Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Are You Ready for Swimsuit Season?

Are you on the Special K diet? Jenny Craig? Atkins? Swimsuit season is nearly upon us. To commemorate the home stretch until Memorial Day weekend when the pools around here open, I give you a plentiful selection of famous men trotting around in their swimsuits. (Whenever possible, we offer up that skimpy Underworld favorite, the Speedo!) I'll warn you in advance that this post will be rambling all over the place, despite my attempts to segue effectively.

There's nothing quite like watching a movie and having one of the actors (preferably a nice-looking one!) suddenly appear wearing swim trunks. Of course, practically the whole plot of 40 Carats took its cue from vacationing Liv Ullmann encountering young Edward Albert in the Greek Isles and being coerced into a swim with him.

A dip in the breathtaking Mediterranean waters ultimately leads to a romantic clinch that leaves her feeling ashamed (since this was 1973 and she was practically twice his age.) While he is asleep on the beach, she slinks away, eventually returning to New York City, but what a shock she gets when it turns out that Albert is her daughter's most recent blind date!

In 1970's The Executioner, star George Peppard takes a dip (in flashback) wearing a snug white pair of trunks.

What a surprise for viewers who went to see Death Wish in 1974. A gritty, dark, at times disturbing, revenge thriller starring Charles Bronson, there was a brief sequence showing the star and his on-screen wife Hope Lange on vacation together. Mr. Bronson (who, in his prime had a rock-solid, sinuous body) is shown cavorting on the beach in a Speedo!

Two years before, Bronson had played an Indian in Chato's Land and, for much of the running time, wore little more than a loincloth, so he certainly wasn't body conscious. I think it's neat that a fit, fifty-three year-old man felt comfortable enough to appear on movie screens this way. Good for him! As my mother used to kiddingly say, “If you've got it, flaunt it!”

Later, he gets some pictures back from the trip and there is one of him with Lange that's posed and a little more close-up.  Speaking of pictures, if you've ever seen the excellent Coen Brothers film Blood Simple (1984), the villain of the piece, Dan Hedaya, has a portrait on his wall of himself with his put-upon wife Frances McDormand.  In it, he's wearing a somewhat revealing Speedo.  I always try to back up my claims with visual evidence when possible, so here you go:

1972's Hickey & Boggs was a re-teaming of I Spy stars Robert Culp and Bill Cosby (and directed by Culp), though unlike the tongue-in-cheek TV series, this was far more serious in tone. They played down-on-their-luck private eyes who become embroiled in a deadly case. At the beginning of the movie, Cosby visits a potential client on the beach and for a moment we think we're in for quite a treat as the man is sporting a very snug, brief swimsuit.

Then he sits up and we see that it is an older, rather flamboyant guy who has parked his beach blanket and radio right next to a children's playground on purpose! It's a pretty audacious character and sequence for that time. (Later the guy is shown again in a hilariously queeny polyester get-up, shown below. The actor in question was Lester Fletcher and, while we know he didn't pick it himself, even his name has a rather ickly “Chester the Molester” vibe to it!)

Later on in that same movie, there's another display of hirsute male physique from an unlikely source, Robert Mandan (later of Soap fame!) He plays a crime boss whose office complex features a swimming pool, which he enjoys using.

That young face down by his crotch as he emerges from the water belongs to Michael Moriarty in one of his very earliest screen parts. Mr. Mandan seems to have something wiggling around in his wet trunks. (I know these two men aren't for everybody, but I lean towards being a completist and so when something comes my way that fits a category or somehow seems interesting I have to share it!)

Far more alluring for most of us is the young and well-built set of guys who show up in 1979's Breaking Away. This is a good movie about cycling, but my favorite scene has nary a handlebar or tire in it! It's the part where a group of lower middle class friends go to a swimming hole and are interrupted by a separate group of snobby teens. The deliriously beautiful Hart Bochner is their ring leader.

Was there really a time when a casual group of students would head out to go swimming and every one of the guys had on a Speedo?! Yum! We don't get to see a tremendous amount of Hart in his red one (or of the third guy in a patterned suit), but there's a nice glimpse or two of the blonde, curly-haired guy shown here. These particular pictures of the scene suck and the actual movie affords a better, clearer view of this happy sight.

