Who are these Very Sissy Men?

Throughout the history of motion pictures and television, and continuing to this day, there is a certain type of man who is neither the strong man nor the everyman, but the type of man for whom the sight of a pretty woman brings to mind the thought; “Where’d she get those shoes?” This man is the Sissy Man. No more is he assigned to the land of supporting players as the best friend or unctuous authority figure, in this blog, he is put up front and center where he belongs. You will see a number at the bottom of every Very Sissy Man. This is our very own “Sissy scale.” We rate the selected “Sissies,” from zero to ten. (Zero being John Wayne, a Sissy Man only because he walked sprightly in his spurs; and ten being a man who undoubtedly continues to live the life of a sissy long after the camera has stopped rolling-- think Liberace.) In addition to the Sissy rating, each entry contains a brief, humorous biography, along with a picture that conveys the very essence of the actor’s sissiness. Enjoy!

Sir Evelyn De La Fontaine, Esq.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Jim J Bullock AKA Jm J Bullock

February 9, 1955

                  You can try to ignore Jim J Bullock, but we guarantee you won’t be able to do it. The tall, annoying, flamboyant yet strangely likeable force that is Jim J is one of those TV stars you either love or hate, but you certainly can’t ignore.  Born in Casper, Wyoming, this fantasy offspring of Paul Lynde and Martha Raye came to fame in the late ‘80s on the television series, Too Close for Comfort.  In the ‘90s, he briefly inherited the center square on The New Hollywood Squares.  Then, late in the decade, the planets aligned and paired Jim J with the equally annoying yet strangely likable Tammy Faye Baker to create the afternoon talk show/train wreck known as The Jim J and Tammy Faye Show.  It lasted barely a year. Apparently, you can only take the annoying aspect for so long. 


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Very Sissy Man: "Norman Bates"

“Norman Bates”
from the movie Psycho (1960)
played by Anthony Perkins (April 4, 1932 - Sept. 12, 1992)

                  Was there ever another Mama’s Boy like Norman Bates? Just a shy, nervous young man with a sweet tooth for candy corn, running an out-of-the-way motel. Then sexy blonde Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) shows up, and Norman feels a little, um... confused. Under the watchful eyes of all of those birds (which he stuffed himself; it’s a hobby), he plays Peeping Tom (another hobby). But there’s Mother up at the house. Norman has a talk with her and thinks Mother is just a tiny bit jealous. So, that leaves only one thing he can do: Hide Mother’s corpse in the cellar, dress in her clothes, stab the naked blonde to death with a kitchen knife, then blame it all on Mom!
         Well, we all go a little crazy sometimes.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Very Sissy Man: Joe Besser

Joe Besser

Aug. 12, 1907 - March 1, 1988

                  Imagine a short, pudgy, bald, middle-aged man dressed like a spoiled schoolboy of a half-century earlier. Picture a plump Buster Brown with a whiney voice, an oversize lollipop in one hand, willing to throw a tantrum at any time; a bratty “kid” in short pants called Stinky, a name he lived up to on Abbott & Costello’s television show. “You crazy, yoooou!”  His name was Joe Besser, and he was sissy enough to steal scenes from Lou Costello.
         Joe is probably most famous for being the third “third stooge”, replacing Shemp in The Three Stooges. (Joe and Shemp were friends.) He didn’t wear the Buster Brown outfit, but nothing else changed. Moe and Larry seemed baffled by Joe, who pinched, attempted a fey punch --well, slap-- with the underside of his fist, and responded to any attempt at the usual Stooge-foolery with  “Not so harrrrd!”   If there was ever a perfect sissy, it was Joe Besser.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Very Sissy Man: Paul Lynde

Paul Lynde
June 13, 1926 - Jan. 10, 1982

                  Sarcastic is the word that comes to mind when thinking of Paul Lynde. He made a name for himself with Bye, Bye Birdie, both on Broadway and in the movie. Paul is best remembered as the center square on the TV game show The Hollywood Squares for his sharp, often double-entendre responses to the host’s questions. His delivery was wickedly snide, his nose wrinkling in barely contained contempt. What do you call a man who gives you diamonds and pearls?  “I’d call him darling!”  Why do Hell’s Angels wear leather?  “Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.”  According to the famous quote, a little what is a dangerous thing?  “A little pervert.”
          “I’m Liberace without the piano,” he said of himself. Not really. His fashion sense was better. No one wore a knotted scarf around their neck as well.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Very Sissy Man: Eddie Cantor

