It was DEPARTMENT S, though, that made Peter Wyngarde a star in 1969. The series dealt with a secret Interpol group brought in to investigate "unique" crimes. Wyngarde's Jason King character was a mystery author who acted as a consultant to the group. The character stood out from the fairly standard look of the rest of the show by nature of his poofy hair, Sgt Pepper-style mustache and increasingly flamboyant fashion choices. He was a cocky, egomaniacal ladies man who ended up becoming popular enough to merit his own 26 episode spin-off series, JASON KING after two series of DEPARTMENT S.
By the time he got his own show, the character, although still played straight, seems increasingly a parody and is often said to be the basis for Mike Myers' Austin Powers character. At the peak of his success, Peter Wyngarde was mobbed in public by fans, had comics characters based on him and put out a bizarre and ultimately controversial record album!
Wyngarde's career was quickly derailed just a few short years after JASON KING left the air when he was arrested on a couple of "public indecency" charges which also served to reveal the star's homosexuality. Although widely known in the industry--Wyngarde had been a companion to fellow actor Alan Bates for a decade at one point--like many stars, he had kept the fact a secret from the public. While such a revelation today might not have hurt his career, at the time it led to two bankruptcies.
Looking at those old photos, it now seems rather obvious that he 'batted for the other side'. I remember his excuse at the time of the 'scandal' - "I just had rather too much wine!" (Or words to that effect.)ReplyDelete
You also forgot that in the early 1980s he was Klytus in the camp version of Flash Gordon with Max Von Sydow and Topol.ReplyDelete