Honoring A True Hollywood Legend: A 'Man's Man'
THESE ARE THE ELITE OF THE 'MAN'S MAN'
I’m a man. Not a great man. Not a famous man. And certainly not an intelligent man. But when all is said and done and day’s end comes, I look into my mirror and I am still, only a man. I have many faults, flaws and things about my character that need to be corrected as my life progresses. I have no intention of hurting anyone--man or beast for the remainder of my life. I suppose that with age, (should) come wisdom, but in my case, personal conviction and determination, not wisdom, came to me making me want to build people up, not tear them down.
With that being said, I want to ask all you men, “Are you a man’s man?” I do not mean any insidious implications by that question. I only mean to find out if any of my men readers consider themselves a ’man’s man’ and talk about that subject for a little while. Certainly you can let the yard mowing, gardening, and washing the SUV go for a few minutes. Can’t you?
I want to share “my” definition of the term ’man’s man.’ I see a ’man’s man’ as a man who is as comfortable with other guys as he is with the ladies. A ’man’s man’ is interested in things of our world such as fishing; hunting; camping; building log cabins in the woods; hiking; motorcycle riding; sports; collecting firearms and vintage vehicles. Am I right, men, with my definition of a ’man’s man?
I started hearing this term, ’man’s man,’ about the mid-1970’s when the NBC series, Grizzly Adams, with Dan Haggerty, was one of their hit shows. Haggerty was the image of a true ’man’s man’ as he wore a magnificent full-beard, had perfect teeth, long, thick hair, and smiled a lot. He was his own man with his own mind. No one told Haggerty what to think or do. Survival in the wilderness was child’s play for this television icon. I loved his best friend, a brown grizzly bear who loved him.
As a teenager, I secretly admired Haggerty and dreamed of running away from home to survive in ’a’ wilderness somewhere far away. That, plus all of my teenage dreams, vanished as adulthood reared it’s realistic head and I started to learn how to be a realistic, sensible, and settled man of 22. Did I fully-rid my imagination of fantasies about catching fish bare-handed, starting a fire with nothing but a couple of rocks, and making my own shelter in the woods for my home? No. I admit that I had a few imaginary moments where I would look back on my teenage dream of following Grizzly Adams--walking in his moccasin prints and being a real man of the world.
Who was I kidding? I was now a new husband and father with a job and heavy responsibilities. I was no survivalist who thrived in the woods. Bears wouldn’t take to me except maybe as a small snack on their way to bigger feasts. I believe that when my daughter, Angela, was born, I said farewell to Dan Haggerty and the adventure-filled days of Grizzly Adams. And the grizzly too.
But no sooner than I had settled into my complicated role(s) as husband, father and provider, I began to see more television shows and movies that cast many of Hollywood’s most-famous men as the ‘man’s man’--rekindling my secret desires to be on my own in the forests, eat raw fish, and sleep underneath the stars. If I had told my wife about my dreams, she would of course, first listen to me until I finished my visions, then she would slightly laugh and say, “Now, Kenny. You know that those men on television that you admire are only actors doing a job. You cannot be those guys. You have a job, a wife and a baby girl to care for.” My wife always had and has just the right choices of words to make me feel ashamed of what I dream and to make me feel guilty of even having a desire like other men in life. I guess she was, and is right. I was not cut out to be a man’s man. But she can also thank our God that too, I am not a ‘ladies man’ either.
Men like Matthew McConaughey in the movie, “How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days,” to me, was a near-ideal ‘man’s man’ as he had a high-paying executive position in an advertising firm, had plenty of close buddies that he had over (to his all-guy decorated apartment) to play poker--drinking Budweiser’s, smoking cigars, and doing pretty much as he pleased. This is a real ‘man’s man.’ But he did fall in love with the female character played by Kate Hudson, and somehow his ‘man’s man’ image was shot down in flames.
Colin Farrell is another young Hollywood male star that really pushes past McConaughey in the ‘man’s man’ imagery. He formerly, on a weekly basis, drank gallons of whiskey, smoked packs of cigarettes, stayed in perfect physical shape and easily-starred in many successful motion pictures. Women of all ages swooned and gasped for air as he walked onto stages of talk shows, “Late Night with David Letterman,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and other shows that are geared for celebrities to plug their latest best-selling book, film, or Broadway play. For Farrell’s role as a ‘man’s man’ of 2011, I could do without the booze and smokes, for I am too old to do those due to these chemical pleasures might kill me. But I could try enjoying the hordes of beautiful starlets who would give their salon-designed hair to be with Farrell. I wouldn’t think that taking a beautiful starlet out to dinner at an expensive restaurant in Hollywood or Los Angeles, maybe New York, would be detrimental to my health. I could be wrong on that one also.
