Thursday, April 11, 2024

Poseidon Quickies: "F"ederal "B"eefcake "I"nspection

You might recall a not-too-distant post about the many guest stars on early seasons of Quinn Martin's TV series The F.B.I. I've continued to watch the show periodically, which has a tendency to put forth a very buttoned-up quality. I was pleased, though, when season four came around and there were dashes of unexpected, but welcome, examples of the male form. I don't mean to sound desperate about it or anything. I just like to document such occasions and bring them to light for anyone who may want to take a look for themselves. 

Exhibit A occurs in the season four, episode two episode "Out of Control." (Link is to Tubi) In it, oil driller James Franciscus is being investigated by Efrem Zimbalist Jr and his cohorts following a nearby murder.

Blond, toothy, tan Franciscus is a longtime favorite of ours ever since he trotted through Beneath the Planet of the Apes in a skimpy animal skin. (That would come two years after this in 1970.) For more about loincloths in general, including his, see this old post.

Around this period, folks were more used to seeing him in a suit and tie from his role as Mr. Novak (1963-65.) His appearance on The F.B.I. ramped things up in that it was in color, he wore no tie, was coated down with sweat and...

He is introduced in the episode decked out in oil-rigger fantasy drag!

Sporting a jaunty kerchief, steel helmet and (for then) low-slung jeans with work boots, he would be welcome on virtually any pipeline.

A set of very heavy gloves with thick cuffs completes the look.

He looks divine, striding across the oil field. Why, even dogs can't resist the temptation to scamper up and grab a quick pet!

For a meeting with fellow guest star Simon Scott, he's shown strutting in front of a phallic oil drill as he makes his way to the car. 

Check those gloves out.

With apologies (not really) to Ryan Gosling, this is the sort of Ken that I recall.

The sequence is nearly 4-minutes long and he was looking pretty humpy during all of it.

...Whether coming or going.

I'd have done the Scott guest role for nothing, just to have Franciscus put his arms on me! Ha ha!

Season four, episode five "Death of a Fixer," has Zimbalist determining that he needs to cozy up to the girlfriend of a mobster in order to solve a crime. So he heads to a tennis resort.

Things get off to a swingin' start as we first spy the resort. A total hunk comes sauntering quickly across the screen with a racket under his arm.

As he nears the camera, we realize that this is no ordinary extra, but a burgeoning bit player who we would later come to know a little better.

It's Mark Russell, who played a helpful military man in Airport (1970) - as dissected in a post about all the passengers on board - and who later enjoyed a regular supporting part on Kojak.

Russell scurries by and the camera stops on this man. Any clue?

Does this help any? The man in trunks follows Russell to the nearby tennis court fence.

Sensing that Russell might have set his sites on a game with the aforementioned mob girlfriend, the man in sunglasses tells him to get lost.

And now I will inform those who don't yet know that the man is played by Daniel J. Travanti.

Billed early on as Dan Travanty, he later faced down a serious battle with alcoholism, resulting in a new approach, new name and more successful career.

As part of a prime-time super-couple along with Veronica Hamel, Travanti took home two Emmys for Hill St. Blues.

At this stage, though, he was still attempting to get a major foothold as an actor. He worked on many 1960s TV shows and, in fact, did three more eps of The F.B.I. after this one.

As you can see, he was allowed a bit of chest hair, but nothing like he would later display. ('Course, he made up for it with the proliferation on his head!)

You may have already taken notice of Jessica Walter as the girlfriend Zimbalist is trying to get closer to. Travanti does whatever he can to prevent this.

There's just something about those bygone Coppertone days of tan, fit bodies frolicking around an aqua-blue swimming pool.

In a rare occurrence indeed, we have Zimbalist roaming about the resort in a trim pair of trunks.

His suit comes up over the navel (as does Walter's two-piece.)

His is not my preferred type of physique, but I know it appeals to many others' so I'm happy to share as much of it as I can.

The extra passing behind Walter here? Now that's my man!

Anyway, Zimbalist is called away to the phone, allowing Travanti to swoop in and interfere again. (Note his "daring" trunks, which are below the belly button.)

Zimablist returns to the table to find not only Walter gone, but also...

...his camera has gone missing.

Somehow it's wound up at the bottom of the pool! Zimbalist tells Travanti to go and retrieve it. Travanti tells him to get it himself.

With that, the two begin to scuffle and wind up in the water!

Now we're treated to a rather lengthy underwater battle between the men.

They wind up in positions that Esther Williams never dreamed of!

Was this pool 69" deep? LOL There may have been stuntmen involved in part of this, though I couldn't detect that if there were. But there's no question that the gents took part in a significant portion of the tête-à-tête.

See what I mean?

Soon all the action begins to draw a crowd. I loved the chest on this extra in the center. And dig the black hair on the woman in tangerine!

In time, even Russell reappears (at far right.)

The battle beneath the surface rages on.

Travanti appears to be losing (or is it winning in a situation such as this?!)

Finally, it's all over.

Zimbalist emerges victorious.

While Travanti is left on his belly. (BTW, I LOVE the man's sandals at far right. My dad's friends sometimes wore these and I would be transfixed.)