One movie that is primo for guy watching and, for one big section anyway, Speedo glimpsing is 1976's Lifeguard. That big hunk of man Sam Elliott takes part in a lifeguard contest in which virtually all of the participants wear Speedos. (Sadly, they also wear not-so-flattering swim caps, but Mr. Elliott could pull off almost any look, he was so masculine and handsome.)

I typically strive like the plague to avoid mentioning or depicting our next star, but I guess I can unclench long enough to show a shot of him from his earliest days as an actor when he hadn't completely turned into the jackass he is now. In the 1979 Australian film Tim, he played a mentally handicapped (and dead-sexy looking!) young man who winds up working for (and falling in love with) the older Miss Piper Laurie.

In an earlier Australian film (the unfinished, but cobbled together Summer City, in 1977), he had played one of four young surfers and even shared an affectionate (but non-romantic) kiss with one of his male costars. This photo of him in another Speedo is not from that movie, but quite a while later, though it is often used on the cover of the video boxes because of the surfboard in the background.

Singer Tom Jones was a big fan of the Speedo. He might be photographed lying by the pool or the jacuzzi in one, lifting weights, doing sit-ups, who knows...! Or, as seen below, he might be singing a song on the deck of a boat with only a captain's hat and a teeny pair of white briefs to his name.  Toni Tenille can have her Captain Darryl Dragon... I'll have Captain Jones!

Here are a couple more Speedo pics, from two very different actors. Up first is Sylvester Stallone, who is also sea-bound. I mean, really, who doesn't practice boxing moves in a teeny pair of briefs while careening around the ocean on a sailboat? Ha!

Roy Scheider, famous for his starring role in Jaws, sports a similar suit, but his nearly emaciated physique doesn't go very far in putting the look across. This is too gaunt for me. I like a little man with my man, you know what I mean?

When Nick Nolte filmed The Deep, an oceanic saga that tried to ride the waves of Jaws' success (and which was helped along mightily by the sight of Jacqueline Bisset in a wet t-shirt!), he wore more traditional swim trunks, though they weren't without their own merits.

This next picture doesn't involve swimming, but you know how I love to make my own rules in The Underworld. It's from the 1980 camp musical debacle Can't Stop the Music, featuring The Village People. As Steve Guttenberg is screening talent in order to form the eclectic group of singers, his office is overrun by every conceivable kind of performer. This one strips out of his blue jumpsuit to reveal a Speedo (complete with the iconic logo on his hip.) Even though they are supposed to be straight, do take note of the looks on Guttenberg and costar Bruce Jenner's faces!
Turning to TV for a moment, here's a little series of shots from a 1963 episode of the sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits.  In this one, yacht skipper Ralph Meeker and crew get way more than they bargained for as they fish around in a Latin American lake.  By this time, Meeker (pictured above on the left with Jerry Douglas - later of The Young and the Restless - on the right) was no longer the movie star he'd been in the 1950s, though he would continue working, emerging as a dynamic character actor in the '60s and '70s.

Anyway, as the show progresses, we discover that Meeker is not just standing on deck in a hat and T-shirt, but is standing on deck in a hat, T-shirt and a small, snug pair of swim trunks!  Not in top shape, he's still sort of sexy in a burly, daddy way.  Incidentally, though Meeker remains a somewhat lesser known actor among the general populace, he has a small, but devoted, following and there is even a kitschy, campy website devoted to him and others of his era called The Meeker Museum.
I next give you the Australian series Riptide, which starred American western hero Ty Hardin. Hardin was hardly shy about showing off his body (and can be found elsewhere on this site shirtless and in tiny trunks), but on this series, nearly everyone wore briefs for their swimsuits! These shots, which are admittedly not the world's best, demonstrate some of the bulging beefcake that could be found on the series. Go to for a firsthand glimpse of this!

As I have said again and again, NOWHERE was there a better spot for watching male TV stars in Speedos than during the occasional special broadcasts of Battle of the Network Stars. Each installment of this recurring series had bunches of hot TV actors competing against each other for prize money and glory, often in those infamous little shiny briefs. There was the dunking booth (seen here with Tom Selleck about to plop down)

Then there were the swimming relay races and the kayak relay. All of these events had the stars shucked down to a Speedo. That's Marc Singer above and below we have the delicious Gregory Harrison, who has a tribute all his own here.

I'm told that ESPN Classic has been running these vintage broadcasts lately, but I don't have that channel on my satellite package! Just imagine seeing a gang like this one: Gil Gerard, Robert Conrad, Patrick Wayne and Greg Evigan, along with many, many others, trotting around close to naked on your TV screen. No wonder I was rapt with attention to this program every time it was on.

