Sirki’s Summons – May 1: Hercules & Captain Marvel

Greetings from beyond the veil, Effendi. Or maybe the Rock of Eternity might be more appropriate for this entry. It was upon this date that Prince Sirki did summon forth two great heroes of the silver screen.

In 2000, the man who became synonymous with his portrayal of mythic hero HERCULES – though he only played the character twice (HERCULES (1958) & HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959)) – went to his own Olympus, when Steve Reeves passed away at the age of 74 from complications of lymphoma. Reportedly, he turned down not only playing ‘The Man With No Name’ in FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964), but James Bond as well, for DR. NO (1962). It seems he was making much more money making sword & sandal films in Italy, which is true, as he was tied for highest paid actor in Europe with  Sophia Loren. His career ended due to an injury suffered in a chariot crash dislocated his shoulder being aggravated after each successive stunt-filled movie he made.

Though most of his career was spent in Westerns, Tom Tyler will always be best known for his portrayal of the original Captain Marvel in the Republic Serial, THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL (1941). AOCM was the first big screen depiction of a comic book  super hero, let alone having him ‘fly’. Though very different from the comic incarnation, the basics were still there – the Wizard, Billy Batson saying, “SHAZAM!”, and the costume. He also played the Mummy, Kharis, in THE MUMMY’S HAND (1940), cast because of his profile & dark eyes resembling Boris Karloff’s under the bandages. Though he’d continue to play more Western roles after AOCM, he returned to the world of comic  heroes, by starring in Columbia’s serialization of Lee Falk’s THE PHANTOM (1943). This would be his last major screen role, as his career was reduced to lesser, supporting parts due to suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The Ghost Who Walks walked into the mist for the last time on this date in 1954, at the age of 50.

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