Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bill Bixby


In going through Hulk material for the blog, I began to think about one person who doesn't get enough recognition for not only his contributions to Hulk history, but for his body of work in general--TV's David Banner, Bill Bixby. In the midst of all the Hulkery of late, I've decided to give the late Bixby his due.

On The Incredible Hulk, Bixby gave the David Banner character a nobility, an everyman quality that people could relate to, and an earnestness that endeared him to viewers who hoped he would find the cure that would set him free of the Hulk. He was the right actor at the right time. Of course, there is plenty more to Bixby than the Hulk.

Here is the pilot episode of his first major starring role, as Tim O'Hara in the 60s sitcom My Favorite Martian:



Circa 1969-1970, Bixby appeared in a sitcom adaptation of the Frank Sinatra film The Courtship of Eddie's Father along with newcomer Brandon Cruz. Here are the charming opening sequence and a clip from the show:





Here Bixby discusses Courtship on The Arsenio Hall Show, along with a surprise guest (the audio is very low, so you'll need to crank it up to hear it):



His next series was The Magician, in which he played a crime-solving presidigitator. It lasted only 20 episodes in the 1973-74 season:




This, of course, brings us to the Hulk. See Bixby's work as Banner in the episode "Blind Rage." In this episode, David temporarily goes blind, giving Bixby a bit of a challenge here.





In the spring of 1983, Bixby costarred with real life friend Mariette Hartley in the CBS sitcom Goodnight, Beantown, about a male and female TV news anchor team in Boston that both sparred with and loved each other. Growing Pains star Tracey Gold appeared as Hartley's daughter. I watched this show when I was a kid specifically because Bixby appeared in it. This would be the last regular series for Bixby. No footage appears online, alas.



He even was a pitchman for Tandy computers (remember them?) in the early '80s.



He would spend the rest of his career as a guest star on other series, in the Hulk reunion TV-movies, or as a director, most notably on the NBC sitcom Blossom, where he worked at the time of his death.


Here is Bixby's last TV interview, with Entertainment Tonight. Please bear with this clip, as there are Spanish subtitles and an emergency alert that goes off halfway through, but it's well worth viewing.






Thanks!

UPDATE ON 6/21/08: Many thanks to the I'm Learning to Share blog, featured in my favorite links section, for giving a shout-out to this post and the whole blog! If you haven't been there, I'm Learning to Share is a great blog, better than mine, written by The In Crowd (you have to love someone whose first name is the word "The"). Thanks TIC!

UPDATE ON 7/15/08: Thanks also to Renee Tufo for correcting me on the star of the original Courtship of Eddie's Father film. Glen Ford was indeed the star of that film and not Frank Sinatra. I believe I confused Courtship with Sinatra's film A Hole in The Head, in which he plays a widower with a young son.

Ms. Tufo has also informed me of the movement to have Bixby inducted into the Emmy Hall of Fame. Right on! Take a look at http://www.billbixby-tributetoaremarkableman.com/ for more information and all things Bix. Thanks again Renee, and I hope you stay tuned to the blog!

4 comments:

Ladytink_534 said...

Not sure I've ever seen anything with Bill Bixby in it before but I love that first YouTube clip.

Great clips but I couldn't hear them very well (the only time the laptop has failed me so far) :(

Phillyradiogeek said...

It's probably the quality of the clips rather than your laptop. YouTube and other video sites are great for finding awesome content, but the technical quality is often lacking.

Anonymous said...

This was a nice little Bix bio. I would like to correct, however, one thing. The Courtship of Eddie's Father was NOT a Frank Sinatra movie. It was Glen Ford and, the known as. "little Ronnie Howard"-Ron Howard. Ther is currently a campaign being mounted to have Mr. Bixby posthumously entered into the Emmy Hall of Fame. The info can be found at
http://www.billbixby-tributetoaremarkableman.com/
Again, I thank you for this nice synopsis of the lifelong dedication to "good" TV that was Bill's career. Pleas do read about the campaign, and participate in any way that you can.
Best Wishes,
Renee Tufo

Anonymous said...

Please sign the official petition for Bill Bixby's "The Magician" TV series to be released on DVD:
http://www.petitiononline.com/TMDvD1/

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