After a time of tough, determined research, I found that ‘men’s men’ were around in the early days of television. Look at the most-successful westerns such as: Maverick, starring James Garner, (the other Maverick brother, Jack Kelly and the uppity English cousin, Beau, Roger Moore, were, to me, non-Maverick’s); Cheyenne’s Clint Walker with a Superman-like body; Cool Hand Luke with Paul Newman who starred in other successful motion pictures such as: Cat On a Hot Tin Roof with then-sex kitten, Elizabeth Taylor, Cool Hand Luke; The Sting (with another ‘man’s man, Robert Redford); The Verdict and many more; Steve McQueen, who starred in early westerns in his own series, Wanted Dead or Alive and his most-memorable film, The Great Escape which also starred our buddy, James Garner and I could go on, but I want to give homage to a few more ‘men’s men’ to show my deep respect for their lives and how they touched my heart and soul in their various avenues of entertainment.
If I were hard-pressed to compile ‘THE’ list of men who were ‘men’s men’ as well as being instantly-attractive to the ladies, I would want the following men to be on my list for I do not want them looking down from Heaven and not seeing their names in my personal salute. What’s worse is they all might gang-up to seek vengeance on me when I make it to Heaven and I certainly wouldn’t have that to happen.
STEVE MCQUEEN . . .
was good-looking, witty, sharp-dressed and confident in any role he was chosen for. McQueen loved the action movies such as Bullit, a story about his role as a San Francisco detective. The chase scene with him in a Mustang--chasing the criminals over the rolling hills of San Francisco still today rates as the best action scene in modern fim history. McQueen had a knack for the western. He starred in the early 60's as Josh Randle, a western bounty hunter in Wanted: Dead or Alive. What people will talk about the most is McQueen's role in The Great Escape where he tormented his Nazi captors with his playful antics and when the P.O.W.s did escape, McQueen had requested and got a motorcycle to use in his personal escape scene where he rode over small ridges in the German countryside--jumping barbed wire fences to the delight of audiences. McQueen was the rough and tumble man's man.
JAMES GARNER . . .
with his charming good-looks won the hearts and loyalty of anyone who enjoyed his talents as Bret Maverick, professional gambler and occasional ladie's man. The series, Maverick, a Warner Bros. Studios production, led the way with the westerns that Warner Bros. produced in the mid-60's--Bronco, with Ty Hardin; Sugar Foot with Will Hutchins as well as Cheyenne, with Clint Walker. Garner also had a starring role as "Scrounger" in The Great Escape and had a super-hit detective series on NBC entitled, The Rockford Files that co-starred Noah Berry as Jim Rockford's dad. Garner's long film credits include: Secrets of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Murphy's Romance with Sally Field.
CLINT WALKER . . .
was probably at the top of the 'man's man' list. Built like Superman, Clint Walker was easily-cast in the role that gave him most of his success: Cheyenne, a mega-famous western from Warner Bros. Studios. Walker's soft-spoken voice charmed the ladies while his muscular physique helped to put lawbreakers in their place. Walker also had a supportive role in the hit film, The Dirty Dozen as "Posey" one of the covincts that Lee Marvin, used to go behind the lines and fight the Nazis. The Dirty Dozen also had the talents of Telly Savalas, former NFL great, Jim Brown, and legendary actor, Ernest Borgnine.
MICHAEL CAINE . . .
was cast in many of Hollywood's films that called for a suave, debonair, and stylish leading men. Caine, with his perfect pronounctuation and graceful screen presence was seen in films such as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels which also starred Steve Martin, Miss Congenality with Sandra Bullock and Batman. Caine was so versatile and multi-talented that his name was always at the top of most casting agents not only in Hollywood, but across the world.
HUMPHREY BOGART . . .
Cigarette-smoking, liquor-drinking, fist-fighting private eye roles and films that cast “Bogie” as the outcast, the loner and many times, an outlaw, made Humphrey Bogart a highly-respected star in Hollywood’s ‘heyday.’ His films are still honored today as some of Hollywood’s finest works on film. The African Queen with another Hollywood fixture, Kathryn Hepburn, was an instant-classic on the day it was first released--forging the talents of Bogart and Hepburn was one of the wisest moves that any movie producer could ever make. And everyone, man and woman, at one time or another, has ‘their own’ “See ya’ latuh, sweetheart,’ impression of Bogart. Then people always call to the conversation, Key Largo with co-star, Lauren Bacall; Casablanca; The Maltese Falcon and many gangster films where Bogart easily portrayed the perfect gangster.
JOHN WAYNE . . .
