Monday, March 8, 2010

70s (and 80s) TV Exposure, Volume 4: The Shirt Shortage

Previously, I posted entries on the various ways in which male 70s and 80s TV stars were, um, revealed whether through their open shirts, their tight pants or in Speedos, a swimsuit that hit its zenith during that time. During a visit to another blog, a wonderful one and the first blog I ever read (and the only one I visit regularly) called “Stirred, Straight Up, With a Twist,” I was inspired to revisit this topic because of a photo posted there of Dirk Benedict, shirtless with his pants open (not the same photo shown here.)

It jogged my memory that back in the day, it was a pretty standard practice to trot out any and all good-looking male TV stars wearing just a pair of pants or jeans and sometimes (inexplicably!) with them open! This is not a complaint. It just sort of amuses me, especially since many of the photos were aimed at teen girls. In this post, I’ll put forth a few of those types of shots along with some other beefcake in a similar vein. While these photos aren’t specifically from episodes of TV series, the men featured were all in shows at or around the time of their photos and this was part of their publicity.

First up is John Travolta. Before he became the superstar of
Grease, Saturday Night Fever (and later, Pulp Fiction) and the bloated object of ridicule in Battlefield Earth and other lesser films, he was the breakout star of a TV series meant to feature Gabe Kaplan. Welcome Back, Kotter was a high school-themed series with a gang of dudes called The Sweathogs and Travolta, as Vinnie Barbarino, was chief among them. Times have certainly changed as John’s pasty, chunky torso would hardly ignite young female fans these days!

e notable last name in the 70s was Cassidy. David Cassidy (son of entertainer Jack Cassidy) became a teen sensation on The Partridge Family, co-starring his step-mother Shirley Jones. While he certainly had his fair share of pinups, some of them shirtless, he really caused a stir when he posed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and a layout inside in which he revealed his pubic hair! This was part of a move he was attempting to shed his squeaky-clean teen image. His younger half-brother Shaun Cassidy was, for a time, a very hot commodity as well. A bubble gum pop singer, he starred for three seasons on The Hardy Boys, with his face seemingly everywhere, but especially in the lockers or folders of school age girls. While David still tours even now, Shaun has had success moving into the production end of things. (And for what it’s worth, youngest brother Patrick was, in my opinion, far cutest of them all!)

Next up is another guy who w
as a major heartthrob to the teen set, Greg Evigan. Star of B.J. and the Bear, his costar was a chimpanzee! What’s striking about Greg, and is also, in fact, about several of the stars in this post, is that he had a hairy chest and was neither asked, nor expected to shave it for the purposes of making him seem more accessible to the little girls. At the time he was most popular, I had no interest in him, but over the years, his appeal has rubbed off on me a little more.

CHiPs (an acronym for California Highwa
y Patrol) was a favorite show with plenty of opportunity for beefcake. While Larry Wilcox was a little bit bland, the more flamboyant Erik Estrada was everywhere. His tan uniform pants seemed, literally, twice as snug as anyone else’s on the series. He was photographed countless times without his shirt in publicity pics. To be honest, one of my earliest crushes in life was on the unlikely Robert Pine, who played the somewhat older sergeant in charge of the officers. His son Chris Pine is now a burgeoning star, having played Captain Kirk in the big screen Star Trek redux. When Wilcox left the series, he was replaced by another blond actor, Tom Reilly. But what really set my preteen heart aflutter was that character’s little brother who was introduced soon after. Bruce Penhall, a pro cyclist, was brought on and there seemed nothing in the world cuter than his petite, cute, tan, blonde, blue-eyed self

One young man (who, again, never did it for me, but I do no
t always serve only myself here!), who also enjoyed a period of intense popularity was Peter Barton. As the lead actor in The Powers of Matthew Star, a science fiction show, he got plenty of face time, and some degree of chest time, in the fan rags. He also came to prominence on The Young and the Restless.

An old character was given new life when the series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century came about. Star Gil Gerard was a hunky, if brawny, type of guy and his chest was exploited on the show as well as in publicity shots. However, by the second season, his weight gain started to become a real issue (and later would become even more significant, threatening his very life, until he intervened and turned things around.)

One of Hollywood’s all-time hunks, macho man Robert Conrad had a TV series called Baa Baa Black Sheep about WWII aviators. He made sure his one piece jumpsuit was tighter than anyone else’s on the show, which makes watching the old episodes somewhat funny now. He also had a highly popular Everready commercial in which he dared the viewer to knock the little battery off his (sometimes bare) shoulder.

William Shatner returned to series TV with T.J. Hooker, his sidekick was the svelte, dark-haired Adrian Zmed. Zmed was Broadway singer and dancer who had a big role in the unsuccessful Grease 2. Popular while the show was on the air, he had trouble continuing his career when it ended, ultimately taking part in the reality series Confessions of a Teenage Idol, geared towards giving a second chance to male celebs whose shelf life had run its course.

Though the show has long since left the air, the very word
McGyver still brings up visions of a man who could take a matchbook, a piece of gum, half a spoon and a nail and break out of a Mexican jail! Star Richard Dean Anderson gained fame for his starring role in the show. Previously featured on Days of Our Lives, he later appeared in several variations of the sci-fi series Stargate starting around 1994, an enterprise that keeps him employed even now.

Trapper John, MD was a medical drama starring Pernell Roberts as th
e title character. Co-starring was Gregory Harrison as Gonzo Gates, a far more casual and genial doctor than his counterpart. Harrison provided in the opening credits, one of the sexiest shots of that time, a clip of him emerging from a shower. After one season, the shot was cropped to show less of him down below, which was more than a little disappointing! However, producers knew what they had in the hairy hunk and dispersed publicity stills of him with his chest front and center.

The daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless has
always yielded a slew of hunks. One of them, in particular, was the dark, muscled, ever-smooth Don Diamont. Though this set of posts traditionally focuses on primetime actors, he fit the bill so much with his undone jeans I just had to include him. I must say, however, that his sinewy, veiny arm gives me the creeps. I like a beefier (or at least less arterial-looking) type of guy myself.

One of the most notorious switcheroos ever to take place in TV Land w
as the time that original stars of The Dukes of Hazzard, Tom Wopat and John Schneider, walked off the show in a contract dispute and were swiftly replaced by two actors who almost no one had ever heard of before! The guys, Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer were tossed out to the public like so much meat, shirtless and in jeans, as if any brunette and blonde country boy could fill the required places! Public reaction was negative, to say the least, and the original stars were brought back after just 18 episodes.

One of the greatest hunks ever to have lived (and who is
profiled here elsewhere, just click on his name to the right) is Jon Erik Hexum. Star of the short-lived series Voyagers, thankfully some of the eras he was transported to required him to be shirtless. Cut down way before his time thanks to an act of carelessness on his part, he left behind a plethora of beautiful images of his amazing face and physique.

Now… Do we know the good-lo
oking and well-packaged young man on the bicycle? An actor featured in two brief television series of the 70s, Sierra and Westside Medical, as well as a few other obscure TV projects, you may be surprised to learn that, at 28, he wrote the play and later successful movie On Golden Pond! Who knew that Ernest Thompson was so hubba hubba?

Thanks, again, to my friend TJB whose site gave me the impetus to post these pictures. Should you wish to visit Stirred, Straight Up, With a Twist, a tribute to all things fabulous from the 50s, 60s and beyond, this is the link to the site:


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