Friday, July 01, 2011

Chatting with Jackson Bostwick

Some kids actually grow up to portray their childhood heroes on the screen! Did you know that? Well, it's true. It happened to Lynda Carter, who for so many fans will always be the Wonder Woman (no matter how many plans they make to recast her in our modern times!). And it also happened to Jackson Bostwick, who portrayed Captain Marvel in the '70s live-action, Saturday-morning "Shazam!" series.

For Bostwick, this role was a dream come true. "He was one of my childhood heroes along with the Lone Ranger, Tarzan, and the Phantom," Bostwick tells BRBTV, "and here it was that I had the chance to portray him."

BRBTV got the chance to chat with this seasoned actor, and in the style of this news blog, we're bringing on the highlights! Look for the full text of the interview in a future BRBTV product (ooops, did we say that out loud?). For now, though, let's talk a little more about this series, launched by Filmation in 1974 in a half-hour format and showing us the young Billy Batson, played by Michael Gray, encountering life's challenges and seeing the moral issues attached to them all, guided by Mentor and the "elders," and able to transform himself into the mighty Captain Marvel with that one powerful word ...

We had to ask Bostwick what part of himself found itself infused into his portrayal of Captain Marvel.

"The child in me that still loves to dream and fantasize," he says. "This especially helped when Captain Marvel flew back at the end of each episode and talked to the kids about what lessons they learned that day."

The show, of course, was based on the well-loved '40s comic book hero, who ranks just about right up there with Superman, Batman and the like, to this very day. The comic book roots of the show were appreciated by Bostwick, who did a lot of reading as a kid:

"Captain Marvel, of course, along with the Phantom, Straight Arrow, Plastic Man, Classics Illustrated (the only ones my mom didn’t throw out while I was at college)," he listed off for us, adding, "Mandrake The Magician, Aquaman and some Donald Ducks."

His favorite episode of this "Shazam!" series?

"I liked them all, but I would say 'The Athlete' and 'The Boy Who Said No,' because of the stunts that were involved," Bostwick tells us. "I had to hang from a helicopter in one and ride standing on the top of the motor home that Mentor was kidnapped in. And in the other one I had to snatch a stuntwoman off a galloping horse as I ran alongside it and it went thundering past me."

This kids' show was not all sweetness and light for Bostwick, however. At the beginning of the show's second season, an injury on the set sent him in for medical treatment. When he didn't show up on the set the next day, a story quickly circulated that the actor was holding out for more cash. He successfully sued.

With the legal matter settled, we were really curious as to whether he would've considered returning to the show. This was his hero, after all.

"As an actor, I never say never, but there were some very hard feelings between my lawyer and the executive producers at that time," he says, "and that’s where the whole 'holding out for more money' fabrication stemmed from. I wasn’t aware of this acute animosity between them until well after the fact. The show wasn’t as much fun as the first season because of the change in some of the crew and key personnel, but I wouldn’t have objected to completing the run."

Bostwick's career charged on, despite his departure from the white and gold cape. In the ensuing years, it was a career punctuated by many projects for Disney, notably.

These days, Bostwick lives in Tennessee and has an official website, He's still involved with on-screen work, including the movies "Suitable for Murder" and "Bloody Mary-Lite." He still makes con appearances, and even though he never appeared with her on "Shazam!" he's even made an appearance with the star of the "Shazam!" spinoff "The Secrets of Isis," Joanna Cameron.

Bostwick has been writing a book about his experiences on "Shazam!" It's called "Myth, Magic and a Mortal," and he tells BRBTV that though he's been in contact with a publisher, after consulting with fellow classic TV star Lou Ferrigno he's leaning more toward self-publishing.

Catch the trailer for "Suitable for Murder" on YouTube, and you can see "Bloody Mary-Lite" promoted on the actor's MySpace page and also trailered on YouTube.

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