Years later, a far more "ripped" Travanti would appear on TV in far less during the legendary and epic Battle of the Network Stars athletic event specials.

Till next time, The End!


bitter69uk said...

Thank you for your valuable research! Always much appreciated x

Gingerguy said...

This was a poolside oil slicked buffet. I thought Mark Russell was Peter Lupus from Mission Impossible who is one of my childhood obsessions, still hot though. That photo of James Franciscus with his arms around that man's neck is hilarious. Thank you for the shots of Daniel Travant-whatever, I have also found him so sexy. I like him older and Daddified but he's hot here. He and Craig T. Nelson really float my boat. Love the bathing suits. It's funny you mention those sandals. I remember them clearly, very Jesus/hippy.

A said...

I'm sorry, but Zimbalist looks ridiculous in those trunks. Put him in a speedo, though...

I've always been a huge Daniel J. Tranvanti fan. I'm really sorry now that I missed most of Battle of the Network Stars. I would have lost it if I had seen him in those speedos. In fact, I'm a little flustered right now.

Another great post, Poseidon. Thanks again!

Michael Conklin said...

Another wonderful post…I love this blog!

James Franciscus was a favorite of mine…I loved his lean smooth body and his gorgeous face. He left us way too soon. Regarding the ‘Ken’ comment, I believe you mean Ryan Gosling (my future husband), not Ryan Reynolds (who is equally delicious).

Daniel Travanti was scrumptious back in the day…and so humpy in his ‘Hill Street Blues’ days. Yum

Efrem Zimbalist Jr was not my type but I certainly wouldn’t kick him out for getting crumbs on the sheets.

Thanks again for another great post!

Poseidon3 said...

bitter69uk, thanks! I'm glad you liked this.

Gingerguy, I got mild vapors when James looked like he was going to embrace that man (still with those industrial gloves, which for some reason got my attention!) Ha ha!! BTW, I never watched "Hill St Blues," apart from clips at Emmy and GG time! I was all about the prime time soaps then.

A, I think EZJ was a little older and still adhering to what was the norm in HIS day. We've all seen this happen at pools with some folks' dads or grandfathers.... LOL How 'bout trunks with ankle socks and leather loafers at the pool? Ha ha ha!

Michael Conklin! OMG, how dumb of me. It's fixed. I think my brain shut off at the sight of the new Ken. I have seen and liked both Ryans in things, though, so I should have known better. Thanks!! Unlikely as it sounds, I loved the first "Deadpool" and liked the second, too!

Chellis610 said...

It’s amazing how buff Dan Travanti got later on-undoubtedly great news for his longtime partner! Yes, he plays for the home team. He and his partner have been living together in plain sight for several decades now. If only Dan had posed for Playgirl during his Hill Street days!

Dan said...

Sorry, but as pretty as he is, Franciscus is a bit lean for my taste. I’m holding out for light blue trunks guy. (Did he borrow those from Sean Connery in “Thunderball?)
I do love Travanti’s striped trunks, but I need the slimming effect of vertical stripes. He always seemed just so intense. I wonder if that was his true personality or just what his parts called for?

hsc said...

Poseidon, thanks for doing these framecaps from TV series! It astonishes me when you grab things like this out of shows that my parents watched and I just ignored at the time- and I shake my head and wonder how I failed to notice any of this, especially by the time I *should've* been starting to take notice.

Those shots of James Franciscus were great! I think the reason that those hefty industrial gloves make such an impression is the way that all the "macho" costume pieces contrast with his exposed smooth, tanned flesh and lean torso.

It's an old trick they used in vintage beefcake (and cheesecake) photography-- non-concealing accessories like headgear, gloves, footwear and neckwear can be used not only to establish "character" but also to draw even more attention to all the exposed areas of the body.

(I forget who said it, but a famous "cheesecake" photographer once pointed out that a completely naked woman is *just* "naked"-- and because there are commonplace, *non*-sexual reasons like bathing for EVERYBODY to be naked, that image is less sexually-charged.

But if you were to take that same completely naked model and simply add make-up, earrings or a necklace, and a pair of heels, she goes from being "naked" to "nude"-- because her body is now exposed in a different, clearly sexually-charged context.)

And while it's still hot to see James Franciscus like that, with the passage of time those "macho" costume bits now have a "Village People" vibe to them that's unintentionally campy, even if it also recalls vintage "physique" photography.

And it's also a treat to see Daniel Travanti in an early role, contrasted with his later years as a sex symbol. He definitely got better with age, and it's nice that he wasn't shy about taking advantage of it while it lasted.

Efrem Zimbalist was also attractive, but yeah-- count me in as being *MUCH* more focused on that hairy-chested extra in the blue trunks (did they change to a different pair in the background of a shot with Jessica Walters, or was that just a trick of lighting?)-- and I'm glad you were focused on him as well and managed to grab such a good look at him.

It's a shame that type of male hotness is becoming so rare onscreen due to the push towards manscaping (which would be sexier if it wasn't so ubiquitous-- at one time, it used to be a "specialty" item in gay porn, with scenes and even whole videos devoted to shaving).

