Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rant #723: Then Came ... Michael Parks

As my own birthday nears, I pay homage to a person who just happens to have a birthday today. The guy is something of a mere footnote on the 1960s, but he is a survivor, still active, and although in his 70s, he is still a name that you probably remember if you grew up during that time.

Michael Parks, from the TV show "Then Came Bronson," is 72 today.

Parks had the look and the feel to make it big in the late 1960s. He had that bad-boy look that made him appear as if he were the small-screen equivalent of Steve McQueen. Riding on a motorcycle each week to take on new challenges, Parks became something of a teen idol during the "Then Came Bronson" run from 1969-1970.

His characterization of Jim Bronson was that of a loner, but one who got involved. He was part of the youth culture of the time, but seemingly had one hand in it and one hand in the old street cred that if you get in my way, I will take care of you.

Not very peace and love, but it did make the series a cult classic.

He also recorded a few albums during that time, and actually had a top 20 hit with the show's theme, "Long Lonesome Highway," which barely scraped into the Top 20 in 1969.

The show was never a huge hit, but it had its core following, and was released in Europe as a theatrical theme, with more adult content added in. After the show ended, he appeared in numerous movies and TV shows, including "The Colbys" TV show, and "Kill Bill" Parts 1 and 2.

No, he never became a huge star, but he's another one of these actors who guarantees a good performance no matter what he does. And even into his 70s, he continues to have that scruffy look, perfect for character actor roles.

But no matter what role he plays, fans will always remember him as the title character in "Then Came Bronson," which by the way, was in production well before the biker flick to end all biker flicks, "Easy Rider" germinated into a film.

But the two are somewhat linked because of their content, and "Then Came Bronson" pretty much always gets short shrift as a TV ripoff of the theatrical film.

I don't think that's true, and certainly, as a kid watching this show, I didn't even link the two.

But anyway, happy birthday to Michael Parks. He should ride that motorcycle for the next 72 years.

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