Monday, August 31, 2009

You Can Keep Your SUVs. I Want My Van!

There was a time when a reasonably little-known 1960 film called Tall Story used to play frequently on the classic movie cable channels. It starred Anthony Perkins and Jane Fonda and, though I have nothing against them, I never felt the need to tune in. It was about a college basketball star and that is not really my milieu. Had I known then that the film featured a young man named Van Williams as "Young Man in a Shower," I'd have watched it every time it was on! Missed work, abandoned friends, quit shaving... the works! I have yet to see this film in which he's discovered in the buff by Jane as she is skulking about in the boy's locker room with Tony Perkins.

Van was a finely mannered, but inherently masculine, young actor who is best known today for his one season role on TV as The Green Hornet. Previous to that, he'd appeared as private investigator Ken Williams on several Warner Brothers TV series (primarily Bourbon Street Beat and Surfside 6.) He also appeared in the all-star film The Caretakers, which dealt with then-revolutionary group therapy at a mental hospital.

No project he worked on (and he was pretty busy throughout the 60s and early 70s) ever truly demonstrated him to his best ability. True, he was no Laurence Olivier, but he was amiable, accessible and extraordinarily hunky! He eventually left the business in order to pursue a career in the business world as well as local law enforcement.

As the photos sprinkled throughout here demonstrate, he was a man who really looked sharp in a suit and who looked equally delectable out of one. His eyes were a striking blue and his sturdy chin finished off one very handsome face. His chest was a work of art. He never went shirtless on The Green Hornet except for one time when he was injured and showed a bit of shoulder not covered by the bandages. However, in certain scenes of his detective shows, he would occasionally sport a pair of teeny and snug shorts. He also played one yummy dad on a short-lived Saturday morning kids show called Westwind where he rarely bothered to button up his shirts.

Another selling point to this beautiful man was his generosity in making sure that his Green Hornet co-star - a little someone named Bruce Lee (!) - was given the showcasing he deserved at a time when the TV landscape was virtually devoid of Asian actors, especially regulars on a weekly show. Mr. Williams is, as of this writing, the last remaining actor from that series who is still alive. He makes occasional appearances at fan/autograph conventions.


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