"Seventies Teen Idol Freakout"
by Katy Krassner
I guess loyalty wasn't part of my vocab while I was growing up. Here I am
agreeing to explore the crushes I've had on boy celebrities throughout my
early hormonal life, and I quickly realize I had been a Teen Beat slut. I
would flit from one boy-toy to the next at the drop of a hat (or the
appearance of a zit on my guy of the moment). Save for Leif Garrett (yucky
yellow hair) and the DeFranco Family (bad Osmond wannabes), there wasn't a
teen mag guy that didn't grab my attention. If my bedroom walls could talk...
Jeff and Joe Fithian
The first studs that caught my eye were the adorable Tracy and Trevor from
Please Don't Eat the Daisies ('65-'67). Since I was born in 1968, I guess it
was the magic of reruns that set my three-year-old heart aflutter. For those
not in the know, PDETD focused on the misadventures of the Nash boys: Kyle,
Joel, Tracy, and Trevor, along with loyal and lovable sheepdog, Ladadog. I
luved Jeff and Joe, even if I couldn't tell them apart.
I crushed major on this little guy, the middle child of the Everett family on
Nanny and the Professor ('70-'71). Trent played moody Butch, and my fave
episode revolved around a school bully problem and an inflatable clown that
served as a punching bag. Sadly, I have learned that Trent since committed
suicide by hanging.
The star of my favorite show, Brandon starred as Eddie Corbett on The
Courtship of Eddie's Father ('69-'72). Besides starring a total boy-babe,
Courtship also had a killer theme song ("People, let me tell you 'bout my
best friend, baaaah, ba, ba, ba, ba, bum") and a neat episode ender, where
Eddie would always ask his dad (Bill Bixby, R.I.P.) a series of "only a kid
would ask" questions. After Courtship, Brandon sort of fell out of sight,
only to turn up four years later as Joey Turner in the film Bad News Bears.
As a rival team pitcher who gets smacked by his pop (Vic Morrow, R.I.P.) for
trying to bean The Bears' pitcher Mike Engelbert, Brandon had obviously grown
as an actor. Such drama when he held the ball so the Bears could score a run,
then dropped it in spite at his dad's feet.
After Courtship, I got into The Brady Bunch ('69-'74) in a big way, and
Bobby, most of all. My favorite episode was when Bobby, the big loser, went on
the Kartoon King show to prove he wasn't a spaz and lost the "hands-tied-
behind-your-back-eat-all-the-ice-cream-from-your-dish" contest. Once Bobby
stopped putting the black rinse in his hair and went orange, I was over him.
And the braces didn't help either.
The second Chris to drum for the family Partridge ('70-'74), Bri was way
hipper than that dorky Chris #1, Jeremy Gelbwaks (a Jewish Partridge? C'mon),
and he really looked as though he was beating those skins. Though Chris and
his tambourine-playing sister Tracy never got to do much. I remember one show
where they ran away to Reuben's house, which was one of my favorite episodes
except for Laurie getting a radio transmission through her braces. You'd think
with all the money the Partridges made touring, Shirley could've found her a
The Bay City Rollers
The Rollers were all over the teen mags, so try as I might, I couldn't really
avoid them. I didn't really like them either, but my seventh summer was spent
at Pierce Day Camp and my counselor was crazy about the boys from Bay City.
She had our bunk singing "S.A.T.U.R.D.A.Y. Night!" at the top of our little
lungs, and in an attempt to impress her, I "picked" Derek Longmuir as my
John and Tom Keane
The forgotten Keane Brothers Show ('77) was a half-hour variety show hosted
by twelve-year-old Tom and his thirteen-year-old brother John Keane. I can't
really remember who was Tom and who was John, but one of them played the drums
and had braces. Sigh.
The Boys of ABC Saturday Morning
Some smart TV exec of the mid-'70s realized that cartoons were getting lame
and kids needed live action on Saturday morning. Quicker than you could say
Teen Beat, these were the fellows I looked forward to seeing on weekends.
Fresh from The Brady Bunch came Robbie "Cousin Oliver the Jinx" Rist, who
starred in Big John, Little John ('76-'77). BJLJ told the tale of a
forty-five-year-old man (Herb Edelman, R.I.P.) who drank from the Fountain of
Youth and thereafter changed into a twelve-year-old (Rob-er-roo) at
inopportune times. Another fave was Thunder ('77-'78), about a horse that
was stabled with future Lambada star Melora Hardin and her foxy brother
Willie (Justin Randi). Shazam ('74-'77) starred long-locked Billy Gray as
long-locked Billy Batson, who could turn into Captain Marvel by uttering,
"Shazam!" Most memorable was The Red Hand Gang ('77-'78), which revolved
around young supersleuths led by Matthew Laborteaux. Laborteaux would later
turn up as morphine-addicted ragamuffin Albert on Little House on the
Prairie with his real-life brother Patrick.
