Friday, March 28, 2014

Hard to believe, but in the early 1970s super-heroes DID NOT rule the movie theater box office. Instead, they were relegated to ultra-cheap Saturday morning live-action TV shows.

Such was "Shazam!", a live action series starring (initially) Jackson Bostwick as Captain Marvel, the hunky Michael Gray as Billy Batson, and Les Tremayne as Billy's mentor -- a man named, yes, "Mentor". Bostwick was fired shows into the second season for not showing up for the day's shoot. He'd injured himself the day before and was seeking medical treatment. The producers fired him on the spot and replaced with him John Davey, a man 15 years older with a big beer-belly. Because there was no time to execute a costume redesign, Davey was jammed into Bostwick's spandex uniform -- creating an extremely inappropriate bulge "down there".

Each 30-minute segment was a cheap morality tale -- anti-semitism is bad, stealing is wrong, you should help old people, don't cheat in school. Looking back, it's pretty appalling. But it's still better than the "buy this toy" attitude of modern cartoons.

Bostwick sued the producers after being fired. He won, and received a whole year's pay for their idiocy.

They drove a Winnebago, like a couple of old folks.






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Oh, Michael! That hair! Those dark good looks!


Billy usually went for moral help from the Greco-Roman gods and Bible heroes who give Captain Marvel his powers: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. These were painted figures. Only their mouths moved. It was cheap then, and it's still cheap.



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