Or “The Duke,” has a list of films way too long for me to write about. The Sons of Katie Elder; The Green Beret; True Grit; Rio Lobo; The Shootist; Big Jake; Angel and The Bad Man; The Fighting Kentuckian; Hell Fighters and like I said, Wayne’s list of movies are not only revered as true classic works of art, but heraled as the main foundation that helped to build early Hollywood as the Movie Capitol of The World. John Wayne’s hard-nose style of character fit him like a glove. His no-nonsense approach to making movies also gave him the respect from fellow actors who were blessed to even be on the same set as Wayne. Now John Wayne didn’t claim to be a saint, but he did pride himself as being a true American as he recorded several narratives about Our Land The United States and how great it is to be an American--these were added-bonuses for his already-incredible list of hit motion pictures. As for not being a saint, he was known for his two-fisted drinking with his pals such as, “Iron Eyes,” Cody, the American Indian who starred in an early anti-litter campaign in the United States with Cody sitting atop his horse and the only ‘dialogue’ was a tear running down Cody’s face as the public service ad faded to black.You cannot talk about Hollywood, at all, unless the name, John Wayne is mentioned. To me personally, Hollywood lost a key segment of success with films with the passing of this modern-day legend, John Wayne.
MICHAEL LANDON . . .
“Little Joe,” Cartwright (one of the three original Cartwright brothers on The Ponderosa) is what Michael Landon is best-remembered. Joseph, as Ben (Lorne Greene) Cartwright would call him, helped to make Bonanza a huge money-maker for NBC in the ‘pioneer’ days of western television shows that featured a novel invention: color. Bonanza also had Dan Blocker, ‘Hoss,’ and Pernell Roberts as ‘Adam.’ ‘Joe Cartwright’s’ carefree, easy-going character was a stark contrast to Landon in real life. Landon was mostly-serious at-heart and took every film or production idea seriously and worked tirelessly until ‘he’ was satisfied. This single trait of dedication earned him the title of ‘workaholic’ in the production of his films. You can easily see his burning dedication to perfection on the hit series, Highway to Heaven, with the late Victor French who also co-starred with Landon (Charles Ingles) on another hit series, Little House on The Prairie. Landon left us years ago after his long battle with liver cancer. I can never watch Bonanza without feeling so depressed at Landon’s sad departure from life as well as our television history, in my opinion, way too early.
PETER FALK . . .
Is now deceased, but left behind many memorable television contributions as Colombo and an early lawyer-based show, The Trials of O’Brien. Falk was a natural for films and television shows. His acting and delivering of lines looked as easy as him taking a drink of water. Falk had a keen sense of humor and let it show at one of the Dean Martin Roasts as Falk helped to ‘make fun’ of The Chairman of The Board, Frank ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ Sinatra. All on-the-spot improvisation, Falk walked from the audience dressed in his famous Colombo raincoat and holding his unlit cigar, proceeded to mildly-’rip’ Sinatra with sharp one-liners that Sinatra had put his head on the table for laughing so hard at Falk’s made-up comedy routine. Falk could handle any film or television role that was handed to him and all with the grace of an accented visual arts ballerina, Falk never missed his cues, or marks. A true professional in every respect of the entertainment industry. Falk was one of the ‘great ones,’ and will surely be missed as time goes by.
PAUL NEWMAN . . .
could easily be tagged as 'the' leading 'man's man of Hollywood. Newman's steely-blue eyes and chiseled features gave him numerous opportunities to entertain audiences of all ages. In classic films such as, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof which starred Elizabeth Taylor, Burl Ives and Tony Franciosa, Newman's natural talent for acting was instantly received by the audiences who also enjoyed his talent in The Sting which also starred Robert Redford and Ray Walston and the explosive successful The Color of Money with a young Tom Cruise. Newman, after retiring from films, turned his attention to racing Indy-style cars and with his wife, Joanna, devoted much of their time to ridding the world of unwanted litter. Newman also launched his own brand of tasty and healthy spaghetti sauce.
SYLVESTER STALLONE . . .
will mostly be remembered as ‘Rocky’ Balboa’ in the ‘monster-hit’ Rocky that Stallone wrote, directed and produced. The plot was not new. It was the classic ‘underdog fights his way to the top’ style of film that when it was released, caused millions to come back to watch the film numerous times. Stallone carried the ‘Balboa’ character so well, you would swear that Stallone was actually filming his own personal life. After scoring tons of success with the ‘Rocky’- series of films, not a flop in the bunch, Stallone hit it out of the park with a film called, First Blood, the story about a Special Forces soldier, John Rambo, who was, as his commanding officer, Col. Samuel Trautman, (Richard Crenna) said, “was the best,” at acting upon his military training of surviving and fighting (against all odds) in any surroundings. First Blood scored so high with viewers that Stallone wrote, produced and directed two more ‘Rambo’ films that also raked-in the dough. It’s like Stallone and King Midas being gifted with the “Midas touch” of everything they touch turning to gold. Sylvester Stallone also wrote, directed and produced the last Rocky film where he fought a new challenger and took the character, Rocky Balboa, back to his humble beginnings where he started from. Stallone and men on this list could all easily-qualify and make the Ultimate List of Men’s Men.
And with that, I want to say to all these famous and celebrated men:
“From this below-average man, ‘thank you all’ for being a ‘man’s man.’ I appreciate you all for the great work you have all contributed to the film and television industry.”
And you will never know how ‘much manly-courage’ it took for me to admit to you and my readers that I am far from being anything close to you, a real ‘man’s man.’