The Speedo eventually met its demise, though it hung on through the early 1980s and even longer than that on some series (John James and Maxwell Caufield of The Colbys wore them until '86 or '87 and Michael Nader of Dynasty still wore one in '88.) Here we have a glimpse of Gordon Thomson during a guest role on The Love Boat, emerging from the pool in a Speedo in order to have lunch with Pat Klaus.

I'm gonna go vintage on you for a wee bit. Look at this shot of actor Ronald Reagan, years before he was governor or President, modeling for a sculpting class. It may be hard to believe, but at that time in the early 1940s, his lean, lean, barely-defined figure was considered “near perfect!”

Here's Tom Laughlin (better known later as Billy Jack in a series of self-made films) making a splash in 1960's The Proper Time. He wrote, directed and starred in this flick about a UCLA student with a speech impediment who is helped out of his predicament by a couple of girls, one promiscuous and one “good.”

I've posted shots before of Mr. Cary Grant in his white trunks from 1962's Doris Day romp That Touch of Mink and this is still one more. For a man to be this fit and trim at fifty-eight during that era was really quite something. I continue to admire the fact that he could pull it off.

The next year, in Move Over, Darling, Day had another male costar who wore a skimpy suit. Her primary costar was James Garner, but Chuck Conners also appeared as a man who had spent a long time with her stranded on an island, causing no small amount of jealousy for her husband.

Though Conners looked all right in his leopard print togs, I must say I found Tom Tryon far more appealing when he had the role earlier. (The film had been started as "Something's Got to Give" with Dean Martin and Marilyn Monroe, but was scrapped and started over with a new cast in the wake of Monroe's death.) He wears white trunks, not briefs, but they're so low slung he could pass for almost looking nude in some shots.

I do have a couple of pics of the aforementioned James Garner, both from his 1959 submarine film Up Periscope. They have him in some skimpy briefs, as shown below:

And some clingy, wet, white trunks as depicted here:

How about Mr. Yul Brynner, the King of Siam and Rameses II, off on a boating jaunt in some clingy, white briefs?

Brynner's The Ten Commandments costar Charlton Heston had guts enough to don this teeny pouch (and that ghastly wig) when he played Marc Anthony in 1970's Julius Caesar. He wasn't swimming here, but running a race. I guess they didn't feel they could do it nude as probably would have been the case back then, so they opted for the next best thing. Forty-seven at the time, he wasn't in terrible shape, but hardly cuts the mustard by today's standards. (Few men of today, though, would sport so much chest hair, which has fallen out of fashion in many circles.)

Now, we're not going to beat up on Chuck today, though.  In his own day, he was quite hot, too.  Look at his lean, tan torso as he suns himself in between scenes of a movie (Commandments or Ben-Hur?)  For a while during the 1950s, he was a tall, handsome, hero, perfect for all those epic spectacles he appeared in.
Someone who always looked good in positively anything was famed body-builder Steve Reeves. If you have never looked at his tribute here before, do yourself a favor and make haste there later! He was so dreamy handsome, more so than this particular shot depicts (and despite his massive size, was very much against steroids and other muscle-enhancing substances.) Here he sports a tidy pair of swim trunks while onlookers can only stare or smile ear-to-ear at his impressiveness.

During the filming of the James Bond film Dr. No (1962), star Sean Connery was snapped reading a book during his down time. This is one of my favorite kind of swimsuit shots, with the leg gaping open to show the netting (or athletic supporter as the case may be) up inside.

One of Hollywood's most physically agile actors ever was Mr. Burt Lancaster. A circus acrobat before making his debut in films at age age thirty-five (just think about that!), he could do many of his own stunts and held on to a healthy physique for far longer a time than several of his contemporaries.

In 1968's allegorical drama The Swimmer, his sole costume was a snug pair of navy blue trunks that he wore while his character traveled from one neighborhood pool to the next, the destination being his own home. Along the way, he meets up with several friends, some in better moods than others. Here, in a rare photograph, he acts opposite Barbara Loden, whose performance was so dynamic that it overshadowed him, was excised, and then completely re-shot with Janice Rule in the role and by another director.

At one point in the story, he comes to a couple who are practicing nudists and are sitting in their yard reading the paper. (Hilariously, the female keeps her pearl earrings and choker on, but nothing else.) Respecting their ways, he strips down himself and, at age fifty-two, gives the world a rear nude scene that, all things considered, is not embarrassing!

