Mar 22, 2018

Elvis in Underwear

In the 1950s, nude photos of male celebrities were practically non-existent; the few examples we have were taken and developed in private, and didn't get mass exposure for many years.  Even shirtless photos are uncommon.  So it's no wonder that Elvis Presley caused a stampede when he was photographed in his underwear during his induction into the U.S. army in 1958.

At the time he was the most famous singer in the world, a cultural icon who almost single-handedly drew rock and roll away from its roots in jazz and blues.   He had already had a string of #1 hits, including "Heartbreak Hotel," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Don't Be Cruel," "Hound Dog" -- the list goes on.  Being drafted was a big deal, even without the underwear.

A few other shirtless shots have surfaced over the years.  Elvis didn't have a great physique; in fact, he was a little chunky.  But that didn't make much difference to his armies of fans, in and out of the army.

He was apparently quite homophobic in real life -- most men of the 1950s generation were -- but that didn't stop him from forging friendships with many gay men.

Including actor Nick Adams.  Of course, he may not have known: Adams was not exactly out at the time.

Mar 21, 2018

Robert Goulet: 1950s Gay Icon

You may not recognize the name Robert Goulet, but he was an icon to the gay generation who survived the pre-Stonewall Dark Ages (1950-1969).

During those years, he was a fixture on Broadway, starring in such gay favorites as Dream Girl (1959), Meet Me in St. Louis (1960), and Camelot (1962), befriending such gay favorites as Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, and Cher.

As a singer, he charted frequently during the 1960s, with the easy-listening pop tunes that the older generation liked as a remedy to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones: "My Love, Forgive ME" (1964), "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" (1965), "Once I Had a Heart" (1966).

He starred in eight movies, often with gay subtexts:

1. Gay Pur-ee (1962).  Animated cat Mewsette (Judy Garland) leaves her quiet country life for the wicked city of Paris, and her male friends Jaune-Tom (Robert Goulet) Robespierre (Red Buttons) try to rescue her.  There's also a sophisticated male cat shipped to America as a "mail order bride."

2. Honeymoon Hotel (1964) had an interesting gay connection: he and Robert Morse (the one in the dress) check into the "honeymoon hotel" along with all of the other couples.  Heterosexual hijinks follow, but there are a sizeable number of double-takes at the "honeymoon couple," as well as the rule "you've got to have a girl in your room" to eliminate any rumors.

Here's a semi-nude photo of the boyfriend.

3. I'd Rather Be Rich (1964).  Young heiress Sandra Dee has to decide between her fiance (Andy Williams) and the man she's hired to impersonate him (Robert Goulet).

Goulet appeared on tv nearly 100 times, in specials devoted to his music, in his own series, Blue Light (1966-67), about an American journalist going undercover to spy on the Nazis during World War II, and in many guest roles: a hunky science teacher on The Patty Duke Show, a con artist faith healer on The Big Valley. a murderous doctor on The Name of the Game.

The 1950s was the era of the face, not the physique, but Goulet was not shy about displaying his tight, hard muscles for the camera.

Of course, Goulet continued to perform for thirty years after Stonewall, but he aimed his work at that same body of fans who had loved him in the 1950s, appealing to Boomers only in an occasional spoof, or when a melodious voice was needed: he provided the voice for Wheezy the Penguin in Toy Story 2 (1999), and for sensitive third grader Mikey on the Disney Channel's Recess (1998-2001).

In 2005, two years before his death, Goulet took over the role of Georges, owner of the nightclub and Albin's partner in the Broadway revivial of  La Cage aux Folles.  It was like a final shout-out to the gay fans who had followed him for half a century.


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