Todd Turquand, Shane Sinutko, Rad Daly, and Paul King
I've lumped these guys together because they ended up as a crush for only a
month or two. Todd was a regular on The New Mickey Mouse Club, which also
starred a young Lisa Whelchel (who'd go on to great stardom as Blair on The
Facts of Life and later marry a preacher and have a ton of kids!). Shane was
actually a good actor, best known for his star turn in My Mom's Having a
Baby. He would pop up on this sitcom and that family drama, and I even recall
a Love Boat episode, but Shane seemed to fade from the limelight. Rad had a
small role on the television version of The Bad News Bears, but was all over
the teen mags. He was a total babe, and one of the neat secret facts about him
was that his real name was Robert Anthony Daly, and Rad was just a nickname
derived from his initials! Do you think his publicist thought of that? Paul,
on the other hand, was only a guest star on such shows as Archie Bunker's
Place (as Danielle Brisebois's boyfriend, natch!), but Tiger Beat et al.
covered him like the Second Coming. Paul contributed nothing to the world of
entertainment but paid his dues to teen idoldom by looking very cute indeed in
his variety of Izod shirts.
Besides Rad, the TV show The Bad News Bears ('79-'80) showcased tough guy
Meeno Peluce, who played tough guy Tanner Boyle. I really appreciated the way
Meeno invited Teen Beat readers into his home for photo ops. I dug his
leather wristbands, sleeveless tees, and sultry sneer. Meeno would later go on
to star in Voyagers with Jon-Erik Hexum (R.I.P.), be a model big bro for
real-life sister Soleil Moon Frye, and hang around with the future ex-Mrs.
Michael Jackson (Lisa Marie, duh!) during Lisa's chubby stage. Way to go,
Or as I like to refer to him, my WASP phase. I got hooked on the Ricker when
The Champ came out. After that day, it seemed my whole life revolved around
the moptop from Staten Island. I had to see The Earthling (William Holden,
R.l.P.) the day it opened. I had to have the same white baseball jersey with
yellow sleeves that Ricky wore in The Last Flight of Noah's Ark. I had to be
glued to the set for the television premiere of Little Lord Fauntleroy. So
hot in those knickers and ruffled shirts. During my full-on Ricky stage, I
found a pen pal from the back of Tiger Beat magazine who was as passionate for
Ricky as I was. We corresponded for a while, traded stories, Ricky articles,
fantasies, and even swapped photos. I sent my fifth-grade school picture, but
there was something terribly off-putting about the photo of a thirty-seven-
year-old woman I received in return. My days as a Ricky fan quickly came to an
The first true love of my life. It still hurts to talk about our unrequited
love. I chanted the theme song to Eight Is Enough as if it were my mantra
("...and eight is enough to fill our lives with love"), had an Eight Is
Enough T-shirt, and even wrote to Adam care of ABC so I could get a faux
autographed picture of the cast. I even went so far as to ask the doctor who
performed my tonsillectomy to make sure I was out of anesthesia by 8 P.M. the
Wednesday night of my op. Unlike most youngest children on family shows, Adam
was the focus of many episodes, my favorite being a two-parter where Nicholas
went on the lam after he left the soldering tool plugged in and burnt down
part of the Bradford home. Horrifically, my parents began to use my love of
all things Adam as a method of punishment around the Krassner household,
banning viewership of Eight Is Enough when I misbehaved or removing pictures
of Adam from my wall when I really ticked them off. I mourned the day Eight Is
Enough was canceled and blamed that creepy Ralph Macchio who played Abby's
nephew Jeremy Andretti during the last season. When Ralph would later turn up
in The Outsiders (stellar cast, by the way) I was perversely pleased when he
died saving those kids in the fire. But did Pony Boy have to keep hearing his
voice all the time ("Stay golden, Pony, stay golden")? Annoying! Adam would go
on to star in the films The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh and The Devil and Max
Devlin, plus the short-lived television show Code Red with Lorne Greene and
Fickle little miss, wasn't I? Thank god I am over that stage of my life and
can now spend my free time doing constructive things like watching Jonathan
Taylor Thomas on Home Improvement. Talk about foxy...
- Excerpted from Retro Hell (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1997).
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