Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rant #807: Pop Stars Celebration

During the mod 1960s, anything could happen, or so it seemed.

Newness was everywhere, new ways of doing things were everywhere, too, and the culture of television was taking hold--in color!

Two stars from that era just happen to be celebrating birthdays today on the same day, and during those early days of color TV, they were among the hottest stars on the planet.

Today, David McCallum--Illya Kuryakin on "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and Adam West, Batman/Bruce Wayne on "Batman," turn 78and 84 years of age, respectively.

During the pop 1960s, these two shows were among the most popular programs on the landscape, showcasing secret agents, comic book heroes, and splashes of color that had really not been seen before.

True, color had been around on TV before--namely on "Bonanza," where color was used to sell TV sets--but color had not been used to the extent that it was on these two programs.

On "U.N.C.L.E.," color was used to highlight the good guys versus the bad guys, namely T.H.R.U.S.H.

McCallum's character--the dashing Russian, and during the Cold War yet--along with Napoleon Solo, played by Robert Vaughn--kept the world safe from the evil-doers. Throw in Leo G. Carroll, and heck, we knew that we would all be safe, at least until the next episode.

On "Batman," the world was truly topsy-turvy. Weird camera angles highlighted the evilness of villains like the Penguin and the Joker, and color was splashed all over the screen as West and his cohort Robin--Burt Ward--battled the bad guys.

Both shows shared one element. They were both done pretty much tongue in cheek, and that stance made McCallum and West teenybopper stars to the extreme.

McCallum, in particular, was highlighted in Tiger Beat and such magazines, often alongside Davy Jones, Peter Noone and---Jonathan Frid, another unlikely pop icon.

But the world moves on, and those shows faded into reruns.

The two continued their careers, to varying degrees of success--McCallum is a cast member of the highly popular NCIS TV show, West has done numerous commercials and voice work--but to the Baby Boomers, McCallum and West will always be two of the top pop icons from that wonderful era.

Happy birthday to both, and if an evil villain enters my midst, I will call on both of you to help me.

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