Photos courtesy Universal Studios Home Entertainment
With the "The Incredible Hulk" smashing into theaters Friday, June 13, we take a four-part look back at the beloved live-action TV show starring Bill Bixby as David Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. Check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3!
By Jim Beard
Wrapping up our four-part look at the "Incredible Hulk" TV series that inspired the "Incredible Hulk" feature film that, hey, comes out today, we turn our attention to the three amazing actors who made the TV series the gem that it remains today. These three men played the only recurring characters on "The Incredible Hulk" and carried the series along through five seasons and the follow-up TV movies.
We start with the star of the show, Dr. David Bruce Banner himself:
Don't get him angry; you wouldn't like him when he's angry. Growing up in California, Bill Bixby caught the acting bug early and wowed his teachers and fellow students throughout high school and college. He made his television debut on "The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis" and soon began conquering guest-spots on every TV series he could find. Then, in 1963, Bill won a lead role on the first of three series that made him a star: "My Favorite Martian." His next show, "The Magician," while not a ratings success found much favor with viewers. It also gave Bill the chance to show off his amateur magician skills.
Come 1977, Bill earned the plum role of David Banner on a little show called "The Incredible Hulk." His natural charm and earnest personality appealed to fans of the show, making Bixby's Banner a powerful balance to the Hulk himself. He'd go on to direct episodes of the series and managed to combine all three of his high-profile TV gigs into one when Ray Walston of "My Favorite Martian" guest-starred on "The Incredible Hulk"—as a magician.
After the "Hulk" series left the airwaves, Bixby continued acting and even became the lead director on "Blossom." Sadly, he lost his life to prostate cancer in 1993 at the young age of 59, but his legacy continues, most especially in Edward Norton's performance in the new "Incredible Hulk" film.
Nobody played "snoopy reporter" quite like Jack Colvin as Jack McGee. Born the same year as Bill Bixby, Colvin too got into acting at a very young age. Known for television parts and participating in hundreds of films, he thought of the theatre as his first, true love. Many of his 1960s TV appearances played out as one half of a famous comedy duo of the time, Colvin and Wilder, with Yvonne Wilder. The 1970s brought guest-spots on all the "cool" shows, like "Six Million Dollar Man," "The Bionic Woman," and of course, "The Incredible Hulk."
Jack's turn as investigative reporter Jack McGee endeared him to many fans, putting across a character that you loved to hate—yet strangely who you hoped would find Banner and the Hulk someday. To the end of his life in 2005, Colvin's time on "The Incredible Hulk" would mark him as a cultural icon.
Underneath the fright wig and green bodypaint lurked a man with a heart of gold. Lou Ferrigno overcame many obstacles as a youngster, most notably an ear infection that robbed him of 80% of his hearing, to become one of the greatest role models of our times. He began winning top profile weightlifting competitions early, at the tender age of 22, and parlayed this success into the field of acting. His impressive frame and ability to portray both ferocity and simple-minded calm won him the role of a lifetime: the Incredible Hulk!
"The Incredible Hulk" stood as a high watermark for Lou, having been a great fan of the Marvel heroes as a child. While filming the show he became close friends with co-star
Bill Bixby and together the two of them created a television yin and yang that's gone on to cement itself as a pop phenomenon of the highest order. When it came time to cast 2003's "Hulk" film, the producers knew that it would not be complete without Lou on the set. And thus, a famous cameo came about, one that will be replicated in the new "Incredible Hulk" movie.
There you have it, Hulk-Heads! A brief tour of one of our most favorite TV shows—long live the Hulk!
Need to catch up on your Hulk reading? Looking for the perfect stories starring the Jade Giant? Check out our list of the 10 Collections marked as required reading by any Hulk fan!
Read classic Hulk stories in Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited! Take pictures with a life-size Hulk statue at select theaters nationwide! Visit the official "The Incredible Hulk" movie site! Go see "The Incredible Hulk" at a theater near you now!