Vintage Hunk: Alan Bates

By: Mike McCrann

Sexy, hairy, off-beat, and extremely talented, Alan Bates was one of the great cinematic stars of the swinging '60s. From the great Whistle Down The Wind through Georgy Girl and The Go Between, Bates was a leading actor in the British talent explosion, but he made film history with his homoerotic naked wrestling scene opposite Oliver Reed in Women in Love.

Bates was born in 1934 to a family of amateur musicians, but he saw the stage as his life ambition and eventually made his film debut in the Laurence Olivier classic The Entertainer. This was followed with a great performance in Whistle Down The Wind and a number of of British new wave films, including Georgy Girl.

Bates made the transition to American films with ease, earning an Academy Award nomination for The Fixer and ably supporting Bette Midler in her smash hit The Rose. He became the thinking man's romantic hero with wonderful performances in An Unmarried Woman and the Cannes Festival winner The Go Between, in which he and gorgeous costar Julie Christie had a pretty bold nude sex scene.

Bates married and was the father of several children; however, he had numerous gay sexual relationships yet remained closeted during these spotlight years. He died in 2003 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 69.

In 2007 there was a fascinating book called Otherwise Engaged: The Life of Alan Bates that included interviews with hundreds of friends and relatives. The book reveals a terribly complex man who was one of the great actors of his generation.

When I think of Alan Bates I don't necessarily think about all his great film and theater roles, but I always come back to Georgy Girl. I saw this film when it opened in 1966 while I was in college. Alan Bates, with his great charm and looks set against London's swinging ’60s scene, hooked me forever. He was a hunk for all seasons.