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Fear of Using the Name Bruce in the late '70s!


sewhite2000
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So, I've read in several different articles over the years that when CBS put on an Incredible Hulk TV show in the late '70s, there was one adamant exec who was not going to let the Hulk's human persona be named Bruce Banner, even though that was his given name in the comics, because he thought the name "Bruce" was too suggestive of gay culture. Never mind the most famous Bruce in the world, Bruce Jenner, had just won the decathlon and certainly seemed to be the pinnacle of heterosexual masculinity (maybe the guy was onto something; we all know what's happened since that time). So, Bruce Banner became David Banner. I have many friends and acquaintances my age who never read a comic book in their life. When they went back to Bruce for the new millennium Marvel movies, every one of them was like, "Why did they change David Banner's name to Bruce? It was always David!", none of them having any idea he was Bruce in the comics they never read.

Okay, well, I was watching Here Comes Mr. Jordan last night, and the name of the dead millionaire whose body Joe Pendelton inhabits is BRUCE Farnsworth! Not sure how I never noticed that before. Well, in the 1978 remake, right around the time Hulk was first on the air, Heaven Can Wait threw out the name Bruce and made it LEO instead! Was that also because the people behind that movie thought Bruce was simply too prissy and mincing a name?

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I can recall that "Bruce" was a name that figured in stereotypical jokes about gay men. I'm not sure who this came about--perhaps because "Bruce" is a name that could be pronounced with a lisp? The name, of course, is originally a Scottish last name. The heroic Robert the Bruce (the actual one, not the Hollywood hero with the bad haircut) probably inspired the use of Bruce as a hero's name in the comics.

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8 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

Well, Dr. Frederic Wertham had some ideas about Bruce living in that manor with his young ward ...

I believe those ideas inspired the series of sketches about The Ambiguously Gay Duo on "Saturday Night Live" during the 1990s.

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I'd like to thank Sewhite for bringing that up.  In the past I too, have queried the "Bruce/David Banner" thing in relation to the HULK TV show. Also wondering if it was due to some silly form of homophobia (eh, which form of it ISN'T silly?) 

How BRUCE got that distinction is beyond me.  AND equally annoying to the five or six Bruce's I personally know and who AREN'T gay.  Was a time the name PERCY was the connotation,  re-enforced by ERNIE KOVACS' character PERCY DOVETONSILS    years ago.  

Oddly( and humorously) enough, the only gay guy I know, and an old friend of my wife and I is named FRANK!  :D 

Sepiatone

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In the 1960s, there was a song entitled "Big Bruce," a takeoff on Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John." Bruce was a gay hairdresser. Instead of Big John giving it up to save his fellow miners, Bruce perishes in a salon fire. I heard the song exactly once on the radio; I always assumed it got yanked because of the subject matter.

You can hear it on youtube now.

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2 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

I'd like to thank Sewhite for bringing that up.  In the past I too, have queried the "Bruce/David Banner" thing in relation to the HULK TV show. Also wondering if it was due to some silly form of homophobia (eh, which form of it ISN'T silly?) 

How BRUCE got that distinction is beyond me.  AND equally annoying to the five or six Bruce's I personally know and who AREN'T gay.  Was a time the name PERCY was the connotation,  re-enforced by ERNIE KOVACS' character PERCY DOVETONSILS    years ago.  

Oddly( and humorously) enough, the only gay guy I know, and an old friend of my wife and I is named FRANK!  :D 

Sepiatone

Yep, and as kingrat mentioned earlier, the name "Bruce" is easily conducive to having it pronounced with a lisp, and which I'll bet was something some well known comedian(but can't remember who) began doing during his routines which got this ball rolling, and similarly to your Ernie Kovacs/Percy Dovetonsils story here, Sepia.

(...and in a way is similar to how it's now thought that comedian Larry Storch got that whole "Judy, Judy, Judy" thing started rolling when during Storch's 1950's nightclub act he did his impression of Cary Grant using that line and which is actually a misquote of a Grant line in the film Only Angels Have Wings)

 

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8 hours ago, NipkowDisc said:

Kenneth Johnson shoulda stuck with the bionic woman instead of defacing a marvel character.

Although, reportedly, the only reason we got Jennifer Walters, aka the Savage/Sensational She-Hulk, in Marvel was Stan Lee's worries over Kenneth Johnson, and "We'd better come up with a female Bionic-Woman Hulk spinoff before HE tries to!"  :D

10 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

How BRUCE got that distinction is beyond me.  AND equally annoying to the five or six Bruce's I personally know and who AREN'T gay. 

In British humor, "Bruce" is considered to be more stereotypically Australian, and therefore not befitting a "pouffter"--As no doubt springs to mind:

10 hours ago, scsu1975 said:

In the 1960s, there was a song entitled "Big Bruce," a takeoff on Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John." Bruce was a gay hairdresser. Instead of Big John giving it up to save his fellow miners, Bruce perishes in a salon fire. I heard the song exactly once on the radio; I always assumed it got yanked because of the subject matter.

Maybe it was deemed too similar to Sheb Wooley's "Big Sweet John"?

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Hey, it's NOT US here that perpetuated the stereotypes.  And here, we're mostly questioning their roots and looking for some explanations.  And as far as any of it goes, consider this----

I don't think there was ONE GAY GUY named BRUCE OR PERCY on TV's "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy"!  ;)

Sepiatone

 

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5 hours ago, CinemaInternational said:

Come to think about it, maybe Bruce the shark is not the best example. He can be mincing toward his prey.

Unless you mean Bruce from Finding Nemo, which managed to make both the "Shark" and "Australian" jokes out of the name...

(And who was voiced in the movie by Dame Edna.)

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I think the reason why every guy was named "Bruce" in the Monty Python sketch is because Australia was a British penal colony in the 18th century. 

When living in Melbourne all my white friends claimed "Scottish Convict" heritage and "A Bruce" was their slang term for themselves.

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