All those Frankie and Annette Beach Party movies are great for guy watching if you're able to tolerate the often goofy goings on in the storylines. The titles of these flicks often heralded the word bikini and featured buxom, bouncing babes all around, but to those who want to see some beefcake, there is no disappointment on that front either.

I have never been able to wrap my mind around the fact that Annette's hair could withstand all the ocean breezes, sun, sea mist and everything else. That's impressive. Also impressive is Mr. Peter Lupus who is one of the men holding her up on this album cover (he's on the right.) If he looks familiar, it could be from his lengthy stint on Mission: Impossible or his "lengthy" layout in Playgirl magazine, done soon after that show went off the air.

He's in this next shot, too, with Don Rickles and a few other musclemen.

If you like rear views, maybe you'll enjoy this picture of cutie John Ashley, who was in most of the Beach Party flicks as well. He's shown pranking costar Deborah Walley, to whom he was married from 1962 to 1966.

This shot and the one directly below are actually from the 1965 Bob Hope comedy I'll Take Sweden and not a beach movie proper. Costar Frankie Avalon wears some ungodly tight trunks and sings the title number while dancing frenetically on the end of a pier. “I'll take Sweden, yeah yeah!” If you have never seen this segment of the movie, you haven't lived. It is hilarious!

That same year, but along a more serious vein (at least that is what was intended!) brought us the sun and sand spectacular Love Has Many Faces starring Miss Lana Turner, but costarring Mr. Hugh O'Brian and his teeny, tiny trunks. In this shot, Turner is engaged in some sand volleyball with a few extras, one of who (the one behind her) looks to be really filling out his shorts.

Here we have a rather rare shot of Mr. O'Brian serving up hot, manly realness. Whoever the photographer was on this publicity shot had one of the greatest gigs ever! Mr. O, during the bulk of his early career, was a little too slim for me, but by this time he had entered a period of sleek, lean, tan hunkitude. His appearance in Faces is staggering and one that he regrettably never topped later.

As we crawl towards the end of this post, I must report that, these days, the Speedo, or similarly abbreviated article, usually only rears its head at sporting events (if even then, now that other types of swimsuits have been deemed more aerodynamic!) If we do see one otherwise, it's usually treated as a joke. Such was the case in Jury Duty (1995), in which Pauly Shore appeared in a dream sequence that had him stripping while done up as a judge. He disrobed (pun intended) to reveal a bright blue banana hammock.

More appealing evidence was in the recent 2009 film Couples Retreat in which four pairs of squabbling mates headed to an island resort thinking that they are there strictly for a vacation, but who soon find out that they are there to work on their relationships whether they wish to or not! The resort's yoga instructor Salvadore (played by Carlos Ponce) beguilingly emerges from the water in a clingy, wet Speedo, much to the dismay of the men.

As the yoga sessions continue, Ponce gets increasingly more familiar and hands-on with the ladies, again to the men's chagrin. Though the whole thing is intended to be funny, the actor is nonetheless seductively sexy.

Towards the end of the movie, the ladies come upon Ponce skinny-dipping and, again, he emerges from the water like some sort of god, though his naughty bits are obscured from us by some local foliage that has sprung up near the water's edge.

What a surprise to discover that this 6'1” Puerto Rican born actor has been married since 1996 and is the father of four children! He has my favorite coloring of dark hair with pale eyes, just the sort of look that Warner Brothers or Universal would have snatched up in the 1950s and '60s, turning him into one of their cookie-cutter TV and movie stars. A busy, working actor both in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico, I hope he continues to get hired because not only do I enjoy looking at him, but he was easily the highlight of Couples Retreat (is that saying very much?!)

I hope you enjoyed this swimsuit round-up. You know I'll be back again with something along these lines once the pools are officially open for the season! 

Did you read this far?  You know how sometimes a movie will have something fun after the credits for those who sat through them?  You know also how I always try to save something good for the final photo whenever possible?  I have a little treat for those of you who stayed till the end!  Ha!  See what you think of this second shot of Battle of the Network Stars participant Marc Singer, about to toss some balls at the dunking booth.  This could be one of the most revealing BOTNS Speedos I have ever seen (apart from the year Michael J. Fox got up on the swim platform at half-mast - at least!)


Post a Comment