Eddie Cantor
born Israel Iskowitz

Jan. 31, 1892 - Oct. 10, 1964

             Oh, Mama!”  Eddie Cantor was a star of Vaudeville, Broadway, recordings, radio, movies and TV, doing it all with a high, fey singing voice, a skipping, prancing dance style, and pitty-pat hand claps. To top it off, Eddie did so much eye-rolling that he was nicknamed Banjo Eyes. But no one blinked when he sang, “Ma, He’s Making Eyes at Me” without changing the pronoun. Maybe no one else could have gotten away with it. “Oh, behave!”  His sly interpretation of the song “Making Whoopee” has never been bettered.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Very Sissy Man: Charles Nelson Reilly

Charles Nelson Reilly

January 13, 1931 - May 25, 2007

                  Charles Nelson Reilly, with his unique throaty, chortle and large framed glasses, often sported a scarf fashionably knotted around his neck. Were he and Paul Lynde separated at birth? Both made names for themselves on Broadway in Bye, Bye, Birdie, Reilly as Dick Van Dyke s understudy. (Reilly also won a Tony for his part in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.) From there it was continued popularity on a variety of television shows (including a co-starring stint on The Ghost & Mrs. Muir). Finally, also like Lynde, in the ‘70s and ‘80s he became a popular (and the longest-running) guest on a game show, in this case The Match Game. Unlike Lynde, he wasn’t bitter about it. “When I die, it’s going to read, ‘Game Show Fixture Passes Away’. Nothing about the theater, or Tony Awards, or Emmys. But it doesn’t bother me.”
         Reilly also directed and taught theater, and performed an autobiographical one-man show. But in the biggest difference between he and Paul Lynde, Reilly was actually enjoying himself, onscreen and off. “The thing that’s funny is that everyone thinks I m dead.” It must have been that personality which made him a guest on the Tonight Show 95 times.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Very Sissy Man: Liberace

born Wladziu (Walter) Valentino Liberace

May 16, 1919 - Feb. 4, 1987

            If Sissy Men had a queen, it would be Liberace, and not only because he d be the only one with a tiara at the ready. Playing piano at age 4, by his teens he was using the name “Walter Busterkeys” and earning a living by tickling the ivories in clubs, theaters, on the radio, and at weddings. “Flamboyant” should have been his middle name. By adulthood there was a candelabrum on his piano and, with a fashion sense which can only be described as delirious, a continually increasing profusion of sequins and mirrors everywhere. “Too much of a good thing--is wonderful!” 
         Long a fixture in Las Vegas, Liberace’s show included an (appropriately) Peter Pan-like flight over the stage on wires, with his giddy cry of “Eat your heart out, Mary Poppins!”
      “Mr. Showmanship”, as he later styled himself, never married because he was “waiting for the right woman to come along.”


Very Sissy Man: James Millhollin

James Millhollin

August 23, 1915 - May 23, 1993

James Millhollin, with his sad, slightly bulging eyes, turned down smile and nervous flutterings, was best known for playing nervous, prissy and easily overwhelmed men. When the script called for a persnickety bureaucrat or fussy sales manager, casting directors called Millhollin.
What? You recognize the face, but can’t quite place it? Sure, you know him. Remember that one Twilight Zone where the woman is in the department store and later she finds out she’s a mannequin? He’s the one who keeps telling her there isn’t a ninth floor. Oh, yeah! Him!


Very Sissy Man: Edward Everett Horton

Edward Everett Horton

March 18, 1886 - Sept. 29, 1970
     Ah, the avuncular Edward Everett Horton. He was the uncle you should have had. At ease in slippers or a tuxedo. Pleasant, dry-witted, careful when stepping (or being dragged) into potentially treacherous situations that will affect the romantic outcome for the leading man and lady, which he commented on with a rapid-fire, “Oh dear oh dear oh dear tsk tsk tsk...” He was usually the hero’s best friend, dispensing droll advice and quiet predictions of doom to the likes of Fred Astaire and Cary Grant. And as the movie made its way to the end, there was always Edward Everett’s double-take, one of the best in the business: a contented smile which disintegrated into an alarm verging on horror.  
     Listen for him as the not always unflappable narrator of the Fractured Fairy Tales cartoons. There you can hear his nonchalant acceptance of the unconventional, with an unspoken C’est la vie!