Growing up, I was in love with Little Joe Cartwright. How could you not be? He was so cute!
In the mid-‘60s, TV westerns were the best place to find a wagon load of gorgeous guys. My favorite was Bonanza. And not just because of the curly-haired, mischievous, and dimpled Little Joe. Some episodes I was drawn to the dark-haired handsome Adam who always dressed in black and was so wise and mature. Other times I even fell for Hoss; for such a big guy he was dadburned gentle. (Although what was the deal with their clothes? As rich as they were, you’d think the Cartwright boys could have afforded more than one outfit.)
My preferences changed weekly, depending on which of the boys was taking a girl for a buggy ride and picnic. But did you ever notice that going on a picnic with one of the Cartwright boys usually ended in death for the unlucky woman of the week? Once I realized that, I scratched that romantic scenario and moved on to the Barkley brothers over at The Big Valley.
Problem was, not one of the Barkleys alone had all the characteristics on my wish list. I yearned for the intelligence of Jarrod, the strength and raw masculinity of Nick, and the sensitivity of Heath. (Later, Heath became The Six-Million-Dollar Man, so I could have had two out of three in one package if I’d only known.)
Finally, there was The High Chaparral with Big John Cannon, his happy-go-lucky brother, Buck, sensitive son Blue, and flirtatious brother-in-law Manolito Montoya. Manolito was the dashing and charming ladies’ man who made my heart flutter every Sunday night. But my tween heart was fickle and some weeks I’d give my heart to Big John, the gruff family patriarch who reminded me of John Wayne. And a couple times I gave it to Buck, the fighting, free-spirited, Civil War vet who deep down didn’t think he deserved the love of a good woman. I wanted to show him he did. And then of course, there was the sweet, young “Blue Boy,” always trying to prove himself to his daddy. I fell in love with his beautiful blue eyes and sweet spirit.
But it wasn’t just the guys of TV Westerns who won my tweenage heart. I also fell for the dynamic secret-agent duo in The Man From Uncle. Although Illya Kuryakin was arguably the cuter of the two with his black turtlenecks, intensity, and thatch of blonde hair, I usually swooned over the cool suaveness and sophistication of international ladies’ man Napoleon Solo in his ubiquitous suits and tuxedo. A world away from the blue-collar guys in my factory town.
And of course the crème de la creme of my romantic childhood yearnings was Davy Jones of The Monkees who made a daydream believer out of me.
What about you? Who were some of your childhood TV crushes?