice: Scarlet Thread and There is Another Sun (both 1951.) If you tend to like him, this is one of his most vivid roles. If you don't, you can't wait for him to slink off the screen. He's photographed to decent advantage throughout nonetheless. Though he remained busy and in demand, he met an early demise like a few other folks in this movie. Stomach cancer claimed him in 1973 at only age 45.

The perfectly amazing Dame Joan Collins has been a working actress on movie screens for SEVENTY YEARS. Restless and ever-eager to work, not even a global pandemic could completely clear her schedule though a few promised projects bit the dust. She continues to act at every worthwhile opportunity. 
The remarkable Ms. Collins and her handsome hubby of 19 years, Percy Gibson, attend a West End opening just a few days ago!

The End!