And let's not forget to mention that *other* hairy-chested hunk-- the one in dark trunks with white waistband and center stripe, to the right of that woman in tangerine with the ridiculously thick black mane!

(I'd like to see him yell, "OUR turn now!" after Travanti and Zimbalist are out, grab blue trunks hunk, and dive in for another underwater wrestling scene-- where the winner is the first one who can completely remove his opponent's trunks!)

In fact, I was initially so distracted by his hairy chest when I saw that first framegrab, that "tangerine woman's" long black hair and wide white headband coupled with her bowed head and clasped hands made me think, "Wait a minute-- NUNS can wear garish beachwear when they go on vacation, as long as they keep their *veils* on?"

And *then* I read your caption, looked more closely and realized it was just a great example of classic bad late '60s hair-- or maybe even some sort of headband wig with long modacrylic "hair" to cover your ruined 'do after you've been swimming! LOL!

(And let's not overlook the woman at the far left of those framecaps in that "tuxedo"-styled B/W suit!)

As always, a wonderful job spinning nondescript TV "straw" into framecapped "gold"! Thanks so much for these posts, Poseidon, and for all you do!

Love to all and be safe and well, everyone!

joel65913 said...

Fun post Poseidon!

Though he's not my type there is no question James Franciscus was a very handsome man in the Arrow collar/Ken mold. He was always very physically fit (however he supposedly smoked like a house afire!) and generous with the beefcake though never enough to allow himself to be trapped in some himbo hell. I discovered him on the short-lived Longstreet TV series and am always delighted when I come across him in the cast list of something. A particular favorite of mine is the delightfully clever 1976 TV movie "One of My Wives is Missing" where he costars with Elizabeth Ashley, Jack Klugman and my beloved Ruth McDevitt in her final appearance.

I was never a devoted Hill Street Blues watcher though the few episodes I saw seemed decent and Travanti was handsome in that rugged Daddy way. He's more of a young buck here but certainly looks quite the picture in those jazzy trunks. I wonder how he got away with showing his navel when no one else could?

Now about Efrem. I've always thought he was ideal casting for his role in The F.B.I. He's a stiff screen presence and that is exactly what his character was called on to be (he shares much in common with Jack Lord including that nearly immovable head of black hair though his doesn't have Lord's flair). I must say I am shocked to discover he ever appear in the show out of that sharply tailored suit! Though in a couple of those screen caps his body language reads like he's still constrained by the suit he's not wearing. I do catch an episode of the show here and there so I'll have to look for this one in particular to see if he seems any more comfortable in motion!

As always a delightful read, thanks Poseidon!

Poseidon3 said...

Dan, if I'm being honest, Jimmy Franciscus isn't truly my exact type either (see Clint Walker for that!), but sometimes he still piques my interest. "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" being THE example of such. I feel like Dan Travanti had something of an intense personality, but I don't know that for sure. Just my impression.

hsc, I was agog during that pool scene with the extras coming in and out the way they were. If you only knew what I see at my own summer pool hangout each year. Eeeeek! But, of course, this was Hollywood. But even if you look between Efrem and Jessica in this shot, you can see fun in the background! -- I COMPLETELY agree with you about the accessories (being enhancements and yet sometimes veering into camp) and the naked/nude thing. I would have to look again to be 100% positive, but I think that yellow trunks man and blue trunks man are two different guys. I'll take one in every color! LOL I did take note of the "tuxedo" swimsuit, too. Ha!

joel65913, you (and others who've mentioned it) may be pleased to know that "Longstreet" is out on DVD, looking very beautiful, from what I recall. Many people fondly remember that shortlived series. So many that it's surprising that it didn't last! I watched "One of My Wives is Missing" not too long ago and enjoyed it a lot!!! So funny about Efrem still seeming like he's in his suit even though he's only wearing a little pair of trunks. For those who care, he was also wearing a white athletic supporter under them. It became visible briefly as he was sitting down or getting up. Just to be sure you knew, I did link to the Tubi site for both of these eps within the post. Happy viewing!!

jobj69 said...

Another terrific post, Poseidon, especially with the double dip of James Franciscus and Daniel J. Travanti...great eye candy!

While I was enamored by the handsome Franciscus as a lad, my tastes ventured more toward Travanti in his Hill Street Blues era, when I was barely 20 years-old. I remember reading an article/interview with him during that time (though I don't recall which periodical) where he confessed he preferred to be nude whenever possible...a shame there were no pictures included for confirmation of that though I think there was a shirtless pic and maybe wearing briefs or - heaven forbid - tighty whities! But I do recall an evident bulge in whatever he had on for that particular photo. I had many sweet dreams over that! I always wondered/hoped that he might be family, so happy to hear positive news of that from one of your other fans...Take care!

Poseidon3 said...

jobj69, I love interviews like the one you mention. Ones that actually revealed something, so to speak! LOL If you haven't ever done so, you MUST read the Movieline interview with Kevin Bacon that I posted back in 2011... (The whole post is hooty to begin with, but the interview is about 1/4th of the way in.)